Authors: Mitch Winehouse
Tags: #Biography & Autobiography, #music, #Personal Memoirs, #Composers & Musicians, #Individual Composer & Musician
Over the next few months I didn't see much of Amy and Blake â which was not surprising: they were newly married, after all. Amy still found time for me, though, and we met often enough for me to think all was well.
On the evening of Monday, 6 August 2007, at her flat in Jeffrey's Place, Amy had her first seizure. She was alone with Blake. He put her on her side in the recovery position, but instead of calling an ambulance, he phoned Juliette. I doubt very much that he told her the severity of the situation. Had he done so, I'm sure Juliette would have told him to call an ambulance right away. Instead she drove from her home in Barnet to Camden Town, which must have taken at least half an hour, and then, in Juliette's car, they took Amy to University College Hospital in central London, arriving at about one a.m.
By the time they got to the hospital, Amy was unconscious and Juliette called me. I was working in my cab that night and luckily I wasn't too far away. I got to the hospital about fifteen minutes later. By the time I arrived Blake had gone and Amy had had her stomach pumped. It was reported in the press that she was given an adrenalin shot, but that's not true. She was very woozy and I couldn't get much sense out of her. I thought drinking might have caused the seizure.
When I got home, I wanted to get my head down for a couple of hours but I couldn't switch my thoughts off. I had a cup of tea and replayed the events of the night. I tried to remember how Amy's behaviour had changed since she'd got married, and realized I needed to start keeping a daily diary. I wanted a record of events as they happened. Maybe I'd been a bit naÃ¯ve and missed some obvious signs. How much was she drinking? She was probably still smoking âpuff', as she called it, but was there anything else? What had I not noticed?
The next morning I met Raye and Nick Shymansky at the hospital. Amy was still asleep and I found out that there had been no sign of Blake since the previous day â as far as I knew he hadn't even bothered to phone the hospital. However, in the press, there were pictures of him outside the hospital with a bunch of flowers for Amy â pity he never made it to her bedside while I was there.
We decided when Amy was discharged that she could do with a change of scene so I arranged for us to go and stay at the Four Seasons Hotel in Surrey for a few days. To cheer her up, we also booked a room for her friends Juliette and Lauren. Amy wanted to turn it into a girly thing and I hoped that might keep Blake away.
Amy left hospital the following afternoon and we drove her straight to the hotel, where she settled into her room. Unbeknown to me, though, she had phoned Blake and told him where we were going. At ten o'clock that night he turned up at the hotel.
Amy wasn't her usual self. She'd been talking a lot of nonsense throughout the evening, so I made some calls and arranged for a doctor to see her straight away. At eleven p.m. Dr Marios Pierides, a consultant psychiatrist at the Capio Nightingale Hospital, in north-west London, arrived and examined Amy. He said that she had
taken drugs, probably crack cocaine. He warned Amy that if she continued she could have another seizure at any time.
Words cannot describe the depths to which I plummeted. I had to sit down before I fell. This was a bombshell. Amy had always been dead against hard drugs. Why had that changed? What could I do? I couldn't believe that Amy was taking drugs but the evidence was there. Now I knew I'd been wrong in thinking Amy was stronger than Blake and had weaned him off class-A drugs. It appeared to be the opposite. But, even so, how had the drugs got into the hotel? I didn't know what to do, who to turn to. I tried talking to Amy, but she was out of it. I wanted to hear what she had to say for herself. Maybe it had been a one-off. I lay awake all night wondering.
I didn't see much of Amy the following day and neither did her friends. She spent most of it in bed with Blake. Juliette and Lauren were really worried about her too and kept going up to the room, but Amy didn't want to see them because she was with Blake. I was told that Blake, as a result of his âwithdrawal', was having a very bad time. Finally people were acknowledging that he was a drug-user.
Blake and Amy surfaced at about nine p.m. and we sat down to have something to eat, except Blake, who went for a walk in the hotel grounds. I guessed that he'd made arrangements for drugs to be delivered, and when he returned, the look on his face suggested that they had arrived. Later Juliette and I managed to get into the room while Amy and Blake were out. I didn't know what I was looking for but we came across a scorched strip of silver foil in the bin. This confirmed what we had suspected: that one or both of them had been smoking a class-A drug. I now had to accept that Amy, as well as Blake, was using. I looked about for evidence of other drugs but didn't find anything.
I felt sick. Our whole world had been turned upside down. Should I confront Amy here? How should I talk to her about it? Would she listen? I knew Amy had had bad moments with alcohol, but crack? It seemed impossible.
By this time word had got out about Amy's seizure and there were reporters all over the hotel looking for a story, so I decided to leave talking to Amy until we got home. The reporters didn't get anything from any of us, but Blake's mother, Georgette, spoke to the press from her home that day saying we should all leave Amy and Blake alone, and calling Amy's friends, whom Amy had known most of her life, âhangers-on'.
That Friday it was Jane's birthday, so after work that night she came to the hotel to join us for the weekend. Blake's mother and stepfather, Georgette and Giles, were there too, having travelled from their home in Newark, Lincolnshire. Raye and I had asked them to come so we could discuss what to do about the evidence of drugs we'd found in their room and that had been in Amy's system.
When we sat down together, Georgette did not apologize for her âhangers-on' remark. This was the first time we'd met and already she had offended me. As we spoke, I realized how little they knew about Blake's drug abuse. They had decided that it had been Amy who had introduced drugs to Blake, which I, and all of Amy's friends, knew wasn't true. It's going to be difficult moving forward, I thought, unless we're all on the same side.
Later that night we sat down to dinner in a private dining room. Amy was at one end of the table and Georgette at the other. Georgette kept waving a designer bag at Amy. âOoh, look at the bag you bought me, look at the bag â¦' she was saying.
What was wrong with her? She'd just learned that her son was a drug addict, but all she could go on about was a handbag. She and her husband were in complete denial about their son's problems, and remained so for the rest of the evening. That was the first time I met the Civils: I thought they were obnoxious.
The next morning Raye arrived and we had breakfast on the terrace. Amy, Jane, Georgette and Giles were at the next table. I went over to them and suggested that we walk along the terrace for some privacy. I told Giles about the silver foil I'd found in Amy and Blake's room; he said he didn't believe me, he didn't think it had anything to do with Blake. I told him he was deluding himself about his stepson, but he was adamant that it was Amy's fault.
The conversation quickly became heated and, forgetting there were reporters in the hotel, I lost my temper. We were both shouting. It was a surreal moment: a wedding was to take place in the hotel that day, and while I was arguing with Giles on the terrace, I could see the guests starting to arrive. Fortunately, Raye came out onto the terrace, put his hand on my shoulder and said quietly, âCalm down, Mitch, calm down.' And I did. But, believe me, I was so angry with Giles that I was shaking.
Earlier that day, before breakfast, I had called Amy's doctor, Paul Ettlinger, to ask him to come and examine her again. He did so, and suggested that Amy and Blake should spend some time at the Causeway Retreat, an addiction treatment centre on Osea Island in Essex. It's in the Blackwater estuary, not far from the town of Maldon. The island is only accessible for an hour or so a day via a causeway. Once you're on the island, you're stuck there â at least until the next low tide. He told me that the Causeway was almost impenetrable, which was just what we needed, especially after the previous night when Blake had arranged for drugs to be brought to the hotel. I was desperate to get help for Amy and agreed to this right away.
Naturally Amy didn't want to go, but this time, unlike her previous trip to rehab, we weren't taking no for an answer. âListen,' I said to her, âyou're going. You're a drug addict now, and that's the end of it.'
I was angry with her, and she knew it. She looked to Blake for support but I told them they were both going.
Later that day Raye and I drove Amy and Blake to Battersea Heliport from where a helicopter took them to the island. But before Blake got into the helicopter, he took me to one side. I was so shocked by what came next that I recorded his exact words in my diary: âI am going to Osea Island for Amy's sake. I have no intention of getting clean, I like being a drug addict.'
I was dumbfounded. I got back into the car and told Raye, who just shook his head. What chance had Amy got if her husband felt like that? I hoped rehab would work for them.
Amy and Blake were meant to stay at the Causeway Retreat for an indefinite period, but after just three days they came back. I met them at Battersea Heliport, but Amy brushed past me and got into the back of the car. I banged on the window and made her open the door.
âWhy'd you leave early, Amy?' I asked, trying hard to sound reasonable.
âI ain't talking to you, Dad. It was you made us go to that place.'
She slammed the door and told the driver to take them home. I was left standing there alone. As I replayed the events in my head, I was sick about it all. I was devastated that Amy had given up on rehab so quickly, but even worse, this was the first time that Amy and I had fallen out. All I'd been doing was trying to prevent a dangerous problem becoming worse â I hadn't expected gratitude (I'm not that naÃ¯ve), but I was shocked that she wouldn't speak to me.
The newspapers were all over this story like a rash. I was struggling to know what to think, let alone say about it. The next day the
ran the following headline: â“I'm proud Amy told me she's a heroin addict,” says Winehouse's mother-in-law.' It was a new experience for me to wake up to horrible stories about my daughter, knowing they were on everyone else's breakfast tables.
I couldn't sit and let things just happen. On Wednesday, 15 August, we had a crisis meeting at Matrix Studios, a media centre and recording studios in south-west London, partly owned by Nigel Frieda, who was also a part-owner of the Causeway Retreat. Dr Mike McPhillips, of the Causeway, Dr Ettlinger, Shawn O'Neil and John Knowles, representing Universal, Raye and I were at the meeting, which went ahead with Amy and Blake's agreement. Georgette and Giles were invited to attend and would bring Amy and Blake with them. They never showed up. In their infinite wisdom, Georgette and Giles had decided it would be a better idea to take Amy and Blake to a pub for a drink instead.
The following day there were pictures in the newspapers of Amy and Georgette, arm in arm, coming out of a pub. They had been taken while the rest of us were pulling our hair out, trying to decide the best way to help Amy and Blake. Later, when I confronted Georgette about it, she said the whole situation had been thrust upon her and Giles and they'd needed time to take it in. I thought it was a pity I hadn't thrust harder.
In the absence of Amy, Blake and his parents, the meeting concluded that Amy and Blake should go back to the Causeway Retreat and, after much cajoling, we managed to get them back on Osea Island two days later. As I saw the helicopter leave Battersea Heliport for the second time, I breathed a sigh of relief. I just hoped that this time they would stay and be helped. Sadly, though, it wasn't to be. Somehow or other a friend of Blake's, someone I'll call Geoff for legal reasons, got on to the island and into the Causeway to give Amy and Blake drugs. So much for the impenetrable Osea Island and second-to-none security.
Two days later â again cutting their stay short - Amy and Blake left the Causeway Retreat and checked into a Â£500-a-night suite at the Sanderson Hotel in London's West End.
*Â Â Â *Â Â Â *
On Wednesday, 22 August, my son Alex went to visit Amy and Blake at the Sanderson. They ended up having a big row about drugs. When Alex phoned me, I could tell immediately that he was upset. I calmed him down and arranged for Amy and Blake to meet us in a restaurant in Goodge Street, not far from the hotel, so he and his sister could make up. We had a nice dinner together that night â Amy and Alex could never stay mad at each other for long and, for Amy's sake, I was polite to Blake, but I felt as if we were all walking on egg shells.
We left the restaurant at about nine thirty. Amy and Blake went back to the hotel and Alex and I went home. Then, at about three thirty a.m., all hell broke loose at the Sanderson. Amy and Blake had had a huge bust-up. The first I heard of it was from the next morning's newspapers. The
ran the story with the headline: âBloodied and bruised Amy Winehouse stands by husbandâ¦' The pictures that accompanied it showed Amy with cuts on her face, legs and feet. She also had a deep cut on her arm, which needed several stitches.
At some point during the fight Amy had run out of their room, out of the hotel and into the street. This was when the paparazzi had got their shots. Blake had followed â I don't know if he was chasing her to bring her back or to continue the fight. Amy hailed a passing car and jumped in. She was dropped off nearby and walked back to the hotel where she and Blake made up. I raced to the hotel to see Amy. Blake was out and she told me that they'd had a terrible row and she had cut herself. Later she admitted that she had hit and scratched Blake, but she wouldn't tell me if he had hit her.