Paul Sweeney - 223: "Tatts the Way, Uh hu uh hu, I Like it, Uh hu uh hu!"

Published: 26 March, 2013 - Featured in Skin Deep 223, April, 2013

I couldn’t help myself! I think you immediately know when a day is going to be the best day since records began and equally when it is not.

The day I have in mind began with me still moderately delirious and partially sighted from having just arisen from my slumber, clumsily thrusting my hand into my wash bag, unbeknownst to me, mistakenly clutching at a tube of Bepanthen, intending of course to grasp instead, my faithful tube of toothpaste.

Even as I squeezed the contents across the bristles of my toothbrush, such was my delirium, I failed to notice the error of my clearly sleep deprived ways.

Toothbrush in hand; Bepanthen upon bristles; hand, toothbrush, bristles and Bepanthen ebbing ever closer to mouth. My mouth primed in fragrant anticipation of that familiar minty satisfaction - “Gah! Bleugh, bleugh, bleuuugh! Whaa dah fluh???” A violently unpleasant attack to most of the senses, I felt abused, betrayed and vulnerable. But most importantly I felt educated; never under any circumstance keep your Bepanthen, or any other similarly toothpaste tube shaped creams, in the same receptacle as your actual toothpaste.

Having resolved the issues regarding my morning ablutions, I engaged in a brief moment of internet browsing, allowing time for the mild trauma to subside, before facing the far more familiar traumatic experience of journeying from Essex into London. Alas my attempts to remain inconspicuous were thwarted by my overtly conspicuous appearance (damn me and the way I look!) I was accosted by an elderly lady; “Such a smart young man, such a shame you’ve ruined it by letting someone draw all over you” - “I’m sorry?” I replied, “Oh you are a silly boy” - “And why’s that?” - “Thugs and criminals, that’s who tattoo are for”
It’s quite a statement, I’ll give her that, an incorrect one, but a statement none the less. Fortunately for me, my morning of internet browsing had led me to researching a man named Francois Souwan, a Levantine tattoo artist from the 19th century, famed for tattooing none other than King Edward VII. In 1862, at the age of 18, Edward (then Prince of Wales) visited Jerusalem and returned with a tattoo that incorporated the cross of Jerusalem, on his upper forearm. I used this case in my defence against the naive elderly lady, stating that Edward wasn’t the only member of the Royal family to have been tattooed; it’s well documented that George V also rocked a dragon on his arm, by a local Japanese artist.

To which she replied “That just goes to show you stupidity is not defined by class”


Text: Paul Sweeney