Saturday, 18 June 2011

Tattoo Soup

The swimming pool is one of our favourite places. Both girls love to swim even though neither is particularly good at it.

Possibly it's best feature of the pool though is that it is an excellent place to go to reaffirm a positive body image. Oh. And to raise imponderable questions about body art.

I have no problem with tattoos. I wouldn't chose to get one but that has more to do with an aversion to even slight discomfort, let alone pain. But also I have a changing set of interests and the things (and people) I was passionate about in my 20s are not the things and people I'm passionate about now. I wore leg warmers and had floppy hair back then. I don't now because I would feel ridiculous. It's the same, for me, with tattoos.

It's hard to imagine that my feelings towards my children would ever change though. And yet the tradition of having your offspring's name tattooed onto your skin confuses me.

What used to baffle me was this: it's always men who have them and, mostly, they get the name of their first born son inked across their back. So
I thought that it was their own name and couldn't understand why they would want to do that. Evidently it is not as an aide memoir as it's it written where they can't see it. Then I settled on the theory that it must be so that they can be identified in the event of a stabbing, say, or some other violent incident. Finally, I saw a guy with a girl's name splayed over his shoulders and realised that it was the names of their kids! Hurrah! And very sweet. But then I started to noticed some unfortunate problems.

Firstly, you have the dilemma of the first-born. Imagine this: you're a tattoo kind of chap. Your partner has just delivered your first child and OMG! It's a boy! A little copy of you! A chip off the old block! My God you're proud! So proud in fact that you remove yourself to the tattoo parlour at the first opportunity to get the little chap's name emblazoned across your back like a pair of nomenclatural wings. Splendid.

But then she gets pregnant again. Great news. Number two arrives and several weeks pass before someone - her, your mate, your Dad - asks when you'll be off to the tattooist again. Uh oh: you have a problem. Little Jagger's name takes up half your upper torso. Where the hell do you fit in newly-arrived Bianca? Or is it Jerri?

You can't use your chest because that's, like, prime position. It's better than the slot you allocated to number one and primogeniture is ingrained into the British like tea-drinking and complaining. You have to go with the small of the back don't you? It's the only space left. The problem is - and you don't know this yet because you're only 25 - is that you're going to get really hairy down there like your Dad and poor little Bianca's name will start to look like a neglected park only without, one would hope, the dog fouling, whilst Jagger's name will merely be adorned with a few silvery whisps. Almost like tinsel. And what message will that give to your little girl, eh?

You have even greater problems if you've given a really creative name to your kid. My personal favourite example of this is the man I saw with the word "chase" written in massive gothic letters across his shoulder blades.

There's research to be done too. It's not good enough when you have access to the internet to assume that your tattooist knows what he's doing in terms of spelling, Chinese or Japanese characters or....Roman numerals. These are popular amongst Jagger's Dad's mates. Sadly the one who's boy has just turned 13 ought to have checked before he had the name etched above the date MDCCCXCVIIIo. Or 1898 to us ordinary folk.

L's take on this sums it up for me. On witnessing a VERY tattooed man at the pool one day she whispered to me, horrified, "Daddy, I think that man must have been sleeping with a felt tip in the bed. With the lid off."

Monday, 13 June 2011

Do Not Read Until August 2025

Dear Girls

Now that S has turned 18 and my legal ability to influence anything you do has lapsed there are some things you need to know.

I lied. I lied about loads of things but here are the most heinous. I'm truly sorry about this. I tried to raise you with integrity and respect but sadly I failed quite early on because, well frankly because it was funny. Ho hum.

So here goes.

1. I am not a really small giant who got thrown out of Giantland for being embarrassingly small. I'm just quite a big human.

2. I do not have magical powers that throw an anti-monster force field around the house. That was just to make you feel less afraid. The business of screwing up my face like I was concentrating and then the elaborate arm-waving culminating in the finger clicks was just for show. Monsters could have got in AT ANY TIME. It was a bit cavalier I'm afraid but at least you believed you were safe.

3. Bees DO make honey. But wasps do NOT make mustard.

4. The Lollipop Lady does not live in the bushes next to her crossing. She has rather a nice big house just off Ferry Road.

5. Remember that vile yellow anti-biotic that the doctor used to prescribe? The one that was meant to taste of banana but actually tasted like a ferret had thrown up in the bottle and it had been allowed to ferment in a slurry pit? That stuff didn't make you invisible. I could see you the whole time.

6. You can eat jelly babies any way you like. The whole thing about it being best to eat the head first so you don't have to listen to the screaming? That's not true. Jelly babies like being eaten. It tickles them.

7. I do not explode if you don't hug me. I'm just a little crestfallen.

8. The tooth fairy never wrote to you. That was me every time. The tooth fairy has much nicer handwriting but is a very poor correspondent.

9. If you chew with your mouth open you won't lose your hair. Just all your friends.

10. And finally Rudolph never ate the carrot you carefully peeled and left out for him. That was Mummy. Nothing filled her with more pleasure than spitting crumbs of half-chewed carrot over the hearth on Chrismas Eve for the sake of authenticity.

So there you are: the tissue of lies I spun around your childhoods. Please forgive me the dishonesty. As you both know, lying is wrong and if you tell too many lies your legs fall off.

All my love

Dad xxx