Sunday, 29 April 2012

Ramblings: Scar Tissue

I’m not sure that this post is going to win me any friends at all but I feel the need to come and say it: I absolutely hate tattoos. All of them.

I’m not sure if it’s ingrained in me from my 1970s upbringing, when the only people who had tattoos were those who’d been in prison or worked as sailors, but I find them distasteful. Tattooed people were avoided and seen as a bit dodgy. They were the domain of the sort of men who hung about in rough backstreet pubs, smoking filter less cigarettes and selling knocked off items. They were a sign that you’d done a spell inside. Tattoos on women were completely unheard of and unlikely to be seen outside of young offender’s institution.

I’ve seen plenty of inappropriate tattoos on old people during my career. There’s nothing quite like reaching 80 and having a tattoo of a distorted naked woman up your forearm. She may have looked like Betty Grable in the 1950s but now she’s more likely to look Bette Davis as she looks now. Saggy skin, changes in pigmentation and faded ink combine to give a less than attractive look.

My two favourite tattoos were the one where the man had random letters on his fingers which when combined asked if you wanted sex. He told me it often worked for him. I can’t imagine where. I wonder if it was at Henley Regatta or in the Royal Enclosure at Ascot? On a similar vein, I met a man once who had a tattoo saying “Suck my dick” on his abdomen. Thoughtfully, he’d also provided an arrow in case you didn’t know where dicks are normally situated. I do like people who are helpful.

My parents both got tattooed on their 50th birthdays, seeing it as something shocking and fun to do, to prove they were still alive. To my mind, it just proved that they were still without taste or boundaries. My brother has a couple of tattoos which date him as being active in the 1990s. He chose Celtic bands which were fashionable at the time. That’s the trouble with tattoos. You can’t take them back and change them for another one once they go out of style. Look at all those poor suckers who are now scarred with hideous pastel blue dolphins and cheeky cartoon characters which they must surely wish would morph into something more current. Not only do society’s tastes change as we get older but ours do too. Surely no one would choose their wardrobe for the next 50 years at age 20? Yet people choose a permanent body adornment without thinking that their tastes and style may well evolve as they get older.

I remember at school, at the start of term, having lovely pristine exercise books and loving how pure and neat they looked. After a few weeks of stultifying boredom I’d begin to doodle, drawing what I considered attractive patterns over the covers. Within days the books would be ugly, scrawled over and have lost their beauty. That’s what I see the psychology of tattoos as. You take something nice and doodle on it and then wish you hadn’t.

If I was a canny businessman, then the business I’d set up now is tattoo removal. It’s going to be massive, surely. I’d make a million. Either that or a cosmetic ear repair store for those people who are choosing to stretch their ears like they belong to an ancient tribe. Now that’s something I can’t even begin to try to work out.

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