I was shitting it if I’m honest, I don’t recall shitting it like this before (maybe I did, I got a tattoo last year and haven’t been pissed to read back to see if I did/didn’t.) It disrupted my night with IC, and ballsed up the subsequently sleep. I woke early and drank coffee and looked at my design. After 6 months hard (hard) work it was perfect.
At 9-ish I left for Kentish Town, short trip on the DLR from Hackney, even though my appointment wasn’t until 10 I couldn’t hang around at IC’s anymore, she’d gone to work already and I was in danger of breaking something fidgeting.
I’d already decided I was going to have a fucking bacon sandwich at a greasy-ish spoon, when it comes to such places the Camden area has them in abundance, frankly, it’s enough to turn one stomach don’t you know. I settled in one near the venue that didn’t have all workmen and old ladies eating egg and ordered a bacon sandwich and a mug of tea to accompany my paranoia. The sandwich arrived with more fat on it than a hippo but it was bloody nice. I did The Guardian crossword frenetically. Tattoo down? Fuck.
By the time I arrived a heavily tattooed N was already there, outside, on the phone, with his Harley ticking cool in the warm sunshine. After scanning some of his work on my spindly arms he gave me a nod and I went inside to face the needle.
For those of you without ink one of two things happens before you get physically worked over. Either the artist will draw directly on your body or, if like me, they will take your design and trace it by hand. This means that black lines are outlined and it’s here, if you’ve a shit artist, that designs can be compromised. N spent a good half hour tracing mine out before making the purple transfer and calling me into the studio.
The transfer was applied to my requirements and N suggested it went higher up my arm, I agreed. Then he began. A tattoo feels like someone is dragging a cocktail stick over the skin, it’s not intense pain more of an insidious irritation. The worst part is the beginning, the first 30 seconds are always quiet intense but then endorphins kick in and go some way to soothing the discomfort. You must be aware that the outlines hurt more than filling in and the vague pain improves as the tattoo proceeds, though this depends on which parts of the body the needles covers. It helps to chat and settle into the environment, after all, you’re having an indelible mark put on your body so you may as well appreciate it what’s happening.
It took a couple of hours but when done N vocalised the fact that he was rather chuffed with how it’d turned out, which I took to be ‘ I fucked up.’ I saw the tattoo in the mirror and my heart sank to my baseball shoes.
I left feeling hot, prickly-uncomfortable hot, like I’d just nicked something of value from a kindly relative and sloped to the World’s End for a pint to contemplate. No use, I went home to contemplate the matter further but by now, under the cling film, the tattoo resembled a lumpy oil slick. I hung around the flat for a couple of hours catching up on the i-player before fucking off to Central London to hook up with my bro and an old mate who is rather famed. The bro’s missus joined us, annoyingly, IC who’d been re-assuring me for most of the day by reminding me I felt just the same way when I had the last one done, was out with mates and unable to pop along too. Pisser, yeah.
After a while famed-fellow and I walked to New Oxford Street and said cheerio when the 55 bus arrived to take me to Clerkenwell. I met Frank, his missus, Rosh, Merve and Rea whose birthday it was. The former party also reminded me that I was moaning about the last time I got inked in much the same way as I was now, come to think of it, my bro did too…
I was a littler pissed when I got home, so I decided to drown my sorrows by watching a load of Grindcore on youtube and consume Whiskey like an idiot. But first I had to change the cling film on my arms and wash down the muck that had leaked out. I could barely stand to look at it if I’m honest.
This morning hungover after another wash down I was more philosophical. Basically, no one has really seen it apart from me and N and because I’ve been living with the design for so long it’s possible that my tendency towards OCD has distorted my expectations of what I’ve had done. Also, this piece is more figurative/complex than the others. Basically I need IC to see it, something that’ll happen shortly.
So, the jury remains out.
Tune in Monday when I’ll be carving off my skin with an oyster shucker.