Sunday, 10 June 2007

One: Get a tattoo

Not my first but my second. The first was at 50, upon entering that mature phase of ones life, oh yes and waiting expectantly for oodles of wisdom that would appear miraculously in the middle of the night.

So off I went while living in Cape Town ( gorgeous Cape Town) to some grungy, dingy, dodgy looking 'dive' adorned with dozens of horrific sketches of anything and everything you could have attached to any part of your anatomy.

Why you might ask, why did I choose that particular 'establishment'? Purely on recommendation, oh yes, it was a recommendation from one of my colleagues at school, another well -respected middle -aged member of the community, who had just had an adorable little blue dolphin tattooed on her right hip.

The only female tattooist in the whole place was deftly covering a man's back with an intricate dragon, so I turned blushingly to the only other person there,and stammeringly asked him to do the deed before I lost my nerve.
He invited me into his 'parlour' behind a bright red curtain- the colour of blood - I thought panicking.

At that stage I wasn't going to lift up my dress to display my hip ( I had not even thought to wear a skirt and blouse that day), so I clumsily pulled my bodice sideways, and showing him the left side of my upper chest, asked for a 'fish', a 'very small fish' and 'will it hurt?' and 'are your instruments clean?'

He chuckled and went off to fetch me a much-thumbed catalogue/sketch book/of fish- all sorts of wierd and wonderful, intricate and simple forms; and asked me to choose one of them, which I did, by now in a complete tizz. Here I was about to change the appearance of my upper torso forever and making an instant decision without even getting a second opinion, like 'how does this look on me? ' or 'do you think this one will suit me? or even 'is this the right place to put this?

I won't describe the rest to you, only to say that having a baby was preferable, but Steve (who had his face as close to mine as any ardent lover might have) was so calm and chatty and complimentary about me, my age,my skin, bla bla that I relaxed and even started to enjoy the whole experience, patting myself on the back for this extreme form of bravery and determination, this willingness to be scarred forever by a complete stranger who I would never see again.

The result is one that I am thrilled with and love to this day, my little fishie that everyone remarks on when my blouse tends to fall slightly open, that the older kids at school 'ooh' and 'aah' about, giggling behind their hands at this really 'old' teacher with a tattoo.

So, before I turn 60 I will be having the next one done, and then the next when I turn 70, and 80.

Anyone out there who can recommend a not too grungy, not too dingy, not too dodgy dive somewhere in London?