Tracey Emin: My Life in a Column

A week without alcohol - my brain is back in action and my pheromones are out of control
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The Independent Online

It helps push the world round. It's strange when people pick up on it, like some mad sex magnet. Eric told me it would be like this. "Hey, Sweets," he said. "You know, when you give up drinking, those boys are going to be all over you." Christ, I couldn't believe it, I should have taken out a cricket bat, something just to nudge them back, back. One whole week without one single alcoholic beverage. Not only has my brain been springing back into action, but every pheromone has spun out of control like some massive, giant web.

By the time I got home on Tuesday night I was thinking: what have I done? Behaved impeccably, had nice witty conversation, and didn't fall over once. Or maybe it's just because I was more engaging with people and the thing that was propping me up was my soul, not another drink.

This morning I woke up at 6.30am. My bedroom was quite dark. I could hear the rain. Docket came in through the catflap, soaking wet. He miaowed a bit, he looked so cute and skinny. I went and got a towel and dried him. My bedroom was all warm and cosy. As far as my I Ching is concerned, I'm supposed to sleep in a white room, with white sheets, white rugs and blinds. My inner being is full of fire, so I'm supposed to calm it down. The last thing I'm supposed to have is red sheets, checked duvet, blood red pillows, buckskin headboard, red Persian carpet and tartan curtains. But that's the way I like it.

But I've done something really smart this week, to help with the cuddle factor. I brought this great big fur blanket. Not real fur, of course - the only real fur I have around me is Docket.

I once got asked to do an advertising campaign for the anti-fur movement. It went like this: "SOMETIMES I FANTASISE ABOUT BEING FUCKED BY A LION. KEEP IT REAL, BABY. KEEP IT LIVE." Er, I don't know why, but it never got used. I don't really want to sleep with animals. In fact I think it's wrong. Do they have a conscience?

The same goes for a lot of men. Take Docket, for example. Can you really imagine him saying: "Miaow, Mum. Sorry I threw up on your carpet and your mate trod in it." Do you really think he is sorry, or do you think he did it on purpose? He is a possessive little creature and is prone to fits of jealousy. In fact, on one occasion he threw up all over the house. I could just hear him going up and down the stairs going bleurgh, bleurgh, bleurgh. Mega embarrassing. As I say: "He's not usually like this." But then I don't usually entertain. You see, my very good-looking heterosexual male friend is right. I'm not desperate for a shag - never have been, never will be.

Monogamy matters

While interviewing me last week, a journalist said: "Now tell me about your celibacy." I felt like saying: "As long as you tell me how you fucked your wife last night." But I just answered honestly: "I am not celibate. If I decide to abstain physically it is simply because there isn't anyone I want to have sex with. But if I want to, I will." My thing is that I'm monogamous - and yeah, it's a big deal, it does my head in. It can be years before I'm free. Sometimes I just want to throw myself to the lions and see what happens. Room for one small cat.

But I secretly can't help but admire my friends who sleep around. I think: how the hell can they live like that? That straightfaced lie was hardcore. I don't even like to masturbate because I see too many people's faces. Have you ever made love to someone and wished you were making love to someone else? Eyes closed, conjuring up a face of another. Cruel. Shame on such people who do that. I'm not talking about fucking, I'm talking about making love.

I respect those who live alone, far more than those who live a lie. But next week you can read all about my infidelities. I'm no bloody angel. I have done things that would make Machiavelli eat his heart out (if he'd had one). Yes, I'm an author. It's a big thing to write a book. People keep telling me it's good. I say it's not that good - it's taken me 25 years to write. What is incredible over 25 years is that however much we have the ability to change, the core, the essence stays the same. But everything can be moulded through emotion and experience. What I thought was right then, I no longer have to feel is right for now. We all have the ability to change our minds. Party party here I come.

Strangeland by Tracey Emin will be published by Sceptre on 17 October (£14.99). Emin will be signing copies at Waterstone's, 311 Oxford Street, London W1 at 5.30pm on 21 October.