Much to my daughters dismay I have never been one for taking too many risks with my appearance; in fact I take comfort in the simple idea that weekends are about t-shirts, in direct contrast to my weekdays, which contain shirts and ties.

Even when I was younger I watched as other lads got curly perms (think Kevin Keegan) and ear rings (think the lads on the fairground who could make standing on a moving ride look easy).

I toyed with the idea of going blond in an attempt at looking like Sting until a rather too honest friend pointed out that they could change my hair but not my face.

So I was left to take pride in my handle-bar moustache (think The Village People). When I grew it in the seventies it was at the end of a fad for facial hair. I had quite light locks and so it took me months to produce anything that could be seen by the naked eye. Looking back at old photos now I can see that it just appears to be two faint clumps of fluff on either side of my chin with very little on my upper lip.

So it is that, as I approach half a century (not out), I have decided to get a tattoo. Not a big brash one, just a small discrete symbol of my wish to be different, by being the same as other people. I recall meeting one larger than life girl who had a tattoo of David Beckham complete with his own miniature Tattoos; this is surely commitment to the cause when even your tattoos have tattoos.

My father-in-law (who, at eighty seven, has fought in seven world wars for the likes of youngsters like me) rolled his eyes and chuckled as I announced the news of my intent to be permanently marked.

He has a rather impressive military shield on his left forearm so I asked him how he came about having such artistry on his body. He told me that during the Second World War, when he was stationed in India, he and a mate had too much time and money available for such young lads away from home.

They had been for a night out and had more than their fair share of rocket fuel and so were feeling very brave. They arrived at the Tattooist just as he was getting ready to close but managed to talk them into staying for just two more jobs.

He agreed and they both selected a large and intricate emblem to go on their chests. The proprietor, however, was unable to stay in order to do two difficult pieces. He suggested that one of the lads should have a chest tattoo and the other should have one on his arm.

They were both a little disappointed but agreed to toss a coin to see who should have the glory of the chosen design. My father in law lost and, in his lubricated state, unhappily had to make do with the lesser offering.

The next morning things were a little different, as his army pal woke in pain to face a day's duty with a stinging reminder of their drunken episode.

Hearing granddad’s tale has made me take time to reconsider the idea of body art. So what I am supposed to do to mark my journey through middle age.

My third daughter settled the matter by deciding that she wanted to get her own emblem carefully inked on her wrist and has accused me of wanting to copy her; then rest of the girls joined in to say that my idea of body art at my age was all wrong.

So I am left with choosing either blonde streaks or a curly perm; or perhaps, seeing I have a receding hairline, growing my hair long and wearing it in a ponytail, pulled back so that it looks like it has been caught in a lift door and is stretching my forehead back (think Francis Rossi from Status Quo).

No comments: