They call tattooing art!

My regular readers will recall that I often dive into my memory bank and even dine out on the tale of my being naked in the gym changing room when a young man, equally naked, accosted me.  After reeling back and before adopting a krav maga defence position, because I don’t swing that way, I noticed that he was covered in Gothic style tattoos.  He pointed to my single tattoo that I sport on my right arm and said “Nice ink matey”. 

Once I realised that he had no designs on my body – do you get that? Designs – tattoos.  I became friendly and although he really was only asking me to admire his own tattoo portfolio and commenced to tell him that I had mine done many years ago in South Africa by a native Zulu who had been wearing an ostrich plume headdress and full tribal dress also that he had carried out the procedure using a sharp piece of bamboo which he rapped with a wooden mallet.  My new friend said “Cor! Were you in the Boer War?”  I turned and strode towards the showers, cheeky sod, calling me matey when he hardly knew me.  End of memory – Well not quite I can remember that it bloody well hurt and it was like being stabbed in slow motion, hundreds of times.

Having admitted to having a tattoo, which is of a Springbok posed in front of the old Union of South Africa flag with a scroll that used to say simply South Africa but is now a dark blue smear as time has taken its toll.  I still subscribe to the rather snooty position that unless the tattoo wearer is ex military especially Navy or Army where tattoos have been the custom since Nelson was a lad, tattooing is still very “Club Chav.  It’s still the preserve of Pole Dancers and people with England flags fluttering from their car aerials.  I was seventeen when I acquired my tattoo, I was a sailor and I had partaken of a few glasses of tikki hock.

Nowadays the law in the UK states that you can’t get a tattoo unless you are drunk that’s why 18 is the minimum age!  I must also admit another snooty prejudice from when I was an employer.  I interviewed a lad who was computer literate and eminently qualified for the job, he bemoaned the fact that he had been applying for jobs for months and couldn’t understand why he kept being turned down.  The fact that he couldn’t see the reason why was enough for me to also turn him down.  He had a spider’s web tattooed on his face and neck.  I didn’t enlighten him and wonder if he ever got a job that didn’t involve emptying rubbish bins or mobile toilets.

Tattoo art is invariably awful.  David Beckham looks more like an Iron Maiden album cover and as for Cheryl Cole/Fernandez-Versini/Tweedy apart from the cost of what she calls her rose tattoo, the pain must have been incredible.  All I can think when I see a picture of it is “Does my arse look big in this tattoo?”  Whatever you call it, it certainly isn’t art in the same manner of the great artists like Leonardo da Vinci, Van Gogh, and Monet.  We know that they would apply their skill and dexterity to just about any surface; walls, ceiling, canvas, paper and often did but not the human body.  Mind you I wouldn’t put it past Tracy Emin but that still wouldn’t be art.

Look at the stereo-typical tattooist, eighteen stone of Hell’s Angel with most of B & Qs stockroom stuck through his ears and nose.  Proper artists spend ages considering their approach to a work, photographing it, looking at views through squared fingers and discussing it.  The Hell’s Angel will give a five minute consultation before producing a very painful, expensive doodle.  I suppose the advantage of having such graffiti on one’s back is the fact that you can’t see it and it is only seen by very good friends.  I have heard of a friend’s wife who had an intense love for her Ferrari that she had a prancing horse tattooed just above her G-string.  Now whenever she bends over people ask her why someone has drawn a donkey on her back.  As usual its rubbish and she is stuck with it for life, as am I with the Springbok on my arm but at least I can relate the tale of the Zulu warrior with his sharpened bamboo stick.

I zigga zumba zumba zumba, I zigga zumba zumba zai 
I zigga zumba zumba zumba, I zigga zumba zumba zai

Hold him down you Zulu warrior 
Hold him down you Zulu chief 
Hold him down you Zulu warrior 
Hold him down you Zulu chief, chief, chief, chief

That’s the South African Boy Scout’s version which made my spell checker go wild.  I also made a promise that I wouldn’t ever sing again’ and as I only know the tune for the Rugby song version which is far to rude for here, that’s all you are getting.





About Jake

Long retired travel writer, author and freelance journalist. Educated at Wolverton Grammar and Greenwich Naval College. Happily married since 1958, with a married son and daughter, a married granddaughter and an adult grandson. Hobbies rock-climbing, dinghy racing and ocean racing. Still regularly working out in the gym.
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