Dazed & Confused
by William Oliver
"It was 1999 when I got my first text message. I had just come of my marriage and was in a of a bad place" says Tracey Moberly, whose book Text-Me-Up! documents the past 12 years her life through text messages. "It was amazing, all of a sudden this message arrived that was just a really nice sentiment, a little sugar rush pinging in." Moberly was instantly addicted and has kept almost every single SMS she has ever received, apart from that very first one. "I accidentally deleted it but regretted it straight afterwards. After losing that one I knew I couldn't just throw them away."
It started without any real destination in mind, the project has gone on to become an inadvertent autobiographical document of her life - a no-holds-barred picture of the highs and lows of those years, the friends she has met and the adventures she has had. "I don't mind that the book became autobiographical, you live therefore you are. It has been something that has run through break-ups and breakdowns. I have included a lot of people from my life but I haven't included anything that is derogatory to people. That's another book entirely," she says wryly.
Moberly's project uses the short and sweet messages we have come to take for granted as her narrative tool. Each chapter is laid out in chronological order, with the texts edited to tell the story of her incredibly interesting life. Adventures to Moscow, New York and Haiti all feature, as do her friends, including Banksy, Bill Drummond, Howard Marks, Irvine Welsh and Pete Doherty.
While Text-Me-Up! is, in one way, Moberly's personal diary, it is also a diary of the people she has come into contact with and what was happening around her. "It's my slice of social and cultural history but in a way I can't claim it as my slice because it is also so many other people's worlds. It's just capturing that particular piece of time."
As well as a diary, the book is also an examination of how the incorporation of 5MS has fundamentally altered the society we live in. "There are a lot of heavily sexual texts in there: 'Kiss my velvet helment' for example. It's the banter you can get away with in a text - there is nothing in it. A lot actually come from female or gay friends. That's a really interesting thing to me, the way texts have changed us and moved us away from that very moralistic society."
TEXT ME UP is published by