Tattoos and tears. Tilf bears witness to modern body art and familial reactions.

I’m happy to say that I have had another tattoo done, this time a cover up, so I can legally rag on people with bad tattoos. Unfortunately, my family don’t feel this way, despite the fact I’m 28, and, I like to think, actually an alright kid. But apparently not. I’m actually evil.

I am not the golden child, I know this, and to top it off, now my sister is pregnant, she’s even better than before. Great. I love my sister, my family, the works, I really do, but there are times I wish they’d get their noses out of my skins business. I have 7 or 8 tattoos, depending how you count them, and one is a cover up, from my first ever one, which I had at 16, and had done by a heavy handed, shaved ape with no concept of good or gentle work.

My mum asks me to be honest with her, as I would expect from her and anyone else, I hate lies. For those not sure on my feelings, check back and read a previous blog, I believe it’s called ‘Secrets and lies’ and it will clearly reveal how I feel about lies and liars. So I’m honest with her about my tattoos, despite the fact that she cried at my leg piece, and almost made me resent it, I’m still honest with her. I was honest that I was having a cover up, and she declared that it didn’t count as a new one, because it was going over an old one. But she still cried at my leg.

This has a point, I promise.

My sister called me this morning, to ask what I was doing, probably because she wanted someone to drive her around the place. I told her I had plans, and she pushed until I told her what I was doing today. Her answer of “Oh, Tilf”. Except she used my actual name, because gods forbid anyone declares themselves apart from the state, and a label placed on them by people who haven’t known them long enough to know if their name will fit.

It wasn’t what she said, but how it was said. She probably couldn’t get any more disappointment in her voice if I’d said “Well, this morning I’m going to break into a primary school, then I’m going to gun down every child I see and spend some time taking a shit on each body. Then I’m going to finish my day off by shooting up a metric fuck-ton of heroin while selling pictures of said children to paedophiles.”

I choose my tattoos carefully. I apply thoughts and logic, and opt for pieces and places that have at least a years mental work behind them.

I have a small fish on the inside of my little finger, making it a fish finger, and amusing me everytime I see it.
I have a black and white swallow on my inner left wrist, in memory of something important that has nothing to do with anyone who hasn’t known me at least 10 years.
I have a small tiger paw on my right thigh/butt cheek, because I love tigers, I adore them, and I truly will give up on humanity entirely when they’re extinct.
I have three small letters on the arch of my left foot, for another moment of amusement, everytime I see it. It’s I.N.C, for the invisible ninja club, which I may explain later, maybe.
I have the symbol of the summoning dark from Thud written by Sir Terry Pratchett on my inner right arm, as I love his books, and will cry when he dies. If you haven’t read them, I suggest you do, they’ll change your life.
I have Spider Jerusalem and his cat, hence the possible one more tattoo, on the whole right side of my right lower leg. And finally I now have a wolf paw on my right shoulder, that covers a truly shoddy eye of Ra, that will be re-done, at some later date. Again, I love ancient Egypt, I love wolves, so I have covered an insult to Egypt and it’s historical strides into world heritage with a beautiful black and grey wolf paw.

So, as you can see, I haven’t just jabbed my well painted fingernail at a picture in a studio and demanded the artist slapped it somewhere they like tattooing. And I haven’t had anything offensive, I haven’t had ‘cunt’ written on my forehead or something. Nor would I, yet for some reason my family feel I may suddenly choose to do this.

My tattoos have been expensive, and will continue to be so, they also have the potential to kill me. It’s very likely I have inherited my fathers disease, which reacts to scar tissue, tattoos and some other things. It grows lumps and legions on the lungs, heart, bones and all other major organs. It’s a fairly grim prognosis, but not a positive diagnosis, and I’m not sure I really want it to be. But all the while I live in my body, which, by the way, will be the only thing I ever truly own, that I can’t have legally taken from me, I will decorate it as I choose. All the while the chances of providing a grandchild for my parents are dropping to an eventual zero, I will live my life as I choose, as long as it doesn’t hurt others.

Tattoos have been around for centuries, our ancesters, wherever you’re from, had them, for reasons ranging from where they stood in a tribe to how many kills they’d had, from their marital status to their wealth, from magic protection to power containment. They suffered a small death, and were then revived by sailors the world over, steadily building to a massive following with people from all walks of life. Tattoos used to be a rebellion tool, something someone would get to upset their parents, revived to the stage that they are not taboo anymore, despite what the media will have you believe. No one sees body-art as a rebellion anymore, it’s always been a means of identifying yourself and others, and for others to identify you, either as police or you as a corpse. And it will continue to be so, for centuries to come. Tattoos have changed, from application to style, from black and white to colour, from ground rock and cuts through to sewing thread made of seal gut and charcoal right through to electric machines. Yet old-school ‘Thai style’, done with a sharp piece of bamboo and ink is making a comeback, giving us cutting edge design and geometric patterns with ancient historical style. Showing that while most things go full circle, the acceptance of tattoos will have no choice but to continue. Even facial tattoos are becoming old hat, worn by bored muppets who don’t realise they’re insulting the cultural heritage of a people guaranteed to be many times their size.

I’m aware MY choices about MY body may be hurting my parents emotionally, but I’ve explained as much to them, it’s my body. My godfather served with my father, and has taken the place of my deceased grandfather, of my corner-fighter. Standing against my family to remind them I’m not a carbon copy of them, I’m me. I work, I’m not a drug addict, I’ve never been arrested (touch wood) and I’m not a total loser drop-out and that they should appreciate that I live well and help often.

I know I’ll never be their happy little bunny spare part carrier for my sister, just the disappointment spare part carrier for my sister. If any of you are parents, or ever become parents, remember, your child is not you. They’ll never be you, and after a few years, you have to beg them to spend time with you, make sure they want to call you, make sure they don’t regret being your child.

And for gods’ sake, don’t make them feel like pointless shit, the world will do that enough, you’re there to remind them they are worth the oxygen they breath.


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