Smallman Syndrome - 199

Published: 31 May, 2011 - Featured in Skin Deep 199, May, 2011

One man’s tragic obsession with the sillier side of tattooing...

Last month I mentioned my new stomach tattoo and how ridiculously painful it was.  It did lead to much debate via email concerning how mind-bendingly painful it can be to have such a tender area tattooed.  I was quite relieved to find that not one person emailed me to call me a massive wuss (although now I’ve said that I’ll probably get a deluge of messages saying that I’m the biggest wimp since time began).

I did get a few emails telling me that there are even more painful places to get inked though.  Tim Philpott got in touch to tell me that he tattooed his own shin – yes, his OWN – and after outlining a design is now summoning up the courage to finish it off.  

Paul Nicholas is my daft hero of the month though.  You can see a picture of his awesome stomach tattoo in this very column – and why did he decide to have two massively painful four hour sessions on his belly?  Because at a random gig one night he decided that he really, really loved Motorhead.  This is a man after my own heart – for musical reasons and for reasons of silly tattoos.  I salute you, sir.

I’m writing this a few days before my birthday and I want your opinion on something I’ve been debating with friends.  Do tattoos hurt more as you get older?

I’m nearly 33 and I was under the mistaken impression that getting more ink would just be easier each time.  Now, it might just be that I’m running out of non-painful places – but I think there may be some truth to this.  Does this mean that I’ve got to hurry up and get all the tattoos that I want before I’m too old?  I’m really going to have to put the time in now to get myself finished off if it’s going to be more agony each time.

My mum got a tattoo when she was 50 – her only one – and keeps telling me that it was unspeakably painful.  My dad – as regular readers of this column will be aware – has a bet with me that may lead to him getting his first ever tattoo at the age of at least 58.  He’s got a weak pain threshold at the best of times, so the poor bloke could be in a world of hurt if this whole age thing is true.

Could someone confirm this for me?  Maybe you’re reading this and planning on getting your first tattoo at the age of 18 or so.  If you’ve got a nice, friendly grandparent without any ink maybe you could take them along with you to get a matching design to end my curiosity?  I’d find that really helpful.  And let’s be honest, you’ll have the most awesome granny ever.

If you’ve got any opinions on the pain vs age debate then do get in touch through the usual means below.  And don’t forget I always want to hear your stories about your tattoos and even better get pictures from you of the silly ink you might have got.  Get sending me things now!


Text: Jim Smallman