Thinking Aloud on A Sunday

Tattoos and piercings.

I had a dream last night that I was getting a tattoo, so woke up thinking about body adornment today.

When I was young, many if not most of the older men had a tattoo, or several. Of course, almost all of them had served in WW2, or as regulars in the Army or Navy, so tattoos seemed to be very much the done thing for serviceman, if not for the officers that led them. My Dad had some, though they had been on his body since the 1930s, and were faded. My uncles and older cousins all had one or more too, so I was used to seeing them.

When I joined the Ambulance Service in 1979, I soon started to see people of both sexes in states of undress, often naked. I noticed that many not only had tattoos, but body piercings in very intimate (and seemingly painful) places too. Although I was approaching 30 by that time, I also saw my first lady with a tattoo. She was in her 80s, so that was also faded, and it came as something as a shock to me to realise that she probably had that done in the 1920s.

Within a few years, tattoos had become all the rage. Film stars, sporting heroes, models, and even some nurses and doctors I knew had them. I had never even considered having one. Not only did it look painful, I had no intention of marking my skin with something that would remain on it forever, or leave a disfiguring scar if I had it surgically removed. I just didn’t see the point of them. Around the same time, I started to be aware of the popularity of nose piercings, lip and tongue piercings, eyebrow piercings, and ears with multiple piercings, displaying rows of earrings. Many men were wearing earrings by then, and it was soon acceptable for men to turn up to work or football games wearing studs or diamonds in their ears. Times were changing, no doubt of that.

By the time I went to live in Camden in the year 2000, it seemed as if everyone I saw there was either displaying many facial piercings, or numerous visible tattoos. In many cases, both at the same time. Some men and women sported huge discs in their ears that had stretched the earlobes, and some had tattoos actually on their faces and heads, as well as all over the rest of their bodies. I was beginning to believe that I was the only person in that large district of London who had neither piercing, nor tattoo. Fashion had once again moved on, leaving me behind.

It’s not a big deal of course. In 2018, it is run of the mill, and nobody says anything about such body adornments any more. People can walk around with mini-masterpieces on their bodies, covered in piercings so numerous they disguise their appearance. But it’s their life, and their bodies, so none of my business. I get that, and accept it happily.

So I wonder why I was dreaming about having a tattoo on my arm, and chatting to the tattooist?
Let me know about your tattoos and piercings in the comments.
If you want to.

88 thoughts on “Thinking Aloud on A Sunday

  1. I have 6 tattoos. The biggest and most visible being the jukebox on my arm. I have intentions of getting more. To me they are like markers of particularly intense or important experiences or feelings in my life. I think tattoos vary massively in quality and taste, much like most things in life. I find them very attractive on men but only if they’re the right kind of tattoo. My dad took me to have my ears pierced when I was 4, without my mother’s permission and without me asking. Caused a bit of a hullabaloo. I am quite allergic to metal other than 18 carat gold and titanium so they got taken out when I was 6 and my mum got sick of dealing with the infections. I never bothered after that because I’d only be able to wear very basic studs. After that in my teens and early 20s I had my belly button, tongue and nose pierced over a period of years. I took my tongue ring out about 5 years ago. It just wasn’t me anymore. The belly button ring came out when I got to a stage of pregnancy that it was uncomfortable and I just never bothered to put it back in. I absolutely love my nose ring though and I can’t imagine ever removing it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Abbi. Naturally, i have noticed many of your tattoos and the nose piercing from your photos. As I don’t know you any other way, I just think of them as ‘you’. 🙂
      Best wishes, Pete.

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    1. I knew you had quite a few of course, as I can see some in your photos. Thanks for letting us know about all the rest. They are very much a part of you as a person, and give you some of your unique personality. I cannot imagine you without them. 🙂 xx

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  2. No tattoos or piercings for me Pete, not even my ears. My lovely 26 year old daughter, recently had a very tasteful piece tattooed on the inside of her forearm. It’s lovely, like she is. My 20 year old daughter, however, wants a blue circle in honor of The Germs tattooed on her upper bicep. Not so thrilled about that, but, hey, she’s a wonderful young lady, an artist–never gave me a spot of trouble. To each her own.

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  3. I’ve never had a tattoo not any wish to have one, but I have both ears pierced (it was done while I was a baby and all baby girls seemed to have them done at the time) and wear earrings, although I can only tolerate gold (as my mother says, I was born to be a princess but in the wrong family). When I was a child only sailors, people who were in the military, or people who had been in prison seemed to have tattoos. I admire the artistry of some, and when I met Scary Guy in Hay-on-Wye, a few years back, it got me thinking about it. Different people do it for different things (I remember a patient, a young guy, who came to my clinic and I noticed a rather large tattoo on his shoulder. When I asked him, he told me that a few years back he had thought about jumping off a pier and killing himself, but then decided to have a tattoo done instead. Well, I thought that was the right decision). Have a great week, Pete.

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  4. Wow Pete, what a conversation you started. For some reason beyond me, everyone thought I would get a tattoo after my divorce. I just didn’t want something I couldn’t change frequently.
    I think your dream is the more interesting thing.
    Maybe you were just needing to make a statement about yourself — which you did with this post.
    Hugs!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Teagan. These ‘Thinking Aloud’ posts generally get a great response. I am able to feature very varied subjects that people often have strong opinions about because I am not really making a for or against statement, just ‘thinking aloud’…
      Best wishes as always, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. When my daughter was 16 she wanted to be tattooed – I did not allow it! Now, 13 years later, she still has none. But she still has the thought of that!
    I never dared to, thought at that time, that when I am old, I am one of the few women who have no tatoo! I do not regret that I was a coward! 🙂
    However, I have holes for earrings (1×1 and 1×3).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for your thoughts, Irene. Lots of parents refuse permission for tattoos, understandably. Now she is 29, perhaps your daughter no longer feels that same need for self-expression she had as a teenager.
      Best wishes, Pete.

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  6. I have pierced ears which my daughter got for me for my 40th birthday. I would never pierce anything else. Nor would I trust a tattoo I liked now would still please me later. When I taught artists, I got used to dreadful things in faces–lines of safety pins, bolts, nails. It was distracting.

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  7. Great post 🙂 I have never had a tattoo so I cannot really comment. Nevertheless, I keep thinking of the film Eastern Promises when the topic comes up and for anybody who has seen the film, they will probably understand the reference. Anyway, keep up the great work as always 🙂

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  8. I don’t mind what body modifications people get, although when I was younger I felt criticial when people got tattoos that seemed foolish and not meaningful to me–like the guy in the tattoo chair who shouted past me to his girlfirend and said, “BEV, HOW DYA SPELL YER NAME?”, but I’m over that now. Tons of my tarot clients are alternative folks with many tattoos and piercings etc., but the one thing I don’t get is voluntary tongue piercing that gives people severe speech impediments. I have had waitresses and shop assistants who have been completely unintelligible, and at first I thought, oh poor person, maybe she’s hearing-impaired, but then I see the tongue piercing and I think HUH, if this wasn’t done within the last week or so and you’re afraid it’ll close up, I’d take the &%^$% thing out at work so that I can do my job. I have run into a lot of women actually–can’t recall any men except one in some silly movie–who just sound unable to speak, and every time I see the tongue piercing and think huh. I have not been close enough friends with anyone who had them and could not speak so that I could ask them. All the folks I know closely who have them can indeed speak well with them in. Maybe it’s some kind of size or placement or whatever, but that one puzzles me. In the old days it used to be considered as some coy supplement to oral delights, but hmmm–there are probably alternatives. Just my opinion–

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    1. My step-daughter has a pierced tongue, but it is so discreet, I didn’t even notice it for a couple of years! I just can’t imagine having something clicking around in my mouth, or hitting my teeth though. She assures me that she no longer notices it.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I had one ear pierced decades ago, and it felt and sounded like being shot through the earlobe, so I didn’t get the other one done and have had no more. For the last couple of years I have worn a small black star in it, in memory of Bowie.

    I have had tattoos though, ONLY ones that had actual real meaning to me. The first was done in the UK and the tattooist man wore a shirt that said OF COURSE IT HURTS. I find that it usually doesn’t really hurt me, for whatever reason, perhaps because at first it feels strange like pressure plus creepy crawlies and then the endorphines or other numbing feelings kick in so it’s more like pressure plus other odd feelings, not at all like, say, getting a papercut or scratched by the cat or getting a little nick with broken glass or something. All the pain happens later for me, but less pain or scabbing than a good scraped knee ever gave me.

    Perhaps the dream had something to do with body changes or permanent lifestyle choices, or something similar–maybe a meaningful learning that you wanted to remember, or maybe unavoidable aging that happens, or maybe the desire to present yourself differently in the world or in yourself. Whatever it might be, enjoy!

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  10. Never saw the point and I’m not keen on pain, but I have seen some great work done on friends, even if it seems to me to be a fashion statement.
    The only piercings I have done are on the goats when I put the ear tags in, thats enough to put me off for life 🙂 Mind I had a girlfriend in the past who admitted that she did her tongue with a friend which still makes me feel queasy just thinking about it. And I remember stories about ear piercings done with hot needles dipped in vodka from both of my sisters!

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  11. Given the variety of hairstyles and color, and dress and undress, I had thought piercings and tattoos were ways for the one pierced or tattooed to declare, “See, I am different yet, I belong.” I have stuck with hair and clothing to make my understatement. 🙂
    Warmest regards, Theo

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  12. Most of the time, a tattoo is a turnoff for me. I’ve seen photos of otherwise beautiful women whose tattoos just ruined the attraction. A tiny rose on the shoulder, as described by FR, is fine, and, I have to admit to being impressed by some extravagant artwork I’ve seen. But I also think a person must eventually grow weary of seeing the same old tattoo—even a masterpiece—after a while. And then, of course, it fades with age…

    Except for the classic single earring worn by women that requires one piercing per ear, I cringe at body adornments that require piercings. In some cases, I see them as ridiculous (e.g., pierced tongues, pierced nipples) or as a potential nuisance (e.g., cleaning a nose ring after blowing one’s nose or sneezing—it does get cleaned, right?).

    As for whether I have any tattoos or piercings, I’ll let you guess the answer.

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  13. Pete, here in Hollywood they are prevalent – and also the new trend of the ear lobes being pierced, then a round disc put in, then a larger one, soon the size of a quarter or even half dollar…that one I don’t understand and find it rather off-putting

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  14. Pete, I think it was something I read by Charles Dickens, in his journals not his novels, which explained the reason behind sailors, marines and soldiers of his time getting tattooed. Decorative, of course, but it also made their body identifiable if they were killed abroad. Their loved ones at home would know it was them when told of their death.
    Also, somewhere else, I read that the fashion for privateers and pirates’ gold earrings was to pay for a decent burial if they died in foreign lands. They didn’t actually like the idea of eternity in Davy Jones’ Locker – the ritual of sea burial came later.
    No tattoos on me and I don’t even go in for ordinary jewellery so no piercings either.

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  15. I don’t have any (funny considering how many tattooed and pierced models I have photographed!) and while I would like one…I will have to wait until my wife departs (death or divorce) as she hates them!

    You know I have a fondness for skin art of all types. I too have seen everything – on a man and woman – that is possible to be pierced.

    Unfortunately a lot of my friends, women in the main, still get verbal abuse and discrimination over being heavily tattooed or pierced. So it’s not that accepted I’m afraid.

    As to your dream…go on Pete…you know you want to!! 😂😂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I am aware of your fondness for tattood models of course, but had no idea they got abuse for that body art. |They should move to Camden, where they will just look like everyone else. 🙂
      Best wishes, Pete.

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  16. Hahaha only piercing in the ears Pete. And tattoos became all the rage much later than in UK on “The Continent” 😉 Now my kids want a tattoo but we are trying to slow them down as not every employer love seeing tattoos yet.

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    1. When I worked for the Met Police in London, only tattoos which were ‘not visible above the uniform’ were allowed. I agree that many employers haven’t caught up with the fashion trend, and some perhaps never will.
      Best wishes, Pete.

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  17. I was in my late twenties before I plucked up the courage to have my ears pierced – just once in each earlobe. I don’t have any tattoos though my sister has several and my son is contemplating it. It’s interesting how public attitudes have changed towards tattoos. At one time it was considered very much an indicator of someone from the lower classes (or the armed forces). I was reading a book about the Titanic recently and when deciding if an unidentified body should be allowed a coffin and be brought to shore for burial or buried at sea the presence of tattoos was taken as an indicator the person was working class and the body was buried at sea. No one (weel surely very few) would think along those lines nowadays.

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  18. While I have no objection to people having tattoos or piercings (and some of them truly are amazing works of art) I have never had the urge/desire to go get one myself. I guess that fashion has left me behind as well…but then again I think fashion has never been there for me anyway lol 😂😂

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  19. For my 30th birthday I got a little red rose 🌹 tattooed on my shoulder blade. It’s quite faded now of course, don’t regret it and it was done by a chap who’d just won world tattooing championships of some description so it is a lovely piece of work. But 1 was enough.

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