Thinking aloud on a sunday beetleypete

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.

I have 6 tattoos. The biggest and most visible being the jukebox on my arm. I have intentions of getting more. To me they are like markers of particularly intense or important experiences or feelings in my life. I think tattoos vary massively in quality and taste, much like most things in life. I find them very attractive on men but only if they’re the right kind of tattoo. My dad took me to have my ears pierced when I was 4, without my mother’s permission and without me asking. Caused a bit of a hullabaloo. I am quite allergic to metal other than 18 carat gold and titanium so they got taken out when I was 6 and my mum got sick of dealing with the infections. I never bothered after that because I’d only be able to wear very basic studs. After that in my teens and early 20s I had my belly button, tongue and nose pierced over a period of years. I took my tongue ring out about 5 years ago. It just wasn’t me anymore. The belly button ring came out when I got to a stage of pregnancy that it was uncomfortable and I just never bothered to put it back in. I absolutely love my nose ring though and I can’t imagine ever removing it.

I don’t mind what body modifications people get, although when I was younger I felt criticial when people got tattoos that seemed foolish and not meaningful to me–like the guy in the tattoo chair who shouted past me to his girlfirend and said, “BEV, HOW DYA SPELL YER NAME?”, but I’m over that now. Tons of my tarot clients are alternative folks with many tattoos and piercings etc., but the one thing I don’t get is voluntary tongue piercing that gives people severe speech impediments. I have had waitresses and shop assistants who have been completely unintelligible, and at first I thought, oh poor person, maybe she’s hearing-impaired, but then I see the tongue piercing and I think HUH, if this wasn’t done within the last week or so and you’re afraid it’ll close up, I’d take the &%^$% thing out at work so that I can do my job. I have run into a lot of women actually–can’t recall any men except one in some silly movie–who just sound unable to speak, and every time I see the tongue piercing and think huh. I have not been close enough friends with anyone who had them and could not speak so that I could ask them. All the folks I know closely who have them can indeed speak well with them in. Maybe it’s some kind of size or placement or whatever, but that one puzzles me. In the old days it used to be considered as some coy supplement to oral delights, but hmmm–there are probably alternatives. Just my opinion–