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?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Solution Architect - Contract

£500 - £600 per day: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Solution Architect is requir...

360 Resourcing Solutions: Export Sales Coordinator

£18k - 20k per year: 360 Resourcing Solutions: ROLE: Export Sales Coordinato...

Recruitment Genius: B2B Telesales Executive - OTE £35,000+

£20000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The largest developer of mobile...

SThree: Talent Acquisition Consultant

£22500 - £27000 per annum + OTE £45K: SThree: Since our inception in 1986, STh...

Day In a Page

Read Next
The old 1,000 Greek drachma notes and current 20 euros  

Greece debt crisis: History shows 'new drachma' is nothing to fear

Ben Chu
David Cameron leaves Number 10 to speak at Parliament  

Tunisia attack: To prevent more bloodshed we must accept that containment has not worked

Patrick Cockburn
How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth: Would people co-operate to face down a global peril?

How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth

Would people cooperate to face a global peril?
Just one day to find €1.6bn: Greece edges nearer euro exit

One day to find €1.6bn

Greece is edging inexorably towards an exit from the euro
New 'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could help surgeons and firefighters, say scientists

'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could become reality

Holographic projections would provide extra information on objects in a person's visual field in real time
Sugary drinks 'are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year'

Sugary drinks are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year

The drinks that should be eliminated from people's diets
Pride of Place: Historians map out untold LGBT histories of locations throughout UK

Historians map out untold LGBT histories

Public are being asked to help improve the map
Lionel, Patti, Burt and The Who rock Glasto

Lionel, Patti, Burt and The Who rock Glasto

This was the year of 24-carat Golden Oldies
Paris Fashion Week

Paris Fashion Week

Thom Browne's scarecrows offer a rare beacon in commercial offerings
A year of the caliphate:

Isis, a year of the caliphate

Who can defeat the so-called 'Islamic State' – and how?
Marks and Spencer: Can a new team of designers put the spark back into the high-street brand?

Marks and Spencer

Can a new team of designers put the spark back into the high-street brand?
'We haven't invaded France': Italy's Prime Minister 'reclaims' Europe's highest peak

'We haven't invaded France'

Italy's Prime Minister 'reclaims' Europe's highest peak
Isis in Kobani: Why we ignore the worst of the massacres

Why do we ignore the worst of the massacres?

The West’s determination not to offend its Sunni allies helps Isis and puts us all at risk, says Patrick Cockburn
7/7 bombings 10 years on: Four emergency workers who saved lives recall the shocking day that 52 people were killed

Remembering 7/7 ten years on

Four emergency workers recall their memories of that day – and reveal how it's affected them ever since
Humans: Are the scientists developing robots in danger of replicating the hit Channel 4 drama?

They’re here to help

We want robots to do our drudge work, and to look enough like us for comfort. But are the scientists developing artificial intelligence in danger of replicating the TV drama Humans?
Time to lay these myths about the Deep South to rest

Time to lay these myths about the Deep South to rest

'Heritage' is a loaded word in the Dixie, but the Charleston killings show how dangerous it is to cling to a deadly past, says Rupert Cornwell
What exactly does 'one' mean? Court of Appeal passes judgement on thorny mathematical issue

What exactly does 'one' mean?

Court of Appeal passes judgement on thorny mathematical issue