Saturday, 23 July 2011
And Still We Say Come Back, Come Back To Camden
Amy Winehouse was at the absolute top of her game when I moved to Camden Town, London for uni four years ago....and Camden was on fire. No, I'm not talking about the fire that took out the Canal Market and The Hawley Arms (my and Amy's local). I'm talking about the music scene. And Amy was it's queen bee.
My first flat was on the outskirts of Camden, in between Euston Station and Mornington Crescent Station. A flatmate and I discovered The Hawley Arms by accident one night and thus, my 'local' was chosen. We kept it a secret from the rest of our friends. We'd steal away while everyone else wasn't looking and head up the High Street towards Chalk Farm to The Hawley to rub elbows with the likes of Amy, Kelly Osbourne, The Kooks, and loads more.
Eventually, I moved to the very heart of Camden Town....and just down the street and round the corner from Amy. I LIVED in the Hawley Arms. My flatmate, Pete, and I were there at least 6 days a week and Amy was in often. Even when Amy wasn't in the pub, her voice was....and even if it wasn't, you could feel her aura there. It was much the same in any pub in Camden at the time. If you didn't see her, you heard her. Imagine how it would have been, living in Liverpool at the height of Beatlemania. That's how it felt.
On February 9, 2008, Pete and I were on our way up the High Street to The Hawley when a fire engine screamed by us. As we approached Camden Town Station, we could see smoke and heard a passerby comment about, "the market on fire". From where we were, it appeared to be quite far away and we assumed it was Stables Market. But when we got to the bottom of the hill, about to cross Camden Lock Bridge, our hearts sank. We stood as long as we could, but the police eventually pushed everyone back. We silently walked back down the High Street and into Tommy Flynn's. We drank in silence, watching our 'home' burn on the telly.
I remember walking around in a daze for a day or so...until I saw video of Amy's speech on the Grammy Awards. When she defiantly yelled out, "Camden Town ain't burnin' down!", I realized that she was right. Camden and it's spirit would survive.
The Hawley and the Market were rebuilt. Things are back to normal in the good old Den of Cam....or should I say, "back to NOT normal"?
But now Amy's left NW1 for good. This loss can't be rebuilt. Her music and her memory will remain imprinted on the borough forever and it will always remind me of Camden and the best three years of my life.
"CAMDEN TOWN AIN'T BURNIN' DOWN!"
...and neither will Amy's memory.