A couple of weeks ago, I decided, at 53 years old, to get a first tattoo. And before you scream “Midlife Crisis!” let me explain that I have been thinking about getting one for a little while. Long enough to know that it wasn’t going to be a snap decision that I would later regret.
But what to get? Someone helpfully suggested the tattoo should represent something that means a lot to me. Well, Andy means a lot to me, but I wasn’t about to get his likeness inked onto my arm. He did tentatively suggest I might like to portray him on one of his kite boards, surfing a towering wave, but I resisted that particular temptation. I also love my children very much, but getting their names written in Chinese on my arms, or across the bottom of my back, seems a bit passé now somehow. If I was going to do that, I should have done it when they were born. At 20 and 23, I suspect they may well think it’s a bit late now.
No, it was obvious from the start. All my life I have been a cat person. I play the lottery with the sole intention of winning enough money to start a cat rescue sanctuary, and if I could adopt every stray in the world I would. If I was going to have a tattoo, it was always going to be a cat. Not only to symbolise all the felines that have allowed me to look after them up to now, (and those that are still to come into my life), but also a reminder that when things are tough… there are always cats.
Next, where to put the tattoo? On my shoulder, back, bottom, or neck? 30 years ago, I nearly had an Egyptian eye inked on my back, (I was going to tell my kids that I could see out of it), but that moment passed. As a slightly older person now, I thought perhaps a tattoo would be nice on my wrist/hand as I wanted it somewhere visible .. but discreet.
I found a couple of designs I liked on the internet and Andy helpfully drew them on my wrist with a black biro to give me an idea! They looked very realistic! I sent the pictures of the designs to my kids, (who will never hold back from telling me what they really think), and immediately got very positive responses.
I spent some time looking for a tattooist that I thought I would trust and found the wonderful Mary Moore, a local tattooist, on Instagram. Mary does a lot of intricate designs and her specialities are Disney characters and animal designs. I messaged her for an appointment and was a little taken aback when she said she had a cancellation the following day. I quickly posted on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook so that I couldn’t chicken out!
I had literally no idea what to expect on arriving, but Mary made me feel very welcome and I felt immediately at ease. She chatted to me while she did the drawings and made the transfers and made sure I was entirely comfortable before we started. She even changed the positioning a couple of times because she wasn’t quite happy. She showed me the “pen” (it really is a pen, it certainly doesn’t look like a needle!) and then…we were off.
I was expecting it to be quite painful, but I can say honestly it wasn’t. Not even a bit… and Mary chatted to me throughout. It was all done incredibly quickly, she has such a steady hand! Overall, I would liken the experience to being at a spa, it was certainly very therapeutic. And of course it’s instant gratification, because your design comes alive in front of your eyes!
Indeed, I was so happy with the result there was a bit of squealing and screeching on my part as I got a little over excited! Mary gamely put up with this, though she said she hadn’t had anyone get quite this thrilled about a tattoo before. When she finished, she spent some time explaining the after care to me and gave me a leaflet and some cream to apply. She wrapped the tattoos in clingfilm and I was all done. I couldn’t wait to phone everyone and send pictures!
I was expecting my hand to ache for the rest of the evening, but there were no after effects at all. I couldn’t keep my eyes off it, not quite believing I had finally got a tattoo. Everyone says that’s it’s a slippery slope and once you start, there is no stopping. They are right. I’m already planning another one…
If you are thinking about getting a tattoo, whatever your age, I heartily recommend it. And if you are anywhere near Southampton, check out the work of the wonderful Mary Moore.. you will not be disappointed. ❤️
Mary Moore: instagram.com/marymooreart