The Amy I knew was caring, shy... and happy with a cup of tea and Countdown.
Mail on Sunday. 8/14/2011
Living with Amy Winehouse, Charlotte Pederson saw a different side to the star. Here, she paints an intimate picture few would recognise
AS the 30-second timer starts on Channel 4's Countdown, Amy Winehouse pauses mid sit-up on the wooden floor in front of the television to put her wits against the studio contestants. Only as the show's familiar music reaches its climax and she has worked out the longest word possible from the array of letters does the singer, make-up free and dressed in a vest and jogging bottoms, continue her exercises.
It is a picture of the tragic star, who died last month after struggling with drugs and alcohol addiction, many might find hard to imagine. But it is a cherished memory for her friend Charlotte Pederson, of Falkirk, Stirlingshire, who was given a temporary home by the singer.
Last night, the 19-year-old, who lived with Amy for two months, gave a unique behind-closed-doors insight into her troubled friend's domestic life for the first time.
She disclosed that the Grammy award winner preferred curling up in front of the television with a cup of tea instead of a glass of wine after meeting film director boyfriend Reg Traviss.
She also liked to read comic books in bed, while success in the kitchen was mixed.
And the secret behind the famous beehive hair-do adopted by the singer is also revealed.
'Living with Amy wasn't the crazy life people may think,' said Charlotte, who says the star treated her like a sister.
'Yes, we went on nights out but sometimes Amy wouldn't even drink. She liked nothing more than sitting on the sofa, snacking on crisps and watching her favourite film or show on TV. 'I am as shocked and surprised as anyone by her death because I was still in touch with her.
'We exchanged texts and talked on the phone right up until a couple of weeks before she died, and she was happy.' The once vivacious singer had in recent years turned into an emaciated wreck who would stumble publicly from one crisis to another.
But Charlotte saw a different side that contrasts sharply with her chaotic image. In June last year the teenager had lost her job as a barmaid in Hampstead Heath, as well as her flat, when she sent out an SOS by text to all her friends, asking if they could put her up for a few nights while she sorted out a new place to stay.
SHE had met Amy six months earlier over a game of pool in the singer's favourite pub, The Good Mixer in Camden, and they had remained friends. She admits she was astonished to get an instant response from the star's bodyguard, Andrew, telling her: 'Come round. It's Amy's idea.' Charlotte said : 'I couldn't believe my luck and her generosity. She was a huge star by then and it was surprising she would take me in.
'When I arrived at her flat with everything I had in two small suitcases, she came up to me and gave me a hug.
'She said: "Stay here as long as you need to, Charlie." I was so grateful.' The top-floor flat in a modern townhouse in Marylebone was being used temporarily by the singer while her £1.8 million home in Camden was undergoing renovations.
Charlotte added: 'She had already tried to make it "home" as much as possible although there wasn't much in it. There were family photographs and her keyboard.
There was nothing of the sense of chaos that was portrayed publicly. She kept the place very neat and tidy.
'It was a two-bedroomed flat, so there wasn't a permanent place for me to sleep but Amy didn't bother about that. She was completely selfless and just happy to help a friend.
'Sometimes I was on the couch if we fell asleep watching TV, or I would use her bodyguard Andrew's room if he wasn't there, or sometimes Amy would let me share with her and we would fall asleep reading comics. There wasn't anything weird about it.' Like many, the singer had mixed success in the kitchen and liked to experiment when she had time.
Charlotte said: 'I remember she made a really weird concoction - she was trying to make a fish sauce she used to buy but it didn't work out. It was frankly disgusting.
'Cooking with Amy could be like trying to bake with a child. There was mess and the end result wasn't always what you expected. But it was all part of the fun around her.' Not surprisingly, ordering in takeaway meals was a frequent occurrence, with Nando's 'half a chicken' accompanied by sweet potato mash and corn on the cob proving a favourite.
Charlotte added: 'Considering how small she was, she could eat a lot.' Afternoons were spent shopping for 'alternative' comics or watching television - particularly Countdown.
Charlotte recalled: 'She didn't work out every day but she loved doing sit-ups or her exercise bike when Countdown was on. She wouldn't talk to anyone while the 30-second timer was on. If you tried to talk to her, she would shout: "Wait, let me get this word." She was so into the programme it was hilarious.' DIVORCED in 2009 from her drug addict husband Blake Fielder-Civil, the Back To Black star had just begun a new relationship the month before Charlotte moved in.
The singer was introduced to Traviss through a mutual friend. He directed the 2006 film Joy Division, about a German teenager in the Second World War.
Charlotte said: 'I remember her calling me to tell me she'd met him. She was like a schoolgirl.
'After meeting Reg, I could see a change in Amy's drinking. A good night out for us had been going to The Mixer for a few drinks and playing pool.
'But as it got serious with Reg, she didn't want to do anything to mess it up. She said to me a few times she was an alcoholic but she was trying to stop drinking. If we were in the flat and she wanted something while we were watching TV, there were times I would say: "Have a cup of tea instead" and she would.
'I went out for dinner with her and Reg a few times. She would have a glass of wine and a large bottle of water.
'Towards the end of my stay, she was hardly drinking at all. There was no vodka in the flat - only cranberry and grape juice.' The fact her car-crash lifestyle repeatedly attracted bad publicity had long since ceased to upset Amy, who was content her friends knew the 'real' her.
Behind closed doors, the heavy black kohl wiped off her eyes, Amy liked to lounge about in jogging bottoms and a vest.
Charlotte said: 'The beehive and make-up would go on when she was going out. The beehive was just a special sponge she used to comb her hair over. Her hairstyle looked more complicated than it was but it could be thrown together in minutes.' She added: 'She was a very playful person and always liked to joke about.' She recalled how the singer used post-operative sticky bandage left over from breast enhancement surgery to pretend she had designed a bra.
She then did a mock TV advert, using the cockney geezer style of actor Danny Dyer.
Charlotte said: 'Her boob job wasn't something we talked about much because it was in the past. All she'd said was it was a slight enlargement to help her proportions but she had some tape left over from that time and she stuck it across the bra she was wearing.
'She said to me: "I'm going to pretend I'm Danny doing an advert for TV for this new bra." Then suddenly mimicking his voice, she started stomping about the flat, saying this is the new 'Free strip', a revolutionary new bra ...
'Andrew and I laughed our heads off. She was a very funny person.' THE tragic singer was found dead at her Camden Square home on 23 July by Andrew. Her friends and family will have to wait until later this month to find out how she died after a post-mortem examination was unable to establish a formal cause.
Charlotte says she never saw the singer taking drugs, adding: 'When you live with someone, even for a short while, you get to know them.
'Amy had moved on from drugs and Blake. She would talk about him sometimes, saying they were too similar and they would always be good friends despite everything.
'She was so protective of me and caring. She never did any drugs while I was living with her. I would have given her a good slap if she had.' Charlotte finally moved out of the singer's flat in August last year and moved to Scotland after meeting a new boyfriend.
She said: 'Amy was just such an amazing person. She never forgot anyone. After I left, she still called me on my birthday in October and at Christmas for a chat. We were in regular contact through text.' She was unaware that in Amy's final few weeks, she had been found comatose several times by her bodyguards after drink binges.
Charlotte said: 'I realise now the time I spent with her was a really cherished time.
'There was never a bad day, we never argued, we were just really good friends. She was there for me when I needed help, just as she always was for everyone.
'In the end, I wish I'd been there to do the same for her.'
~ Sorry, there's no link for the aticle, it's no longer online
The Amy I Knew ... (Daily Mail Article)
Posted 02 June 2019 - 10:12 AM
The Amy I knew was caring, shy... and happy with a cup of tea and Countdown.
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