South Wales Echo

South Wales Echo

14 July 11

South Wales Echo
Tracey Moberly
Why not C if U like artist's text message book

Thursday, 14 July, 2011
Now the texts sit alongside bizarre greetings from celebrities including Pete Doherty and Howard Marks. Moberly, who used to run trendy star hangout The Foundry in East London, started collecting the electronic "sugar rushes" in 1999, when she found herself alone and a single mum after separating from her husband.

'I was coming out of a tumultuous relationship,' she said.

'I would be on a bus, going through the city on a really grey, horrible day, feeling shattered, upset and stressed out - and I would get this "ping".'

'The very first one I kept was from a male friend, and I didn't know what the noise was. I'd only had a mobile for two months, it was one of those really old Nokia ones and people weren't texting as madly as they are now.

'I remember that text because it was the first one I was able to answer. It was so lovely, and so supportive, and not something Dave would have had the courage to say to my face. I thought there and then I had to start keeping them.'

Tracey started writing her texts down in journals, quickly filling 60 books before transferring them to a computer. She soon hit upon the idea of bringing the importance of text messaging to life on paper.

Now those brief messages, from the most domestically banal to ones from former Libertines singer Doherty about jellied eels, form the basis of her unusual memoir, Text-Me-Up!, which is released in stores today. She said: 'It's a decade of my life in text.

'But it's not just my life, I think of it as a slice of social history and people say it's an unusual archive of social and cultural history.'

The hardback, published by Beautiful Books, runs as three narratives spanning the years since the 'text revolution' in Britain kicked off in 2001, and is written autobiographically, chronologically and historically.

Tracey dedicates the book to a text from her late father, Gwyn, and his is the first in the book.

'I found his old mobile phone and he'd done that thing where he'd tried to send a text to me but he'd sent it to himself,' she said. 'It simply read "it's dad", and it had stayed on his phone for seven years and I'd never received it.'

'I'd never really mourned him properly before and I just broke down.'

Now Tracey, who receives up to 50 texts a day, says she has enough material to write 40 more books after keeping hold of a total of 90,000 texts.

Tracey will be launching Text-Me-Up! at Milkwood Gallery in Roath, Cardiff, tonight from 6pm.

Caption: Tracey Moberly, from Gilfach, has published her autobiography, right, made up of text messages from friends PICTURE: Alice Hawkins