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'

Share
Related Topics

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.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Barnardo's: Corporate Audit and Inspection – Retail Intern (Leeds)

Unpaid - £4 lunch allowance plus travel to and from work: Barnardo's: Purpose ...

Recruitment Genius: Content Writer - Global Financial Services

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: From modest beginnings the comp...

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer - PHP

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: From modest beginnings the comp...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service / Receptionist

£15000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Journalists Alison Parker and Adam Ward, who were killed after a gunman opened fire during a live broadcast in Virginia  

Because of Facebook and Twitter I still have Alison Parker's final chilling moments looping in my head

Nash Riggins
A Chinese investor holds prayer beads as he monitors stock prices at a brokerage house in Beijing  

We fear China's growing power. But it is morally reprehensible to celebrate the country's woes

Fokke Obbema
The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory
Ashes 2015: Alastair Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Aussie skipper Michael Clarke was lured into believing that what we witnessed at Edgbaston and Trent Bridge would continue in London, says Kevin Garside
Can Rafael Benitez get the best out of Gareth Bale at Real Madrid?

Can Benitez get the best out of Bale?

Back at the club he watched as a boy, the pressure is on Benitez to find a winning blend from Real's multiple talents. As La Liga begins, Pete Jenson asks if it will be enough to stop Barcelona
Athletics World Championships 2015: Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jessica Ennis-Hill and Katarina Johnson-Thompson heptathlon rivalry

Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jess and Kat rivalry

The last time the two British heptathletes competed, Ennis-Hill was on the way to Olympic gold and Johnson-Thompson was just a promising teenager. But a lot has happened in the following three years
Jeremy Corbyn: Joining a shrewd operator desperate for power as he visits the North East

Jeremy Corbyn interview: A shrewd operator desperate for power

His radical anti-austerity agenda has caught the imagination of the left and politically disaffected and set a staid Labour leadership election alight
Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief: Defender of ancient city's past was killed for protecting its future

Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief

Robert Fisk on the defender of the ancient city's past who was killed for protecting its future