I grew up to the sound of needles
click clacking through my childhood
like nanna’s loose teeth.
My mother’s fast fingers
manipulated wool,
turning it from a wayward ball
into scratchy sweaters
far from the cosy swaddle
of soft baby blankets.

She fashioned me a swimsuit
in blush pink
which the North Sea sucked at
while I paddled
and splashed and squealed.
I emerged almost bare
initially unaware that the wool,
heavy with brine,
sagged around my skinny knees.

Tears laddered my face
like dropped stitches.
Sniggering kids
in their 10 bob nylon suits
pointed, while mum tiptoed
across the sticks and stones
of Brighton Beach
to shield me in betowelled arms.

My protests never stopped her knitting
lace garters for my wedding day,
blankets for nuptial nights,
and bonnets for new babies.

Now here I am,
alone, in silence,
sifting through a box
full of sixties models
smiling from the dog-eared
patterns of memories.

The Trouble with Tatts

Writing 101, day 7 – be inspired by a tweet (choice of five)

I’m with her on this one.  I could never get a tattoo because I just wouldn’t be able to make up my mind. Firstly, what to have, and secondly, where to put the darn thing.

I did for a while fancy have a ying yang symbol, after all I am a gemini and I have twins.  It is the symbol of a philosophy I can relate to and understand in many ways.  But I saw a TV comedy a few years back where someone had had one done, and another character remarked that she thought it was a road sign.  Well, that blew the tin lid off that one.

I could have my daughter’s names, perhaps entwined with roses… but that seems a bit daft and frankly, a bit twee. I know who they are – their details are engraved on my heart for goodness sake, and anyone who spends five minutes with me knows who they are too (yep, I’m a bragger, what can I say!). They can see how I feel about them by the way my eyes light up, and I go all soft around the edges, without having to see a sagging image drawn on my ageing body.

And that’s the trouble with tattoos. Without a doubt some are works of art (though from ones that I’ve witnessed most aren’t), but they will shift and change as we age. Your dragon might be a beautiful fierce creature now, but in 10 or 20 years time it’s going to be a shrivelled up old lizard.

I have another problem with inks too.  This is purely personal and I don’t want to upset or alienate anyone, but to me, tattoos look a bit grubby.  The perfect gleaming skin that you were born with has been permanently violated, by that indelible mark. It doesn’t matter what the picture or how cute the message, it just looks a tad seedy. Sorry. (while I’m at it the same goes for loads of piercings!)

Of course people have been finding ways to decorate and change their bodies for centuries. You’d have thought we would have grown out of it by now.  The bound feet or heads of different ancient cultures shock us.  Lip plates and elongated necks from different tribes make us drop our jaws in disbelief.  Lets face it, we all have different opinions on what is beautiful, but those views, have an ebb and flow just like any other fashion.

Remember a few years ago when everyone was rushing out to get a Celtic armband tattoo? Or when butterflies on shoulders or backs became a common sight on women of a certain age.  Then the slightly younger ones moved on to little vines twining around their hips up to their increasingly flabby tummys. and more recently writing, scrawled over various bits of body, has become popular. What sort of regret will those people have when they realise that they are forever associated with one of those cheesy phrases that now over populate facebook.

Yep, I’m not keen.  I believe that for most of us a tattoo is ‘gilding the lilly’.  Experiment with make-up if you must.  Try fake tattoos, but don’t permanently deface that beautiful body!