First, we need to go back 3-4 months to when my dad advised he was getting a tattoo for his 70th birthday. The doctors wouldn't let him do a parachute jump or wing-walking (I kid you not) so this was his next best celebratory option. I'd wanted a tattoo since my early 20's, had made (and cancelled) 2 appointments and walked in (and then out of) a tattooists on 5 separate occasions, but I figured if dad can do it then so can I. After deciding what I wanted (thank you Pinterest, Google Images and Lauren Thomas!) I emailed the tattooist with the script, style and wording I had settled on. And then waited...
3 months later we turned up at TattooUK in Rayners Lane. The place stank of disinfectant (in a good way), Clean white walls were decorated with tattoo inspiration and what sounded like a really fucked off bee was buzzing in the background. Kathy passed me a sign off sheet (am I on blood thinners, do I suffer from Psoriasis, did I understand that tattoos are permanent!?) and took in my somewhat panicked look. 'This your first tattoo' she stated rather than questioned, indeed it was as she must have then realised as I proceeded to ask question after question:
How long have you been doing this? (Ans: 3 yrs)
Are you sure the needles are fresh? (Ans: yes, opened and disposed of in front of me)
What happens if I need to sneeze? (Ans: tell me early!)
Once the transfer had been properly placed, a job which took 5 attempts, (no bad thing you really don't want a lopsided tattoo!|) and which the manager, Tuesday, had to OK we were good to go. The buzzing started and I found myself thinking, but this is fine, I can't even feel it I must have a really high pain threshold. Five seconds later a tiny army of sewing needles started having a fight on my wrist. No lie the first section hurt (my sister saying, 'describe the pain? what does it feel like' didn't help) and I did get a little woozy. But after a minute or two with some deep breathing, a cola and the fan pointed in my direction we started up. And actually from that point on it really wasn't that bad. The pain was more annoying than anything but you can't swat away a tattoo artist like you would a mosquito, I'm led to believe they really don't appreciate it. Twenty minutes later a flood of endorphins (now that bit I did like!) washed over me as she said 'that's it, you're done'.
And there it was, my beautiful baby body art. I wonder what I'll get next?
Thinking of getting inked? here's a few tips:
- Make sure you know what you want, and then mull it over in your noggin for at least a few months. Had I gone with my first tattoo idea I'd have a CHARMED logo tramp stamped to my lower back. On trend in the 90's but now quite dated and not something I'll want when I'm 90!
- Be in tip-top condition when you go (no coughs or cold).
- Don't drink alcohol the night before your appointment, it thins the blood.
- Ensure you've eaten something and have a sugary drink with you.
- Tell your tattooist if you're feeling hot or queezy.
- Don't be afraid to say you think the transfer (that they'll be working from) is off to one side or not straight. They wont mind, they'll want their work to be admired, not amusing.
- If you're not 100% sure you want it wait, you can always make another appointment.