Tuesday, October 27, 2009

My Booze Heaven (from Strangeland by Tracey Emin)

The phone's ringing. My head's ringing. It's Wobbly (Gillian Wearing).

'Wotcher, Wobs,' I said. 'Congradulations on winning the twenty grand'.

She begins to relate her highlight of the night before. And even though she was dead chuffed to have won the Turner Prize, it was my Rock Maiden Rides Out TV appearance.

'But I wasn't on TV,' I say. 'Last night I fucked up big time. I missed out on five hundred quid.

All I had to do was sit there and talk about "Is painting dead?" But I blew it to celebrate with you.'

Gillian insists I was there, live on Channel 4, pissed out of my brain, my final remark: 'I want to be with my friends. I've got to phone my mom.'

'Very funny, Gillian, but you don't get me like that. What a wind-up!' I hold on the phone - my brain's about to explode, but I'm laughing - and turn to the man lying next to me. 'Oi, Mat, wake up. Was I on TV last night?'

Grunts, 'No'.

'Hey, Gillian, get of the phone. My hangover's too bad. Just take your humour somewhere else.'

I close the call with her still insisting that it's all true.

I go back to sleep thinking, How wonderful that my friend has time to crack a joke, even at the height of her celebrations, in the wake of her success.

A few hours later, I'm sitting in a cafe in Shoreditch, drinking coffee and feeling slightly more alive. I open the Guardian.

Complete fucking horror.

It's me, wearing my Vivienne tan top with the accessory of a bloody-bandaged broken finger, pissed on the television. And now it starts to come back. It wasn't someone's house: those comfy chairs, those strange people. It wasn't a dream. It was real. It was me.

I switched my mobile on. The elctronic voice tells me I have twelve new messages. The first is from Angela Bulloch (another Turner Prize nominee), laughing. Just her voice, laughing.

Every bloody message is the same: all me mates, all of whom caught the Turner Prize coverage of video.

Radio 5 calls me. They want a quick interview. The Tate calls to reassure me that I have caused them no embarrasment: I am an artist and that's the end of it. My gallery is inundated with requests for me to appear on chat-shows.

My art's selling like hot cakes.

My mum calls to say, 'Thank you for remembering me, even though you were on the point of unconsciosness.' (She had seen it on the news.)

All the phones are ringing every few minutes. I can't cope. I'm emberrassed and confused. I don't understand. It's like remembering nothing from your childhood, being shown photos, being told events and, bit by bit, assembling a possibly false memory from those fragments.

Am I now the George Best of the art world? He was a bloody good footballer, world class. But what is he remembered for?

I still don't understand why I behaved as I did, drunk or not drunk. My broken fingure, and the painkillers I'd take for it, must have been something to do with it, although that's no excuse.

(a chapter My Booze Heaven from Tracey Emin's Strangeland)

Here's the actual video from Channel 4.


Nia-Nishi said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Nia-Nishi said...

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