Tracey Emin: My Life in a Column

As the old lady said, I may be a witch – but I like to travel by jet, not by broomstick

Thursday 18 July 2013 01:04

Life in the jet lag set

Ahhh, the power of the catnap, I just woke up. I fell asleep on my sofa at my studio. Exhaustion. This week I've done two jets, three palaces, two planes, one wedding, parties. And my name is Tracey – what are the odds of that? This is my favourite time of year; my heart beats faster and faster. As childish as it seems, it is because it is my birthday, and it will soon be a new year for me. I never celebrate New Year's Eve – in fact, I hate it. I usually go to bed around nine o'clock, turn my phone off and try to miss the whole thing. But the eve of my birthday is different. I spend my time wishing and dreaming, trying to project a positive future: I will pass my driving test, I will have a map of Britain and I will have a dart and I will throw the dart at that map, and wherever it takes me. The passion to be free and moving, but still feel safe.

Driving Miss Tracey

The most wonderful thing that has happened to me recently is finding a really good driver. And instead of getting more off my face, I seem to be holding it together and enjoying that responsibility. And everyone is saying how well I look because I am smiling. Last night I went to the Anselm Kiefer after-party, and I danced like a banshee possessed. Didn't fall over once – is this something I should be proud of? I saw Cub Granet (Janet Street-Porter) and she actually picked up her paws and meowed at me – a giant leap for Cub Granet, and a small step for the animal kingdom.

It's my party

So this weekend I have my party. The invitation reads like this: "What to do at 42: have a party to end all parties. So let your chariots roll, love Tracey". The small print says: "And remember, if you want to hang out with Charlie, don't come to my party". For those of you who don't know, that's cocaine, a class-fucking-A, fucking disgusting substance. I have seen it ruin so many of my friends. Last year I was on the TV programme Room 101, and cocaine was one of the things I had banished from the face of the Earth. Paul Merton made a strong point to the audience that I had never taken cocaine – it is not some born-again thing (like my anti-smoking). But it is obvious, being a full-on, self-confessed drinker, never the twain shall meet. I might feel shit and bad with my head down a toilet, but all the coke heads are still in there, and they all say the same thing: coke isn't addictive. I have never taken the stuff, but for years I walked around with rolled up notes, had nosebleeds and talked incessantly about myself. Passive coke, man – it's bad.

My party this year is gonna be a killer, but my birthday is actually on Sunday. Every year I have a mad party. In the old days I used to book out the whole of the Walpole Bay Hotel on Cliftonville. The party used to last at least three or four days, and in the end people were scared to come. My 40th was fantastic. I celebrated it with 150 friends at the home of my friend Hamish McAlpine, on the edge of a cliff, with marquee tent, champagne on tap, Morelli's ice-cream, millions of lobsters, amazing food. It was like a wedding. My single wedding. Some women are only the centre of attention once in their lives, but with me there are countless occasions.

But witches don't get married. Back to Saturday night. I will be in my 10th element. I will no doubt get smashed out of my tiny brains, there will be break dancing competitions, and by six in the morning there will be dancing to the same record again and again and again. "My milkshake brings all the boys to the yard and their life is better than yours".

Stayin' alive

But when I think about what I really want to do on my birthday, I dream about laying in a field, surrounded by poppies, being made love to. But no, I know that at 12 o'clock on Sunday afternoon, the 30 or so survivors (the all-night crowd that do it naturally) will be down at the Golden Heart. The jukebox will be turned up full blast and we will be dancing like lunatics, screaming "In the year 2525, when man was still alive" and Sandra, my favourite landlady in the whole world, will be saying "er, Trace you nurf look good".

I will be flying on autopilot so fast my wings are on fire. Happy birthday, Tracey, see you down the pub.

The last word

PS: Last week I wasn't very clear about the NSPCC child protection helpline. The NSPCC answers every call it can, and is free and available 24 hours a day. If you need someone to turn to, call 0808 800 5000.

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