††††††††††† Having a tattoo never used to appeal to me. Now they do, but I still donít want one.

As a child, I always thought they looked slightly tacky and seedy. Mostly, I only ever saw men wearing them, as proof and pride in serving the armed forces, or occasionally as evidence of having been in prison.Shipís anchors, tigers, dragons, and pictures of sexy women were common motifs, along with the names of favourite women, imaginary or real.

All I ever remember is thinking that the more elaborate the design, the more having it made must have hurt like hell. I also seem to recall that many men with tattoos really regretted having them and wished to get them removed. It is in fact only in more recent years that laser removal techniques have advanced, but even that is far from perfect. For me, a tattoo was equivalent to scorching yourself with a branding iron.

In the concentration camps, Jews, Gypsies, Homosexuals, and other victims of Nazi oppression were branded and tattooed with numbers on entry to the camps. Of the few who survived, many kept their numbers as symbols of remembrance and to shame the World into never letting such a tragedy occur again. That kind of a tattoo I could always respect, but on the whole, most voluntary tattoos always strike me as being a big mistake.

At college, I met a young lady who had the names of her various boyfriends emblazoned on her arm. As each new boyfriend took his place, the other names had been scored out. I was quite appalled. It wasnít that she wanted this state of affairs.She had added her first loverís name with the hope that he would be bound to her forever like a blood brother.He dumped her soon afterwards. The next boy she went out with insisted that his name be added as a replacement as a symbol of her loyalty. Other would-be-men followed suit. It got so that lads would want to add their names to her arm list to prove to her later seducers that they had beaten them to it. The poor girl was a walking register of this kind of abuse. I never did make love to her, though had I done so, I would never have added my name in such a way.

For me personally, a tattoo just seemed like an invitation to pain. I never liked medical injections. On some occasions I had to be held down to receive the needle from doctors. I was hardly going to subject myself voluntarily to red-hot needles under my skin.

I remember reading Ray Bradburyís short story collection, The Illustrated Man, in which a man meets a ghoulish figure completely covered in tattoos. Each tattoo comes to life as the man watches and tells a story. The last story is a vision of the man being murdered by the tattoo emblazoned figure. The man runs away in terror.

Tattooing has existed since prehistoric times (See the Wikepedia article at recent years, the tattooing art has improved dramatically with improvements in the instruments for creating them, and better inks and colours to apply.A modern tattoo can look truly stunning and quite sexy on the right individual. I have seen many women who look absolutely amazing with discreet or even with extensive tattoos on their bodies. My revulsion for the craft of tattooing seems to have vanished overnight. Exactly when it happened is lost on me. I have fond now however that I can appreciate some tattoo work on most people who have chosen what they wish to display carefully and wisely.

There are countless books on tattoos and body art. It is a big business these days. For me however, the best place to find art is still the art gallery.

I still donít want a tattoo. I canít think of an image that would suit me. Nor would I want to be burdened with the same picture on my back, arm, chest, buttocks or thighs forever. I find myself thinking how often I change my wall decorations, with different posters, cards, books on my shelves, etc.My computer wallpaper and screen-savers change constantly. I might consider a tattoo if I could change the picture about once a month, but no; once on, you are stuck with it. I donít see any design that I would feel to be totally suited to me personally. I prefer being one of lifeís Tabla Rasaís (A blank canvas).


Arthur Chappell