Friday 27 October 2006
Tracey Emin: My Life In A Column
'It's horrible being ill. Especially as last week I was swearing I was going to change my whole life'
Today I am in a phenomenally bad mood. I have spent most of last week in bed with a very vile case of the flu. I have spent hours and hours in my bedroom staring around the room, attempting to see things I have never seen before, in between sweating, shivering, heating and overheating followed by manic rasping for fresh air. I lunged myself out of bed towards the window, pulled back the curtains and opened it as wide as possible. The most amazing, autumnal, crystal-blue light of day fills my field of vision. I focus on the eclectic East End rooftops with their personalised chimneys and simple but yet somehow exotic tile work. I looked down at my garden - everything is still green and vastly overgrown. In between the ivy something rustles and Docket's little face appears. My eyes follow him as he climbs up the steps of the cottage roof, tilters on the decking and after three little movements, leaps up onto a neighbour's rooftop garden - a good three feet away. He then goes out of sight for a few moments and reappears, graceful in terms of human, but extremely jittery for the cat world, as he ambles dangerously along the skinny rooftop parapets. No matter how nervous he looks, I can still see he enjoys his freedom and his independence. He's only had this strange cat-like apprehension since smashing up his little Achilles' heel in the summer. It's as though every little step he takes is made with the most massive amount of caution. I wonder whether this is a good thing or a bad thing for a cat. I can relate to it - it's like every time I turn the ignition for my car and boldly, yet timidly, drive out into the streets of London, my heart pounding trying to enjoy my journey, but also in fear of every moment of it. There is danger in being over-safe and over-cautious, like the person who drives far too slow on the motorway, or the person who will never try anything new on the menu. Oh, the fear of exploring.
I have been watching a lot of daytime TV. Such great classics as Under the Hammer, Treasure in the Attic, Move to the Country, To Buy or Not to Buy. They must definitely have a hardcore cult following - or were they intended for the lame and addicted? It's horrible being ill. Especially as this time last week I was swearing I was going to change my whole life, give myself 100 per cent more direction and focus. I did my book signing - there was a good hundred people there. I dragged myself out of bed and somehow patted myself all together, knowing that anytime I could completely collapse. I signed all the books stoically. The moment I finished, I rose from the table and projectile vomited all the way down the marble stairs. It was like a vomit Niagara Falls in Waterstone's Piccadilly. I was truly the professional about it. It's weird, there is one thing I have never done and would never do - that is to cry wolf when being ill. I really, really want to go out tonight - I want to go to the launch of the Audi. I want to go to the opening of the new Café at the National Gallery. I want to see the new exhibition at White Cube. But I am not drinking, and I feel really unwell. And I want to get better really soon. One good thing about being ill is you have time to read. I have had a bit of a Janet Street-Porter fest. I decided to Google her - it's extremely entertaining. Christ, that woman's got some gumption. And now I am reading her latest book, Fall Out. It's brilliant - in between coughing up balls of green phlegm, bucketloads of snot and eyes that have the consistency of sandpaper - it's fantastic to read something that makes you laugh out loud, if only for its pure, unshakeable irreverence. Lucky that I know Janet is really cute and sweet, otherwise I would be really scared of her. I wonder if there has ever been a Janet Street-Porter doll? It would be brilliant - you could have different glasses, different colour hair, spangly outfits, little walking boots. You could have Janet the newspaper editor, TV executive, Jungle Janet - someone's got to do it.
It's brilliant when you're not well - what you think about, having time on your hands. The worst thing about lying in bed for days, especially my bed, is it's really uncomfortable. Recently I have been having to go to the chiropractor because I dislodged one of my lower vertebras, or something like that, I don't want to get all technical. What it's actually meant is the last few months, I have been in quite a lot of pain and my hip joint kept setting. And I was having to go up and down the stairs one leg at a time. Have you ever been to a chiropractor? The only way I can describe the treatment is that I feel like a crab who has its whole shell splattered. And after the initial pain, a new shell grows, and it's immediate relief. And I don't mean that in any hippie, guru-type-of-shit way. I was telling my chiropractor the other week how amazing it was, the fact that I even dreamt better after the treatments. And we talked about how dreams were connected to the nervous system and the whole of life's energy flow. And I said, while we're talking about dreaming and sleep, my mattress is really uncomfortable. It's knackered and it's really had it. Can you suggest something that would be good for my back? He then told me about the Tempur mattress that was designed by Nasa that fits and fulfils every one of your contours as if you were floating on space. He then said, what's really great about this company is they will usually give you a six-month trial on any mattress. I chuckled to myself as I walked out the door. I thought, God my chiropractor's a professional - who'd give me a trial on any mattress? But then again, I too am a professional. You know, maybe I will go out tonight.
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