Wednesday 24 October 2012


Before I get to 'Who chickened out for 12 years' I just wanted to share this doodle.  I had to telephone the electricity company this morning to check on the current best tariff for us, and this was my 'Your call is  important to us but all our agents are busy ....' doodle while I waited.

Just looking at it now I realise I doodled the title of this post in advance.

So, now to get down to the actual post.  It's a fairly long one, so be prepared if you decide to stay with me - but there are plenty of pictures to help along the way.  

One artform I am fascinated with is tattooing, particularly the ones people have designed themselves.  Dev has become resigned to me starting up conversations with anyone I'm standing or sitting close to who has an interesting tattoo.

This feather turning into birds belonged to Freya, a young lady I met at the Henri Matisse exhibition in March and it was designed by her boyfriend.  I love this.

I was sitting in the doctor's waiting room a week or two ago opposite a young man with a tattoo, various rings and studs - and his little daughter, and I was fascinated with what I could see of his tattoo.  So I asked to see it more closely, and then asked permission to photograph it.

He told me he had drawn and painted the design himself, but when I asked if he had done an art degree he said 'Oh no, my Nan showed me how to draw'.  Oh, if only I'd had a Nan like that.

Twelve years ago, after many years of saying I wanted a tattoo, Dev gave in and withdrew his objections, and said 'Go on then, get one for your birthday'.

When my younger daughter Zoë heard about it she decided that we would both go together because she had wanted a tattoo for a long time.

I drew up the design I wanted, but although the tattoo artist I chose was very good, he didn't do 'own designs'.  So I quickly had to choose a stock image, and liked this bird of peace with a olive branch in its beak.

It is tattoo-ed (? is that the spelling?) on my left arm near the shoulder.  If Dev and I have a little tiff I roll up my sleeve and say 'Go on, kiss it, peace between us'.  Always makes us laugh.

BUT GUESS WHO CHICKENED OUT of the agreement to go together!  Well it wasn't me.

At my mum's funeral lunch with all our family around, the talk somehow got round to tattoos, so I stood up and showed mine to a horrified audience - appalled mainly because I was 65.  My niece, then in her twenties, suddenly stood up, hoisted up her shirt and turned round to show a gorgeous tattoo in the small of her back.  Her mother screamed in horror 'You've got a TATTOOOOO!!!!!!!' and everyone fell about laughing.

Mum would have had such a good time if she could have been there.

So, back to chickening out.  A few weeks ago Zoë told me she had decided to get her tattoo at last - the only reason apparently that she had waited was because she hadn't decided what design to have.  Some decisions take a very long time to make.  (She chickened out!)

She designed it herself - it's very simple but the concept behind it is a little complicated.  The shot above shows the tattoo as an E for Ellie, her daughter.

And this way it is an old-fashioned Z for Zoë.  And as well as being a Z, this way also represents a 3 for the three of them including Rob, her husband.

And from this angle it is an 'open heart for all the love to come'.  I really like it and the sentiment behind it.

Her reason for getting it now was because she decided to do 50 things for 50, having reached the half-century this year.  So far the things she has done have included being a zoo-keeper for a day (and shovelling elephant dung), going to New York, getting a present from Tiffany's, going to New Zealand, taking a course in Stand-Up and doing a stand-up comedy routine in front of an audience a few times, taking singing lessons, and moving from a house to an apartment.

And to finish, just a story about my dad's tattoo.  He was a regular in the Royal Navy.  Before he met and married my mum he must have had another girlfriend, because he had a sort of ribbon tattoo.  It would hardly have been a good start to the marriage to have 'Esther' tattooed in large letters on his fore-arm, so he had it altered so that it read 'Mother' and it ended up looking like neither name. 

And I've never for a moment regretted having my tattoo.


  1. Oh Jez I love this post. My Craig isn't a fan either which is the main reason I so far haven't got one but I'm not sure what I would get. I did at one point want Alice Cooper's face on my arm but have seen so many dodgy face portraits on people locally that I'm glad I didn't (I still adore Alice though!)

    Love the story about your Mum's funeral (though it feels weird typing that!) and I love both you and your daughters tattoo's. Especially the way you say 'kiss it' when you've had a row! Haha!

    Brilliant post! Thanks for this :D Maybe one day I'll find my special tattoo.

  2. :) this post made me smile

    and I'm sure you made the young man's day in the docs' asking to photograph his tattoo (in fact talking to him at all rather than treating him like a pariah :) )

    I'm a lot more toned down now than I used to be, my hair's back to a normal colour and cut and I no longer have any visible piercings, but I can remember how lovely it used to be on the rare occasion someone would make a positive rather than negative comment on my appearance back in my punkier days

    Tattoos are a wonderful artform, I adore all of mine, and I am glad that your niece finally joined the club after thinking about it for so long :) She has clearly put a lot of thought into her very clever design too.

  3. wonderful stories. I love that you have a tattoo, and the way it ends your arguments.

  4. Interesting stuff Jezebel. And "ouch" is right!!

  5. It didn't hurt a bit! Well, it just felt like a wasp on my arm, but no more than a teeny sting like that. So, now what am I adding to this one? Can't make up my mind but I promise not to leave it another 12 years, Jez! Hehe


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