In 1956 I joined HMS Cockade stationed in the Far East, I was just seventeen years old and a very new sailor. It was a natural progression in the Navy to torment and tease the new young sailors. My career was no exception and one of the things the older salts set their sights on was that I had no tattoos. I was taunted by many that I was afraid of the needle. Others threatened to get me drunk and then have a tattoo done on my bum. Until arriving in Asia I had never seen a tattoo shop let alone entered one. I could see little sense in marking ones skin with such a permanent and often silly tattoos. I saw sailors with a variety of tattoos, one had hinges tattooed at his elbows, a sentry with rifle poised on the cheek of a bum saying “halt who goes there. One guy had ”I love Mary” on his arm, then Mary dumped him! He changed it to read”I love Mother”. A popular tattoo was a sailing ship on the forearm saying “Homeward Bound” and I confess if I were to have a tattoo that would have been my choice.. Fortunately I continued to resist and eventually was homeward bound with my skin unblemished. The tattoo shops in places like Hong Kong were less than sanitary and all new tattoos became infected requiring a treatment of penicillin. I never came to understand the desire of young sailors to mark their bodies with tattoos. I suppose in many cases it was to be like their older and not very wise shipmates. I wonder what some of those tattoos look like today as my shipmates age. Probably not the art they were once considered to be. Now in 2014 we have tattoo parlours everywhere, even here on tiny Prince Edward Island. We have young men and women walking our streets with the most outrageous skin art. That’s before before they pierce their bodies with rings, studs and a strange array of other metals. Are we living in a world gone wild? do they really think they look good??? I watch the premiership soccer on a regular basis, and every second player seems to be covered in tattoos. The question here is this, have I lost touch with modern society or has it lost touch with me??? In July I will be off to Halifax to watch the International Tattoo!! now that is a sensible use of the word “tattoo”.
God Bless and keep reading