I have four small tattoos, all of which I got in my 20s. Please remember that if you come to judge me.

All four were done at different times, but their placement forms a band around my upper right arm.

My first tattoo was neither original nor surprising. A simple celtic knot with blue colouring. I got it from the famous Terry’s Tattoo Studio next to Glasgow’s Tron Theatre whilst hungover on a Saturday morning. I knew it was going to hurt because my friend, who’d had a tattoo a few months earlier, had described it as ‘having hot glass ground into your skin, repeatedly’.

Tattoo

It wasn’t anywhere near as bad as that, although I was somewhat intimidated by the shop when I went in. Fortunately, the process was very business-like and didn’t take long. And then I had a tattoo.

Two Tattoos

My next two tattoos were done as a pair, a week apart. This time, I wanted something which summed up where I was and what I was doing. At that point, I’d started music production work. I had a lot of ambition, and was getting lots of work. I did notice, however, that my plans were often waylaid by outside influence and offers of other work. I was learning that my plans weren’t always any indicator of where I was going to end up.

With that in mind, I chose two tattoos. The Japanese* symbols for what you want to happen (ambition) and what is going to happen (destiny). They went on either side of my first tattoo.

Tattoo

I’ve heard horror stories of people who got tattoos in another language, only to find out later that the symbol meant something very different from what they’d intended. I was scared to google them in case they weren’t what they were meant to be, but (boringly) they were.

TattooI designed my fourth tattoo myself. I wanted three, slightly stylised lines to represent my mum, dad and brother. I took my time getting the right design, printed it out and took it in.

It was far more satisfying getting my own design done even though it was basically three wavy lines and nothing of any real artistic merit. I did decide, and still believe, that any further tattoos I get will be my own design. No going back to stock images now.

Future Tattoos

During my 30s, I didn’t really have a hankering for more tattoos. Now, though, that’s changed.

Many of you will already know that Jenny had heart surgery when she was 2, leaving a scar down her chest. I was worried that the scar would make her feel different from everyone else, so, I decided to get a tattoo of her scar on my chest.

Then I got to thinking that maybe she wouldn’t like that. I feared that she thought I might be belittling what she went through in some way. So I resolved to wait until she was old enough to understand, and then run it by her. She’s now six, so it’s probably time. I’ll let you know how that conversation goes.

The final tattoos I want are inspired by this:

I’m curious as to whether or not any other bloggers would be interested in doing a UK equivalent of this. Would you let your child design a tattoo for you? If you would, get in touch!

The P.S. aka The Bit Where I Look Like An Idiot
I was actually really worried about the fact that my tattoos might say something other than what I’d intended, but what I did was actually a bit worse. In preparing for this post, I contacted a friend who I knew had been studying abroad and learning this new language that would potentially allow him to translate my tattoo. He’d warned me that, just that morning, he’d seen a tattoo which actually translated as going out of business. Sheesh.
Just as I was about to send him through a photo, I did a quick google and I’m very glad I did. My mate had spent the best part of a year in China. He’d been learning Mandarin. In the 20 years since I’d got my tattoo, I’d forgotten what bloody language my tattoos were in. They were in Japanese, not Mandarin. I’m a bloody idiot. They still mean what they meant when I got them, but, nevertheless, what a complete fanny.