Tracey Emin: My Life in a Column

I bet him anything that, before the night was out, he would say I was his girlfriend
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The Independent Online

When he first met her he didn't like her much at all. In fact he didn't really want her anywhere near him, and made it quite clear that he found her mentality and attitude bordering on the insane. For her, it all felt very different. She regarded him as someone special; someone who carried light and aura.

A year later, they met up again. But this time it was different. He was chilled out on one of his mum's morphine tabs. She had begun to relax and feel more confident. They walked across Waterloo Bridge and, rather than travel 10 miles across London, he decided to stay at her house. They held hands and she said: "I feel like I've known you all my life. I don't want anything from you, I'm just so happy we're friends."

He spent the night, and in the morning they had breakfast. It was April Fool's Day. They sat on the balcony of her small flat cracking jokes and giggling. Before he left, she asked if he knew a good dentist. He and his friends had spent the last year referring to her as "Jaws", on account of the vast amount of metal in her mouth. He wrote down an address and a phone number. He kissed her goodbye. She waved, yelling: "If the dentist takes my mouth on, I'll give you a pound for every tooth he removes!" A week later, two teeth gone, she wrapped up two pound coins in cardboard and popped them in the post.

Don't walk

The next day he appeared at the door with half a bottle of brandy. The day after that, in the early evening, when he was going to leave, she didn't want him to. But he insisted that he had to go. He'd come the 10 miles across town on his bike. Before closing the door he made it quite clear to her: "I like you. But I can't be with you. I don't want to make a commitment. And I do not want to have a girlfriend. And I'm leaving now." As she watched him walk away, she thought: "Sod that! No one spends two days fucking me and walks away so easily."

She ran out of the flat, down the stairs, unlocked her bike and started to ride after him. It was a good five minutes before he realised, and by this time they were cycling along the river. It was an amazing spring evening. The sky was Prussian blue, striped with amazing lines of purple. He was really fit, and he kept shouting at her: "Go away and leave me alone! Stop following me! I told you - I don't want a girlfriend!"

By the time they had reached Greenwich, she was breathless and sweating. At one point she almost lost sight of him as he disappeared into an industrial estate.

And there, a row of gas-workers' cottages, surrounded by nothing but wasteland. He stood outside one of the houses, and as she cycled up with a smile on her face, he said: "You're not coming in. I didn't ask you to follow me." She looked down sadly and replied: "So I'm supposed to cycle all the way back then?" "OK," he said, but with absolutely no humour, "you can stay the night. But whatever happens, you are not going to be my girlfriend." As she closed the door behind her, she smiled, and said: "Sure. But I bet you anything, before the night is out, you will say I'm your girlfriend."

Deranged caveman

She walked around the house. There was a feeling of desolation. No furniture, just one futon, brown rice and water. This person lived like a monk. After having sex they fell asleep, to be woken by an almighty smash. He jumped up out of bed, naked like some deranged caveman. And picking up a baseball bat, he ran downstairs, shouting with such incredible force: "Get out of my house!"

His shout lingered in the air, and when the ringing sound disappeared, she nervously called out: "What is it? Is everything OK?" He told her to stay where she was and not to move. He called the police. It appeared that someone had thrown a milk bottle through the window. This was a house in the middle of nowhere, on a street which led to nowhere but the river Thames. This was a place where there were no passers-by. It was 3 o'clock in the morning.

The police did a routine check of the house. They asked him various questions. She listened at the top of the stairs. She could hear him say: "No. I don't know why anyone would throw a milk bottle through the window. No, I don't have any enemies."

Before the police left, they asked whether he lived in the house alone. "Yes," he said. "Well, who's that upstairs?" "Oh," he said, "it's just my girlfriend..."

He came back upstairs. She was lying on the bed, thrusting her pelvis forward, and slamming her fists up into the air, going: "Yes! Yes! YES!"

Tracey Emin is on an aeroplane somewhere in the world at the moment, remembering some of her favourite moments of her life