Distraught fans gather at Winehouse’s home

Tributes of beer bottles and cigarettes as well as the more usual flowers lie at the corner of the leafy north London square where British singer Amy Winehouse died on Saturday, resembling the instant memorials at road crash sites.

“May the Lord have mercy on your sweet, silly soul,” says one hastily scribbled message from a fan, simply signed “Hugh”.

“Thank you for your voice,” says another. “Your tiny body was too small to hold your talent.”

Blue police tape keeps the thin crowds away from the tall black wall at the front of the performer’s Victorian house in Camden Square, where she was found dead late on Saturday afternoon.

The gated garden square, with its many mature trees, is still locked to keep photographers from finding vantage points to peer into the house.

Flowers also carpet the pavement opposite the house, in that instant outpouring of collected grief that has come to characterise the death of prominent individuals.

On the street, a third wave of onlookers has arrived at the affluent north London enclave, where houses cost can easily cost in excess of £1.5m.

Fans, distraught friends and curious local youths formed the first wave on Saturday afternoon. Some were settling in for a long vigil outside the home that Winehouse only recently moved into, carrying bags full of supplies from the local supermarket.

The second came late at night – the dimly lit streets resembling a scene from the zombie movie Shaun of the Dead as streams of silent, hollow-eyed fans made their way up the hill from the bright bars of central Camden to pay their respects.

Today, Camden Square has become one of the sights for foreign tourists, with families walking through the bright sunlight to tick the newly laid shrine off the list.

Swelling numbers, with the sort of summer weather that London has this year mostly been denied, are taking on a holiday mood. “Do you want an ice-cream?” one onlooker asked her companion.

There is nothing to see at the house the performer restored before she moved in, though, so most pass the time by watching the foreign television crews repeating takes.

Many of the onlookers are locals, however. One London mother, there with her young daughter, is insistent that Winehouse’s history of drink and drug abuse should not cloud appreciation of her work. “It’s part of life – bad things happen,” she says. “This is about her art.”

Sarah, 24, from the neighbouring north London suburb of Islington, is subdued behind her big, dark glasses.

“It’s really affected me. I wanted to come and pay my respects for a few minutes,” she says. “I can’t judge her use of alcohol or drugs. It’s often the way – she was a genuine genius. And this is a tragic waste.”

While many residents welcomed the performer’s move to their immediate neighbourhood, some were fearful that it would bring hordes of paparazzi and fans. Ironically, it has taken her death to bring that about.

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