Tracey Emin: My Life In A Column

'Today, I thought I would combust. I imagine Mum coming in and there's just a singed shirt-cuff'
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The Independent Online

Today, I am writing the column in a room where the column has never been written before. It's the ground floor of my house, which I always refer to as "The Freud Museum". It's an eclectic collection of odds and sods, furniture, knick-knacks and objets d'art that weirdly, happily, hang together, spanning from the 1600s to the present day.

I rarely ever sit in these rooms alone, and it's the only part of the house which I feel is frequented by some spiritual presence from another world.

Not a permanent spirit – it's the kind of place where spirits like to pass through, or just hang out for a short while. It isn't just the rooms. And, when I say rooms, this is because the room itself is made up of two rooms with an opening connecting them. Maybe it's this central arch which gives me the feeling of somewhere where sprits pass through, or it could simply be because it's on the ground floor, the place where you wait when you are expecting visitors, cautiously and apprehensively, occasionally staring out of the window. I don't want to use the word haunted, but there is most definitely something else that resides in these rooms.

It could possibly have something to do with the table. It is a table made up of four wooden boards, with two boards that can be lowered to make the table half its size, leaving a long, thin shape, perfect for a coffin. The table is over 300 years old, and that's exactly what it would have been used for. It had a dual purpose: coffin one day, dinner the next. When I first brought the table into the house, the moment it crossed the threshold of the door, every wall and every stair and every floorboard and every window, every ounce of my house shook.

At first, I wondered whether the house was a little bit jealous of the seniority of the table, or maybe the house was just afraid of what I had let into it.

Docket spent hours prowling and miaowing around the table legs until eventually he pounced and, like a Russian gymnast, rolled from one corner to the other. The table immediately felt warm, as though the wood was being heated from inside. What at first felt frightening, in my home became solid and comfortable, a port of rest for the elbows of my friends.

My collection of hand-blown, green Georgian glasses; my drawing by Peter Blake, which is a portrait of my feet; various little Victorian samplers with phrases such as "come unto me" and "with you I love"; Egyptian cats and Nefertiti memorabilia; my grandmother's rose-mirrored table standing with the ashes of Fleabite, an affectionate little stray; felt-covered top hats; photographs of myself and Sandra Esqulant dressed as Mother Teresa, blue-and-white tea towels round our heads; Regency cats dressed up in an Oriental style; miniature chairs; William Morris patchwork curtains and a Georgian settle, which many a coachman must have rested his head upon. Most of this is reflected in a large mirror that hangs in the wood-panelled hall.

I spend a lot of my time, today especially, wondering why my life is so complicated. Today, at one point, at the kitchen table, I thought I was going to spontaneously combust. My Mum is staying with me, it's her birthday, but I'm not allowed to say how old she is. I just imagine her coming down the stairs and there, at the table, just a singed cuff of my blue shirt. My Mum, after spending a couple of days with me, believes my headaches are simply because I don't drink any more. It's got something to do with reality. My friend Gregor, his theory is that it's because I don't come enough. What gives him any kind of inside information is beyond me, but maybe he's only speaking from his own experience, I don't know.

One clear thought for today, in amongst all the clutter of my mind, all the clutter of my house, my collections, my past, the mirror that reflects everything that surrounds me, which in turn doubly complicates everything, the one clear thought is, that I was born to drink and fuck.

What has gone so terribly wrong in my life? I'm weighing up all the pros and cons, the extremities of my own existence and really, really, really questioning what life is about. Everything that surrounds me one day feels like nothing, like I never needed it and I can live without it, and another day I cling to everything which is familiar, touched and loved and owned by me, as if these objects are part of who I actually am. As if part of my soul and being has seeped into them and remains there, even when I am not.

My home feels happier when I am in it. How should I know how it feels otherwise? But somehow I do. It's like I'm attached to this material world that I have created; a space where I don't rattle, I float. I clearly see myself in 100 years' time, sitting at my table, walking up and down my stairs, turning on and off the lights, leafing through my books, counting my roses from the second landing window and always happily enjoying what is mine. Yes,I really think you can take it with you.

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