I’m not a tattoo person. I managed to clock up more than half a century without having one.
But at a British Sea Power gig at Sheffield earlier this year, arms aloft, enraptured by the life-affirming chorus of the brilliant Bad Bohemian, a song from the album Let The Dancers Inherit The Party, I decided that I wanted to make some sort of permanent dedication – a commitment – to the idea of the song, to the band, and to the moment.
At another BSP gig in Nottingham this month I had the same experience and that cemented my intention. So I made the following image, derived from the official video of the song.
From this, on Monday this week, a tattoo artist made an outline transfer which she applied to my upper left arm at her premises in Ashby.
Then when I gave her the nod, she made it permanent with a scary motorised needle device and black ink. It extends down my upper arm from near the shoulder, down toward the elbow. It’s 120mm in length.
It took about 40 minutes. It was bloody painful. Not agonising, but definitely an ordeal. I started to feel dizzy and sick after the first 10 minutes or so. She told me this was an adrenalin reaction, and normal. I recovered after a couple of minutes and was OK after that, but I was extremely glad when she told me she was finished.
All a bit grim at first with redness and soreness and traces of blood smeared under clingfilm, but I have taken great care of it with simple soap, moisturiser and Savlon as recommended by the artist, and it looks rather good now. The skin where the letters are indelibly printed has started to go a bit dry, itchy and flaky – all normal of course – but it’s no longer sore. It’ll take another week or two before it’s healed and settled in.
I must say she did an excellent job – very accurate and very neatly executed.
It’s pretty discreet. Under a t-shirt, you either can’t see it at all, or only the last couple of characters are visible – depending on sleeve length, of course.
Even so I must admit I did go through a WHAT HAVE I DONE TO MYSELF phase for a few hours on Tuesday. But that has passed; a mere period of adjustment. For sure, there’s a certain dichotomy with my urbane, middle-class professional self-image. But that only enhances the appeal. I’m very pleased with it.
And anyway, in the words of the song which inspired my, er, body art – what’s done, is done – and there’ll be no redemption.
Oh, Don’t let us die
While we are still alive!