The news, when it came, was a shock---but it was not a surprise.Like the death of Michael Jackson, news of Amy Winehouse's untimely demise was something I had been expecting to hear for quite a long time.The mad pace of her rock - star lifestyle had long made it obvious that this person was not meant to last long on this earth.
I arrived home late from an afternoon and evening spent in Brighton, Londoners' main coastal hangout.After dinner in a fish restaurant, followed by a few drinks in a bar, my old school friends and I went our separate ways.
Earlier in the day, on my way to the coast, I had heard snippets of a news item from Norway involving an explosion in the capital.I had been in too much of a rush to pay much attention, excited as I was to meet up with old friends.
As usual, I only heard the full details once I got in bed, and switched on Dotun Adebayo's show on Radio5.
So, that was it.The hard-drinking female Keith Richard figure was gone.The details did not really matter.We all knew that in the end, whatever the post-mortem was to say, it was her lifestyle which did for her.We had been reading about her in the tabloids on a weekly basis---Amy coming out of the" Hawley Arms" and punching a young man, Amy photographed with blood over her shoes after injecting heroin in her toes, Amy this, Amy that.....the stories became more sordid, more outrageous.
A talented girl from a working-class Jewish family, she had achieved world-wide fame in a very short time.Her White-Soul voice had brought her much acclaim----there was enough money to buy a multimillion -pound house in Camden Square----only five minutes' walk from our office.
By the following day her beatification had begun.Police had to be drafted in to Camden Square as hundreds of fans descended on her house.They set up a shrine in front of her house with offerings of vodka, poems, paintings. I walked past the house on Wednesday morning----it is a route which I take home a lot of the time.The house, as well as a couple of adjoining houses, had been cordoned off.A security guard stood at the gate.
Tragic though her passing was, at least there was a kind of logic to it---we could, if we wanted to, pin the blame somewhere. We knew the angst-laden lyrics of failed love affairs, we knew the self-loathing , the striving for an impossible idea of perfection, we knew how headstrong she was.After all, was she not the one who boasted about saying :"No, No, No" when advised to seek help for her drink and drug habits?Death was a logical step in her career, as it had been for Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison, and so many other fallen heroes.
What logic though, can explain the slaughter by the vainglorious headcase of an inadequate man , a false prophet who had sworn jihad against the whole of Mankind....? After years of meticulous planning, the self-styled "Christian", Anders Breivik set off a bomb in the centre of the capital, and then went to an island where young members of the ruling Centre-Left Labour Party were meeting.This White-Supremacist, ostensibly angered by the "Islamisation " of Europe, set out to put the world to rights-----by killing as many of those young people as police tardiness in apprehending him would allow.His way of showing his hatred of all non-Whites(even though his only school friend was a Pakistani boy) was to massacre as many of the Labour Party's youth as he possibly could.
Like the Holy Warriors of Beslan who lay waste to those Russian schoolkids who were cowering in their gym several Septembers ago, he was too cowardly to carry out his deeds sober.He has confessed to having taken some sort of drug before starting his killing spree.
The two stories shared the front pages of all the newspapers for many days, but, I suspect most people had mixed feelings about one of them.
At least, with Amy Winehouse, the "Queen of Camden Town", as one mourner described her, one could find excuses for her behaviour. She, for all her bad-girl rock 'n roll lifestyle, had not set out to hurt anyone but herself. That dreadful Fascist, that puny excuse for a man, had the audacity to claim to be a Christian---a person who lives by the teachings of Christ. He was, in fact, a follower of Satan.Having cut short 78 or so innocent lives, he will have many years behind bars to ponder.God may forgive him, but I guess that the majority of us are not Christian enough to let bygones be bygones.
We may well forgive the brilliant songbird, Amy Winehouse, her shortcomings.Her songs may well live forever.
Death, in the end, cuts short all our vanity, whatever path we adopt in this life.