On hearing the news of Amy Winehouse’s death yesterday, I wrote this on Twitter:
“I said about three years ago Amy Winehouse would be dead within five years. I really wish I’d been proved wrong. Very sad news. R.I.P.”
After having time for reflection, I haven’t changed my view. I really do wish I had been proved wrong, but there was an inevitability about her death. When you have a very ill relative or friend you are still shocked when they die, but are not surprised. This is how I feel about Amy Winehouse.
There are many who manage to conquer their demons. Elton John is someone who springs to mind. After a lifetime of addiction, he took control of his life. I remember an interview he gave to Michael Parkinson in the UK where he described a glass of wine as one of the most civilising things in life. His problem was it would never end with just a glass. He would have to keep on drinking until he passed out. He no longer drinks alcohol because he understands he is still an addict. His addiction may no longer control his life, but he knows just one glass of wine would send him into a downward spiral.
In many ways it is the same for me with cigarettes. A few years ago I gave up smoking for two years. I honestly thought I would never smoke another cigarette in my life, then at a wedding someone offered me a King Edward Invincible cigar. I initially refused, but was assured it wouldn’t get me back on cigarettes again. I agreed. Smoking huge cigars is completely different to smoking cigarettes. Right? Wrong. Not long after that wedding, I went on a short holiday to France where I indulged in a few cigars. This turned into smoking cigars on a regular basis, which then (after around six months) turned into smoking cigarettes. But that’s me. I know other people who can smoke a cigarette or two when they are out for the evening, and then never smoke again for weeks or months. It doesn’t bother them. They are in control. I am addicted to nicotine, and when I make the effort to give-up smoking again, I know that means never smoking again.
I am not grieving for Amy Winehouse. You can’t grieve for someone you don’t know. You can sympathise (and maybe empathise) with her family and friends, and try and draw comparisons, and learn lessons, but ultimately I don’t think she could be helped. Billie Holiday is a prime example. She knew her demons and addictions were killing her, but she continued nonetheless. Or was she unable to do make the decision to change her life? It appears so, and that is something I do not fully understand, but maybe have a glimpse of.
What doesn’t help people like Amy Winehouse is the constant attention of the media for the wrong reasons. If tabloid newspapers concentrated on reporting the news, rather than glorifying the cult of celebrity, life would be better. I think it’s fair to say the majority of us enjoy a bit of gossip, but for me, that tends to be about people I know, and the latest goings-on in politics. I am not interested in the private lives of those in the public eye. If politicians and so-called celebrities break the law, their wrong doing should be exposed, but frankly, if someone rolls out of a club at 4.00 am, and can barely walk into a taxi, it’s their business, and it’s certainly not newsworthy.
I send Amy’s family and friends all my sympathy. Her’s was a tragic life. A waste of talent, but I think no matter what anyone did or tried to do to help her, the outcome would have changed. There are many people around the world who are living a life similar to her. There are people today who will be experimenting with drugs for the first time. I hope when they look at Amy Whitehouse’s death, they will pause, and if they can, change their lives. If you have the will and inner courage to fight your demons, there are so many organisations that will offer help and support. If her death means more people being helped, then perhaps her death will not have been in vain.