Thursday, 2 October 2014

When in Rome, Have a Tattoo


Rome today, then home this evening. Given I'm here, I'm thinking of doing what the Romans do (although I'm not 100% certain what that actually entails).

I think I might do something really subversive. You know how middle-class kids, and even a good smattering of our younger aristos have tattoos? To be really subversive and different, I think I'll not get a tattoo. There, how subversive is that these days?

In my youth, tattoos were the preserve of ladies of the street, gentlemen of the road, gypsies, builders, personnel of the armed forces and seafarers of all hues. To have a tattoo when coming from the middle classes was considered really avant-garde and dissident (my old man didn't even see mine till I was in my late 30s or early 40s). Nowadays there's hardly a kid or a 20-something without at least a 3rd of their bodies covered in the damned things.

As a fashion accessory they kind of defeat the object, as they can't be changed next season - you get stuck in a season and the season is guaranteed to change. Tribal markings may be chic and currently in vogue, but as sure as eggs-is-eggs they will make you look very dated in a few years time.


Burmese neck rings as sported by the Kaya people, or some such stupid thing, will become de-rigeur in a few years time. Take those buggers off and you might end up with a lollopy head (although the effect is actually illusory, as it's the collarbone that's pushed down, not the neck that's elongated).

If you're dead set on having a tattoo, do something unique and timeless, not one that you've seen on your mate, who probably saw it on his mate, ad infinitum. Something like LUV & HAT across your knuckles, which will be grazing the ground, is not recommended.

Neither are phrases in some exotic or dead language, unless you've had it checked out by a native speaker (and even then they may be having you on). There's nothing worse than having a Persian phrase tattooed across your forehead, only find out it a bit later that it actually says; "I'm a bit over-fond of the creme-de-menthe", or "I love bacon", however true that might be.

Oh, it also behoves you to get a tattooist who can spell - saves a lot of pain later.

If in doubt, don't! I regret ever having my sailing ship. Had I been a tad more sober, I might have chosen the figurehead from my old school, or possibly the school crest (which actually is a sailing ship, but a nice one).

I think someone over egged the tint on this...



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