Thursday, 6 August 2015

Tattoos on the Throne


Mrs Queen has beaten Queen Victoria for time spent on the throne. Hay says no-one can beat the amount of time I spend on it.

No.2 Daughter is yearning to have a tattoo and I'm trying my best to dissuade her from disfiguring herself for life. Tattoos are generally unacceptable to my generation due to associations with caste and pugilism (tat wearers of my generation were genuinely rebellious individuals - or pissed when they got them - and not fashion victims), but if they must be worn, then only on an able seaman, and even then I have strong reservations.

I've mentioned this before, but had a tattoo when 20 and in a drunken stupor after a stag night in Tilbury, where I was standing by a few ships as 3rd Mate just before my wedding. The purchase of 2 crates of Tennants Thistle cans contributed heavily to my condition, and I wish to hell I'd been stone, cold sober. 

As it transpired, I ended up with a somewhat traditional maritime theme of a sailing ship under full sail with the logo HOMEWARD BOUND. Not so many years later the writing was indecipherable and could have been anything. The once bright and majestic sailing ship looks like a faded cartoon and the sun in the tattoo set many decades ago. It's a hideous, disfiguring splodge. I was so ashamed of it (officers just didn't have tattoos) that I never wore short sleeved shirts ever again in the presence of my father. I just thanked God it wasn't something more lurid.

I find tattoos on women frightening, as in my younger day it was only low caste ladies and ladies of the night who sported them - and of course ladies belonging to certain tribes in the Naga Hills of Burma. To me they're not attractive, but that's purely a generational thing. I think I wouldn't mind so much if they were individualistic, but they are usually all on a similar theme, as if the tat artists share the same Ladybird Book of Tattoos.

Ones with foreign script are especially dangerous - what you think are ancient words of deep wisdom turn out to be adverts for the local Chinese chippy or some Arabian swear words.

One of the sailors on a ship I served in as a cadet in the early 70s had a wonderful tattoo of a huge bunch of yellow roses on his chest, which was fairly artistic. There's the apocryphal tattoo, which I've never actually seen, of a hunt scene on a sailor's back that stretches down to his bum, where the fox is darting into it's foxhole (all you can see is his tail) - you can guess what the foxhole was. And then there's the usual LOVE and HAT across the knuckles.

That said, I do find this one acceptable as it has functionality - the hiding of mastectomy scars.


You could wear that on the beach and no-one would be the wiser that it wasn't in fact a bikini top.


1 comment:

  1. Fret not CB, you are in esteemed company. Edward VII had a tattoo as did George V, Lady Randolph Churchill, and also Winston Churchill who sported an anchor on his left forearm. Though I don't know if two crates of Tennants was involved...possibly a crate of Moet or two.

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