I’m up to a grand total of eleven holes in my head so far, not including my nostrils, gob and ear holes, none of which have been artificially fashioned despite how they might first appear. The number sounds more dramatic than it is – I have six piercings in one ear, three in the other and two in my nose. My two nose rings are about as edgy as it gets, although I have entertained the idea of getting one or two ‘elsewhere’ on my ageing bod. But would I want to subject the glorious hole-poking geniuses at Urban Piercings to my 43 year old vag? Probably not. Plus, I tend not to broadcast my vagina. I’m considerate like that.
That being said, and feel free to call me a right old Patsy Pervert, the process of being pierced is quite honestly among the most pleasurable things I have subjected my body too. I love the ‘fight or flight’ buzz that your body involuntarily whacks up once the needle has pushed through. Even the soreness and swelling has a pleasing physical hum as the body tries to comprehend the invasion.
Yet as time trundles along and I run out of bits that I can reasonably have holes stuck in without looking like Hellraiser’s Nan, I’m starting to love the idea of a tattoo. Or two. Or three. Let’s not kid ourselves here, beloved reader, I’m near on fucking incapable of doing anything in moderation. Particularly if it feels good, looks good and is potentially fun.
I’m well aware that by Tattoo Fixers standards, this is a seriously late start to the needle, but unlike half the brainiacs who find themselves in a dodgy old shop fit in Hackney, begging for a freebie that’s quadruple the size of the original tattoo (of a flower, a rabid animal or one of those ‘peeled back skin revealing mechanics’ type doodliewhatnots), I’m actually pretty glad that this particular love has only recently seriously manifested itself. At nearing 43, the chances of finding myself with a cartoon penis on my bicep are significantly reduced. We are all also well-acquainted with the wonders of that Internet, which presents us with a veritable cornucopia of powerful designs from incredible artists.
There are over 40 MILLION images on Instagram hashtagged with #tattoos. Fuck me.
So if everyone is doing it, there are gazillions of awesome artists to choose from, I have no fear of pain and a serious interest in having a tattoo, why am I finding it so bloody hard to take the plunge?
One word: Ibiza.
The last couple of years, my family and I have abandoned Blighty in favour of a two week amaretto bender on the beach in the Balearics. Without a word of a lie, it’s bloody marvellous in every shape and form. The sun is perfect, the sea blue, the beaches golden and the sunsets and sunrises are worth losing sleep over. And everywhere we go, we are addressed in Italian, French, Spanish… and looked at with absolute incredulity when we reveal ourselves to be English in all our Home Counties accented glory. It’s not a massive surprise, given that my half Japanese husband and I hardly look like your typical Brits, but I remain convinced that this is, at least in part, to do with the total absence of tattoos from our bodies.
On matters of holiday-making, we have a policy of “following the Germans”. Husband’s paternal German family taught him that our Deutsche cousins don’t tolerate any shit. Their presence will more or less guarantee the inclusion of a decent sparkling wine with breakfast and zero bollocksing about when it comes to standards of food, hygiene and a generous approach to weights and measures.
For this reason alone, we don’t encounter all that many Brits abroad, but the ones we do are often a mass of sweaty, sunburned contradictions. They can somehow cope admirably with nothing short of heroic amounts of alcohol and clearly have zero fear of needles (given that they are practically wallpapered in sodding tattoos), yet fall into a blind panic at the absence of brown sauce and go green at the prospect of eating anything that isn’t beige.
I’m not going to get all `Brexit’ on you because that would place me squarely among the tedious, intolerable and downright twatty, but the fact remains: Brits have a fucking APPALLING reputation as holidaymakers and, from my limited experience, quite rightly so. It’s entirely understandable that our European cousins might make a bolt for the nearest fire exit when it looks like Brits are entering the building. At a bare minimum, the volume increases by around twenty decibels, entirely corresponding with the collective tattoo count.
Perhaps I’m being unfair here. After all, I live here and find dozens, if not hundreds of my fellow Brits to be intelligent, considerate humans who can sport tattoos, drink me under the table AND manage to be entirely delightful human beings. But the snob in me worries that the minute I have my first beautiful tattoo, I will have committed myself to a life where people think I’m going to skull ALL the all-inclusive vodka and vomit behind a sun bed, when clearly I’m hitting the cava from breakfast onwards and secretly want an ‘Ibiza All Stars’ t-shirt. Which I guess makes me absolutely no different, just sans regional accent and my daughter’s name tattooed in gothic script across my back. I guess trash comes in all shapes and sizes, right kids?
So the hunt for the perfect place to be inked continues. I’ll trawl Instagram, hunting for that single elusive person who clearly wants the high honour of tattooing a conflicted forty-something mum. Someone who, despite being prodigiously artistically gifted and skilled with the gun, won’t mind at all that less than a handful of people in the world will ever get to see their creation, residing, as it will, under my swimming costume. Safe from the eyes of those who might judge me.
Ahhhhh… who the fuck am I kidding? The second that needle hits my skin, I’ll be planning the next one. My inner Patsy Pervert entirely lacks self control. And me? I need to kick my level of fucks to give squarely into touch. Life’s too short, right?