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.