Viv Albertine: ‘I set out to write about an unpleasant woman who fantasised about murder. It turned out to be me’

Writing honestly about her mother’s death and her dysfunctional family has helped her to survive

Looking down at my mother’s pale, papery face as she lay on her care-home bed, eyes closed, breaths sounding as if they were gurgling up from the bottom of a mud swamp, I accepted at last that she was going to die. My sister, who had arrived half an hour before me and requisitioned the “best” side of the bed, clutched Mum’s head in the crook of her arm and cooed at her. I held Mum’s hand but she was twisted away from me towards my sister. I felt excluded from her death.

I’d received a message 40 minutes before, while at the launch party for my first book, that Mum was turning blue, so I left the party and raced across town in a cab. I was relieved when I arrived to see that my mother was still alive ...