Tracey Emin: My Life in a Column

The idea of one week in bed, having mad, unconditional sex - what I would do for that?
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Monday night I was supposed to go to the Electric Cinema. My friend Vivienne - as in Dame Vivienne Westwood, there's nothing like a dame - was host for the evening. She'd chosen a film on the life of Leonard Peltier, a man convicted of a crime that (Vivienne and many others say) he did not commit. Vivienne has been campaigning non-stop to make people aware of his plight and that of many others who are wrongly convicted. Vivienne is a maverick, a freedom fighter, the Mother of Punk, who truly believes in the freedom of speech.

I felt bad that I wasn't there to show support. But on Monday night, there was no way I could pull myself across to west London. I have been woken up in cinemas and theatres a few times - I snore really loudly, like a giant pig, and it's so unattractive.

Monday night I went to bed early, tucked up safe and innocent, away from the cold, out of harm's way. Cocooned all cosy in my bed, in Air Qantas pyjamas.

As always, I woke up and the insomnia hit in. I flicked through the channels.

And there it was on E4. The Chatterley Affair. I lay in bed listening to the words of DH Lawrence. On screen, people were fucking. I closed my eyes and thought of the words, of the meaning - Oh God, there is something so beautiful, so incredible about true love. Passionate, unforgivable, mad passionate insane sex. I say unforgivable and never saying sorry, only saying what you mean. Nothing's dirty, just totally warm - to be saturated in love.

How amazing DH Lawrence was to get that down. How many people's lives he must have changed.

Lady Chatterley's Lover sold two million copies in three days. Everyone was so desperate to know. I've never read it - people tell me it's not such a great novel. But the sentiment, and all those people who publicly come to its defence.

I lay in bed thinking about it all and then I cried. Not a vast amount of tears. Just a couple.


I try to take life by the horns, embrace every given moment. With almost every thing I do, I'd say I am almost 100 per cent emotionally charged - except love.

All night I lay there awake, feeling so angry with myself. You see I know how it is to be physically in love, I know how it is to feel so engulfed that you feel as though you will disappear.

I lay there wrestling with my conscience.

The idea of one week in bed, having mad, beautiful, unadulterated, unconditional sex. Oh God, what I would do for that. And that's when I started to cry. Would I swap all my morals, beliefs, my way of life for that? For years now, I have been living like a fucking nun. I set up so many rules and regulations. And I stick to them. There has to be some parameters, some kind of fence, otherwise I think I would be totally out of control.

Especially with sex. When I was young - 14 or 15 - I would just sleep with anyone I took a fancy to. Then when I was around 15 or 16, I put a stop to it all. At the time I referred to it as "The Age of Reason", never having actually read a book, let alone anything by Thomas Paine.

I just felt it was wrong for me to keep having sex! Now I have to question what I believe in, how much is belief and how much is habit. Have my morals become a system just to make my life more palatable or is it really a good way for me to live?

Moral clearout

Guilt can be a real killer - it can drive the soul into hell.

At the moment, I feel guilty about having too much, too many things, being too materialistic. I am trying to eradicate everything from my life that does not have true meaning or a true purpose - clothes, shoes, nick-nacks, furniture. Unless I know why it's there and where it came from, I don't want it. I feel the same way about my beliefs, my moral self.

I feel I have been letting myself off far too easily.

Maybe it's a mid-life thing. But not a crisis, more like a challenge. In pursuit of my real self.

I am so lucky, I have a voice, a really loud one. I have no inhibitions - I am not incarcerated, I am not trapped, I am not sharing my life with someone who has become a stranger, and I am never afraid to speak my mind.

But still, the truth is, I can never say the things I dream of saying or feel the deep emotions I wish to feel.

It's hard to live without love. Or maybe I just don't come enough.