Tracey Emin: My Life in a Column

I'm so ashamed I (probably) threw up in the American Bar, I'm leaving the country
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Thank God it's the Year of the Dog! Woof woof! Aawwh... Aaaowh... Grrrr... Woof! This week I've been going crazy. Up the wall is an understatement.

Last week, I spent a week in bed. I got up twice. On the Wednesday night, I went to my studio and worked until two in the morning. The next day I was told by Joe, who lives in my cottage (never has an address been so apt), that when he tried to open the front door, when he came home late on Wednesday night, it was stuck. He managed to push it open a couple of inches, but there was something in the way. Could it be the corner of the doormat curled over? No. It was me.

Apparently I had made myself a nice little nest, and on Joe's attempt to try and get me to go to bed, I just raised my head, hiccuped, and said: "Mice."

My next venture into the world last week was Friday. The auspicious occasion - The South Bank Show Awards. I went to bed on Thursday night saying: "Please God, make me better by tomorrow. Make me better by tomorrow." On Friday, at midday, I strutted into the Savoy Hotel, my body awash with Lemsip.

And as I breezed past my first tray of champagne, the words "I'm just so happy to be here. I don't need to drink alcohol" had no relevance in this situation whatsoever. I love the South Bank Show Awards. There is more testosterone per square foot than anywhere else in the world. Men, men, men! Single. Gay. Married. Lovely, intellectual men! It's not exactly a hunting ground - more of a stampede.

Melvyn's telling me how much he liked last week's column. Alan Rickman tells me how much he's enjoyed my book. Discussed the merits of Andy Warhol with Peter Blake. Jarvis Cocker and I give each other a knowing nod - of "we survived the 90s". It's all so wonderful. Until two days later, when I get a phone call from a friend saying: "I thought I'd let you get over it." "What?" I say.

"Friday. The South Bank Awards." "Yeah," I say, "I was a little bit drunk." "What!" yells my friend down the phone. "Trace, you threw up in the American Bar!" Mmmm. Throwing up in public - that's a bad one. Trace's big chance to pull. Here, let me throw up in your drink for you! And on top of it - I ate the fucking lunch! Any chance of the vomit just being pure alcohol would be too much to wish for. But at least a room full of dignitaries came to my rescue, apparently.

Then I walk into my studio to hear my assistant on the phone to a journalist. She puts her hand over the receiver and says: "Trace. They want to know if there's any truth in the story that you..." "Yes, yes, its true! I threw up in the American Bar! I threw up in the American Bar." "No," she says. "That you had an altercation with an opera director called David McVicar. Apparently you upset him so much he stormed out of the room in tears!" "No," I say in a really sing-songy voice.

"No," says my assistant, "you didn't?" "No," I say. "No memory whatsoever! All I remember is saying to a taxi driver: 'Please hurry up! I think I'm going to wet myself!'" Another press statement wings its way!

Yes, probably, it's true. It's all true. And yes, also probably true that I threw up in the American Bar. Also probably true that I should have never gone out on that day. And if so, never alone. And I'm so ashamed I'm leaving the country!

Swear quota

It's a tricky life getting the balance right. I'm not a big drinker, I just can't take my drink. I have the constitution of a mouse. Hic. But one thing is, I have a phenomenal constitution for emotion. I think that's why I'm so often in psychic pain. I've never run away from anything - except having an opinion on opera! (I've since found out that, apparently, the guy called me a cunt. Well, well, well... That's my swear quota gone for this year's column. You know I'm only allowed to have three shits and one fuck a month!)

I rarely ever make mistakes in life. Not when I'm sober. I only make mistakes when I'm drunk. Some may say that that's quite a lot of the time. But I drink to get out of my head. I want to go somewhere else. I want the level of freedom which is absolutely impossible in my natural state of mind.

Drinking is my only vice. My life is divided between four things. Working, drinking, sleeping and swimming. I've got to make room for something more. Something's got to go. But what I might do is just shave a little bit off everything! My middle name has never been Moderation. "It's all or nothing, baby!"

Yes, I'm glad the year of the rooster went out with a bang! It was a bad year for me, even though I feel I made my best work. But the rooster is bound to be bad for me - because I'm a rabbit. Just think about it: chicken/rabbit, not a good look. But get this, a basket, tartan blanket, really cute puppy, long-haired miniature Angora rabbit. Much better year for Tracey!

For the next six weeks Tracey Emin will be travelling round the world. (The wrong way.) Woof!