Tracey Emin: My Life in a Column

I am afraid of the dark... well, not afraid of the dark but what happens to me when I am in it
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The Independent Online

It's 3.30am, it feels like I can't breathe, but I can feel someone next to me in bed. I roll over, Laura, my studio manager, is next to me. She has the tartan bed covers pulled up almost over her face. She whispers: "I am so scared, man." I look across the room and, there in the darkness, sitting in the chair, is Nosfe-fucking-ratu. "Don't be afraid," I say to Laura. As I look again, he is gone. Laura has kind of slumped and keeled over. As I try to wake her, there is a pain in my right kidney. Nosferatu is there, his hand is rammed into the side of my body. Ripping my soul to pieces. I clamber to put the light on, TV control in hand. I push the entertainment button, Star Trek Voyager Captain - Kathryn Janeway, Seven-of-Nine and Chakotay, all of my good TV friends who I believe have a sound sense of morality. And at that, I swear to God I will never go to sleep in the dark again. It is a problem I have had all my life, I am afraid of the dark. To be accurate, not afraid of the dark but what happens to me when I am in the dark. PURE FEAR.

I wake up in a dream-like state of reality, the nightmare I am having takes place in the room that I am in. An ex-boyfriend once said sleeping with Tracey is like laying next to the girl from The Exorcist.

(A few weeks ago, the famous hypnotist Derren Brown kindly offered to put me out of my misery of being afraid of the dark. I gracefully declined because I thought it might be embarrassing. But I did go to a hypnotist once or twice. Originally, I was going to go to stop smoking, but I'd already done that - by looking in the mirror. Instead, I went to this hypnotist to stop being in love with someone who was not in love with me. I told that person what I'd done. He said in a thick French accent: "Oh my love, I have been many times to stop smoking, you may not be in love for one or two months, but then you can't resist." Ah great humour, happy days ...)

When Laura came around the next day, I told her about the nightmare. She asked me what the Nosferatu had looked like. I tried to explain. "You know, malevolent, white hair, deep, sunken, red eyes, bony fingers ..." Then I realised I was describing Klaus Kinski's portrayal of Nosferatu. Then Laura asked "What does he do?"

Apart from ripping out my kidneys, I didn't actually know. So I suggested we look him up on the net. It was then that a shiver ran down my spine, and Laura said: "Are you crazy? The devil only comes when you invite him in."

Naked delight

Saturday, 10.55am, the doorbell rings. I jump out the shower, throw a towel round me and run down four flights of stairs naked, to find the door double-locked. I shove the key in the lock, stand behind the door and open it wide to hear a man's tiny voice, "No, no, no I can't come in." I close the door quick, look through the spy hole and gasp. "Oh God." "Yes," says the little man holding a briefcase. "Do you mind if I put this through your letter box?" It's a cheaply printed pamphlet full of big questions: Does God really care about us? Why does he permit suffering? Will it ever end? And beautiful images from the oasis of our minds. Happy animals with happy multi-coloured people. A heaven on earth.

For a moment, this book makes me feel good, a lot more generous than most of the stuff that has been pushed through my door recently. And, for the record, for anybody who lives in Bow or Bethnal Green, in fact for anyone in the world, I do not support George Galloway or the Respect Party. And for that matter, at this moment, no particular party.

Condom madness

Sunday I got up at the crack of dawn because Lynn Barber was coming for breakfast. I know Lynn scares quite a lot of people, but I think she is very cuddly. As it was, she couldn't stay for breakfast, so I spent all morning in bed, watching the inaugural mass of Pope Benedict XVI. He was going on about the desert of lost souls and abandoned hearts. I drifted off to sleep to hear about St Peter casting his nets across the Sea of Galilee. And Jesus standing on the shore, holding his hands up high, such a beautiful vision.

Now, I understand about making love, and I know how fantastic it is to have unprotected sex, this magical idea about sperm going on for ever. But I do not understand how, in the 21st century, with 40 million people with HIV and Aids in Africa, the Catholic Church cannot condone the use of a condom.

In 1990, when I was pregnant I woke up in the middle of the night to find St Paul sitting on my bed side. He placed his hand on my forehead and, looking at me, said: "You must go to Rome." And many people have asked me how I know it was St Paul? And I tell them when it's St Paul, you damn well know it is St Paul.

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