Skin Deep 215

So I was watching one of my favourite American cop show dramas a few nights ago (hey, we all have our vices), and one of the cops asks the pathologist – who they seem to keep in a room slightly to the side of where everybody does regular work (it would never have happened when Starsky and Hutch ruled the streets) – for the results on one of the three bodies the path-dude has got lying on the slab. The doc asks, “which one is that?” The cop shrugs and says, “the one with the tattoo”, to which the doc replies, “that’s not very helpful… everybody’s got a tattoo these days!”

I thought it was pretty funny that this is what people in the outside world think, because try as I might to verify that statement, and I don’t think it’s actually true. When they do those surveys that ask how many people in the UK have a tattoo, even I find myself quoting something that I heard somewhere at some point in time. Current stats have it pegged at one in 12 people being tattooed, but nobody has really done a reliable survey to find out, so I’ve come to learn that these statistics are totally fabricated, probably to give people jobs who have done ‘statistics’ at university.

I think that when they do the street surveys on tattoos (as they must) – and we’ve all been approached by those people who get paid 8p an hour to work for the company that charges a crisp company £50 gazillion to find out which crisps are the curliest when they’d be better off selling lucky heather to cats – that they only stop people they can see actually see have tattoos. Nobody wants to go back to the office and say “nope, I didn’t see any tattoos”, because honestly, you won’t have a job tomorrow if you hand nuggets like that over.

Yes an awful lot of people have tattoos, but when I went out for a meal with my extended family last week, there were 18 of us and only one had tattoos – that was me by the way. Take any given day at the swimming pool, and a snapshot of that will show you that there really are a lot of people with ink, but there’s no way it’s one in 12.

Furthermore, we could get picky about it. Like if we asked “how many of you have a car?” Can we really count the people who have a Reliant Robin? That’s not a car. How about a Rolls Royce? That’s not a car either, it’s a status symbol. So that in mind, does the ‘little devil wearing a nappy’ tattoo or the ‘Winnie the Pooh with the honey pot’ tattoo really count as a tattoo? Serious question. Did you get a tattoo or did you get a fashion statement? Can you put the devil in the nappy tattoo up against a backpiece that was done as part of a lifelong yearning to hit Japan and find a master that cost you the best part of your annual salary? I don’t think so, but both of those people would quite honestly be able to tell that shameless street observer, “yes, I have a tattoo”.
We can be quite scornful of those little pieces, but they are all part of what got us to where we are today. No tattooist turned those people away and you can still find them on flash racks even now if you want them… and people do. In fact to some tattooists, this is the bread and butter stuff that keeps their doors open every day of the week.

I don’t have a point this week (do I ever?), but it’s enough to accept that even the small things have their part to play in the genesis of something much bigger. We shouldn’t diss it, so long as it’s done as well as it possibly can be.

Anyway, back to my cop show…


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