Tracey Emin: My Life In A Column

'I have a very big, full, blossomy breast that should be enough to take all matters of the heart'
Click to follow
The Independent Online

I've been going through a strange time lately. Inexplicable moments of purgatory: up and down, high and low. I think it's shown itself through my column. In fact, it has shown itself so much that I now have to thank everyone who sent me letters in the last few weeks wishing me to get well etc... Even my stalker gave me a stern ticking-off. They said that if I didn't get out of this depression they would start reading someone else's column. So I am now going to write a really depressing column!

I've had a kidney infection for over a week now. Can't drink, can't think, have a terrible headache in my left eye, and I feel like I have been violently kicked in the ribs. It has a really adverse side effect: I can't stand being touched. But I don't understand when you walk into a room of three or four hundred people why everybody wants to kiss you. I don't mean just kiss me; they all want to kiss each other. When you think about it rationally, it's really strange. You kiss people that you really love. You hold people that you have a deep, fond affection for. And in the big room, when you hug and hold and kiss, it means that you have a deep, fond, public affection for them. I find this really difficult with hundreds and hundreds of people. But then I find love very difficult. There are all different kinds of love. I'm a master of the unrequited. I make a very good, passionate runner, always puffing and panting my way to love, heart pounding. I would like to say now: "Out of my tiny chest, like some small wounded bird," but it's not true. I have a very big, full, bouncy, blossomy, heart-shaped breast that should be big enough to take all matters of the heart.

So let's go back to this really depressing migraine headache. I had to go back to bed at 2 o'clock in the afternoon. I had just watched Gordon Brown's conference speech and was mentally pondering the pros and cons. (And for all the fans of Private Eye's Pseuds Corner, there are many other ways to ponder in bed!) When I realised it really wasn't helping the headache, I took two more paracetamol, drank another 25 gallons of water, and after holding the bridge of my nose as hard as I possibly could with my forefinger and thumb, pressing my brain as far up as I could underneath my eyebrows, my head sank into the pillow and I slowly drifted off to sleep – to be sharply woken, of course, by the strange, incongruously tiny feet of Docket. He somehow had pulled himself through the window backwards and was jumping around at the bottom of the bed in a sort of satanic warlord dance, and next to him was chirping, screaming, beautiful, grey-and-green majestic-looking fledgling.

With my left eye screwed up like a corkscrew, naked and sweating like the speed of light, I hurled myself out of the bed to the other side of the room. The baby bird scampered underneath the wicker chair. Docket ran round in frenzied, crazy circles, swiping his paw underneath. He forced his head under the chair, his whole body becoming flat like a furry carpet, and like some exotic, upside-down limbo dancer he wiggled his way underneath, forcing the bird to shoot out through the other side. The bird began to flap and panic as Docket started to pat it. Not killing it, not trying to kill it, just patting it, playing with it, trying to tease it. I grabbed Docket underneath his stomach. Shoving him underneath my arm I ran downstairs and locked him in my dressing room. Upstairs in my bedroom the bird lay under the chair, totally motionless like it was dead. I thought it was dead at first. As I passed my hand underneath the wicker and gently rested it on the bird's wing. I could feel its little heart beating. Birds will play dead – it's safer. The cat doesn't want to eat the bird. Doesn't want to kill the bird. It wants to play with it. And if the bird's no fun, the cat will get bored, slightly distracted, giving the bird a chance to fly away.

In life we are sometimes asked questions that we really can't answer. It's a waiting game, knowing that time sorts stuff out. But sometimes there is a breathless moment where you feel that if you don't act, if you don't make a decision, everything will be too late. It's one of those "now, now, now" things. Personally I should take note from my little friend the bird. I don't have to run around like a lunatic, complicating my life, feeling confused and indecisive. Maybe if I just rest back and close my eyes someone will come along, pick me gently, and chuck me out the window! But it's cool when one is confused. Life is not all straight. We never know what's coming to get us. As Lord Byron said: "I'm standing on the edge of a precipice and it's the most wonderful view."

Comments