Tracey Emin: My Life in a Column

After my meow-meow karaoke in Basle, I wonder if it isn't time to go on the wagon
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The Independent Online

Fuck me what, a week. I don't know where to start. But there were a hell of a lot of jets and planes for a start. I went to Switzerland twice in one week, for the Basle art fair. Millions of galleries all under one roof, it is the world trade fair for art, where you can buy anything from Francis Bacon to Joseph Beuys. It is where the big players steam in on their jets, spend millions, then fly out again.

I can't believe I have never been on a Lear jet in all my life, then I knock up three in one week. Similarly, I never go to Notting Hill Gate (in fact I hardly ever leave the East End). But this week I have been to west London three times, including the airport. You might think this is a mundane fact. But it is like for two years there being no men and then suddenly they are everywhere – in the bars, in the parks, in the Palace, "Christopher Robin went down on Alice".

Ooh, I forgot, I went to Buckingham Palace last night. I had a really great time. I was the key speaker, talking on behalf of the NSPCC, to promote the Full Stop campaign, which is a helpline for children or anyone suffering child abuse. Telephones are placed in schools all over Britain, but currently, out of every three calls, only two can be answered. I would hate to be the person who decides which calls should not be answered.

Anyway, back to the Palace. I kept saying to myself, "please God let me stay sober," but luckily my friend's mum was there, Sally Wigram, and every time she saw my glass empty she subtly made sure it wasn't refilled. Smart woman.

I sometimes wonder if I would be any brainier if I did not drink. I know for a fact that I would not do so many stupid things, either stuff I regret or, sadly, stuff I don't regret but have no memory of. Like this weekend when I was in Basle. I woke up on Sunday morning to find out I had sung meow-meow karaoke to a very distinguished art audience, would you believe it, at a place called the Kat bar. Apparently, I was in my meow-cat element. That was a bit embarrassing.

Don't try this at home

But hell, I can live with it. Especially after thinking about that mad story of those three Norwegian guys, who had drinking competitions to see who could get the most out of their head. They punched themselves in the face to prove they could not feel anything, and self-mutilated to prove they had passed through the pain barrier.

One night, one of the guys picked up a chainsaw and, to prove he had more balls than the others, swiping the saw through the air managed to hack his own head off. Could you imagine waking up to that? "Yah, Lars, it was a heavy evening last night."

Yep, got to stop drinking. Made a pact with my inner soul – if I pass my driving test, I will cut down by 300 per cent. I think drinking and driving is insane. My uncle Colin, whose birthday it would have been in a couple of weeks, was decapitated when a pissed-up lorry driver pushed his car under a bus at traffic lights in Chingford in 1982. Personally I would have said it was murder – the crime is in knowing that you are doing something wrong. Sometimes when I am drunk, I don't know what the hell I am doing, but I wouldn't get in a car and drive, that's for sure.

Rhine maiden

The Rhine all mine all mine. Back in Basle, I did this brilliant thing on Sunday. I swam down the Rhine. There is a really strong current, and it pulls you really fast. You can go for miles and miles, and when you try to swim against the current, you have a giggling fit because you just stay in the same spot, and that's if you're lucky. I had a beautiful day on Sunday. British Airways treated me like the Queen of Sheba, and I had lots of friends around me. Meow, I really was the cat that got the cream.

Oh, I saw Janet Street-Porter at Sam Taylor-Wood and Jay Jopling's party on Friday. She growled at me, which is a good start, I think. It was an excellent party. Me and my friend Eric fell over again, which meant I went to Switzerland with a bruised nose – very chic. These last few weeks have felt like one big party. I suppose it is that I am celebrating how brilliant life can be. The saddest thing about drinking is the loss of memory of beautiful things. Life is too short.

It's my party...

It is the last few days of my show at White Cube, and when it comes down the partying stops. And the work begins all over again. Oh shit, damn, it is my birthday next week, so maybe my workaholic tendencies will have to wait a little bit longer.

My theme for this year's party is LET THOSE CHARIOTS ROLL, and no, I don't think I am setting myself up, but I know it is going to be a big one. More cream, please. Me-bloody-ow.

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