Tracey Emin: My life as a column

A man who doesn't make me laugh doesn't stand a chance (even if he's well endowed)
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The Independent Online

Every morning when I get up and go downstairs to make a cup of tea, I spend a few minutes looking out the landing window. And I count my roses. Beautiful, white and enchanting, they look like something from a bygone age. Today I counted 45, and tomorrow there will probably be 48. Although it sounds childlike, the magic never ceases to amaze me. I've always believed that your garden is like a mirror to your soul, to your whole being.

Every morning when I get up and go downstairs to make a cup of tea, I spend a few minutes looking out the landing window. And I count my roses. Beautiful, white and enchanting, they look like something from a bygone age. Today I counted 45, and tomorrow there will probably be 48. Although it sounds childlike, the magic never ceases to amaze me. I've always believed that your garden is like a mirror to your soul, to your whole being.

When my boyfriend left me two-and-a-half years ago, I allowed my garden to go to rack and ruin. The ivy was like something from a horror film; it made its way across the courtyard like some black monster from hell. The rose tree had so much black spot and green fly that it was hard to tell what it was. And to make matters worse, every cat in the whole of Spitalfields dumped their shit in my back yard. When I looked from the landing window it was as if I could see what was going on but was powerless to do anything about it.

But it's amazing what a bit of pruning, nurturing, loving and hacking can do. I set to with clippers and shears like some crazed fascist gardener, until I had blisters on my hands. I really do believe that by cutting back, the roots grow stronger.

Call the pool police

This has been a really mad week for me, and stressful too, because I've been installing my new show at White Cube. The only thing that keeps me human is the fact that I swim every day. I swim around 30 lengths very slowly. In my local pool the rule is to swim anticlockwise. But you always find some backstroking, splashing moron going the opposite way. Or all the gay dads with their kids who want to swim in a line. And do you know what I have to do? I have to go and tell the lifeguard. Yes, the pool police.

Once when I was in Amsterdam, staying at the Grand Canal Hotel, I caught a girl giving a guy a blowjob in the sauna. I closed the door and pretended nothing had happened and started to swim my 50 lengths. When the sauna door opened, this girl in leopard-print bikini bottoms, who looked like a cross between Kate Moss and Liz Hurley, jumped into the pool and douched herself. I went totally apeshit. As I screamed at her, Mr Blowjob put his face around the door, and asked what the problem was. Putting hygiene aside, the problem was that I felt old and frumpy.

The joke's on you

Last Friday I went to see The Kumars At Number 42. (It's not really a house, it's a TV studio). Sanjeev is really bright and shagging his grandma, who isn't old at all.

No, seriously, I did get slightly confused. For all my wild behaviour, I am an extremely polite guest when visiting people's homes, and I get slightly shy. Which isn't so good if you're doing a TV interview.

It's quite weird being an artist and doing something like that. But what's even stranger is that somehow, being an artist, the world denies you the possibility of having a sense of humour. Anybody that knows me will know that I like to spend at least 80 per cent of my time laughing. And I like to be extremely puerile. For example, Joe, who lives in my cottage, will tell you that every time he comes into the house, he risks a near heart attack. I like to hide behind a door and jump out on him.

Close encounter

Anyway, back to really large penises. Even if he's got one, a man who doesn't make me laugh doesn't stand a chance. I recently had a penis encounter. As someone went to greet me, I felt a semi-erect penis bounce against my thigh. Though completely unintentional, it did put a smile on my face.

Celebrity celibacy

Being celibate for nearly two years does make you view the world in a very different way. This is why I called my exhibition "When I Think About Sex". The full title of the show is "When I Think About Sex I Think About Men, Women, Dogs, Lions, Groups (And I Love You All)".

This doesn't mean that I've slept with a lion, it just means I've thought about it. I don't even masturbate, I just have ideas. I like my mind to go off into the strangest of places, and that's what leads to my creativity.

I realised this week how passionate I am about what I do. Making art is not a job, it's a way of life, a way of being. I have sacrificed things in my life for my art. But this week sees me happy, happy, happy. Big, big show, big, big party, belly dancers, shisha pipes and tom-tom drums. All my family and friends, me prancing around in my white suit, the super bride married to her art, celebrating her silver jubilee, 25 years of expressing my creative self.

It's important for me that the world sees what I do. It's the way that I communicate. It's a reflection of my soul, the same as my garden. Lucky girl.

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