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Sunday, March 3, 2013

This is permanent, right?

Tattoos are something I came to later in life. Some of the kids at secondary school used to mess around with needles and biro ink. These same people now no doubt curse their juvenile sensibilities every time they look in a mirror and see the spiderweb on their neck or mumm and dadd spelled incorrectly on their knuckles!

My tattoos began in the year 2000 on a trip to Australia. I had the sudden urge to get a tattoo. It wasn't a drunken rush, rather it was something I'd thought about years previously in Blackpool. I'd been on holiday in the Las Vegas of North West England with my then wife Linda. We were celebrating our anniversary by watching Roy "Chubby" Brown on the pier (I was always the romantic!) and as we walked down the prom towards Bispham we spotted a tattoo studio.

The window was filled with all of those really gaudy designs that I'm sure someone must ask for. You know the ones. Chinese Dragons, Anchors, Flaming Skulls with Snakes or Dragons going through the eyes and not forgetting the semi naked woman tattoos too.

But body art is personal. One man's Popeye is another woman's lawnmower and the reasons for getting said artwork are myriad.Some people want to express themselves through engraving their bodies

For me it was partly a form of delayed rebellion. My parents were a tad conservative when I was a kid. I wasn't allowed to get a tattoo, wasn't allowed to get a motorbike (although they went one better with a car for my 18th birthday!) and wasn't allowed any piercings. That last one I've never changed although a freckle on my right ear sometimes confuses people.

I wanted a tattoo but had no real idea what I wanted. I had been told to choose wisely, in the style of the old Templar Knight at the end of Indianna Jones and The Holy Grail (sic). But then I saw it. or, the inspiration at least. Jon Bon Jovi.

Yes the original Jersey Boy was there, in the newspaper, sporting a small tattoo on his right shoulder. The Superman 'S'. I knew right away that this was what I wanted, not the Superman 'S' but that other symbol of all that is right in the world. The Batman logo.

Standing there on the breezey promenade, explaining my need to a guy who looked like a cross between a Hells Angel and a Weeble, I didn't expect the answer I got. "Do you want the 60's one, the one from the comics or the Jack Nicholson one?" he said. I was about to point out that he meant Michael Keaton, but he wasn't in the mood. "Come back when you're sure, son". Wow, he sure knew the meaning of permanent.

That was the day I nearly got a tattoo but I guess the idea stayed with me. In Australia, I took a printout to a local tattoo artist and one hour later my left shoulder sported a small batman logo. It's not there now though as on a subsequent trip to Thailand with friends, I decided that it was just too small and I had it covered by, yes, a dragon tattoo. In between I also had another tattoo of a dragon on my right shoulder as a reminder of a subsequent trip to Asia and in 2010 I had a tattoo of an Indonesian cicak, a small lizard,  on the inside of my left forearm.

I'm currently debating another tattoo right now. My tattoos so far are reminders of great experiences and places I've visited and this time I'd like something to celebrate Uciel. I've been thinking about ways to combine her name with an interesting design. The spelling of her name, linked with phonemic symbols and a dramatic font is where I currently sit.

We'll see.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Unusual Suggestion at the Cinema

Went to the movies with Uciel tonight to watch Jack the Giant Slayer. The movie was pretty good but nowhere near as weird as the order for refreshments.

Me: saya mau popcorn mixed, kercil
Server: POPCORN MIXED KERCIL SATU! ada lagi pak?
Me: ya, coke satu, tidak pakai es
Server: kamu mau gel?
Me: Gel? dengan coke?
Server: ya.
Me: gel apa?
Server: gel lychee Pak
Me: betul? gel dengan coke?
Server: betul Pak.
Me: ini enak?
Server: tidak
Me: ok. Tidak pakai gel.


Friday, March 1, 2013

The darkest hour is just before dawn

Back in 1986, I'd just moved out of home into a pokey bedroom in a shared house on Bishopthorpe Road in York. My wings had already been exercised a couple of times in preparation for leaving home. When I was eleven, I'd deliberately missed the school bus one morning and turned round and went back home. Once there, I retrieved the rucksack I'd packed the night before, checked all of the essentials were in there; sleeping bag, pocket money, sheath-knife, and got changed.

Now dressed and having draped my school tie over a dining room chair as a reminder that I'd once been a member of the family, I locked the door and set off.

Most of you are going to be thinking "where?" "where does an eleven year old boy run away from home to?". Don't get me wrong, there are enough sad and tragic cases of kids who have no love in their lives. Whose childhoods are blighted by illness or disability or an uncaring society. But I wasn't one of those. I was a slightly spoiled eleven year old whose brother knew more ways to wind him up than was good for an eight year old. I told myself, it was either running away or fratricide. It had come to that.

So for the past week I'd been concocting a plan. I'd leave home as normal, head for the school bus, wait long enough for my parents to go to work before enacting my scheme. I made it all the way, by mixture of hitching and bus, to my Nan and Pop's house in Durham. And, it was a good 5 or 6 hours before my dad came to pick me up. That was a pretty grim drive back, I can tell you. Maybe I'll write more about this another time.

The second break for freedom came when I was 16. A particularly adolescent-sided argument with my mother ended with the words "that's it, I'm leaving". To which my mother replied that I shouldn't let the closing door hit me too hard on the way out. With no other way to save face, I stormed upstairs, packed a bag and booked myself into a B&B on the very same Bishopthorpe Road. Why? Well, I had my freedom, didn't I. I was on my own, out to make my way in the big, wide world. And where better to start than two miles from home in a bed and breakfast.

We had no internet in those days. We did have phones, but it didn't cross my mind to call a few places and find out how much B&B's cost. I just picked the nicest looking one and checked in. These days you have to show ID and sign registers. Back then, I handed over some cash to a small, grandmotherly type and in return I got a key. When I looked at the remnants of my wallet, I realised I'd probably got a maximum of 4 or 5 days living in this sort of luxury. The world turned and I returned to the family home. The pretext was that I'd forgotten underwear, but I think we all knew that that was as close as anyone was going to get to an I'm sorry. That came later.

So, 1986 and here I am. With my dad's help, I'm moved into a box room just outside York's Roman wall. I have a job, trainee manager in a bingo hall, and I have a place all of my own. What I don't have is any experience. I've always been adaptable and am pretty resourceful when push comes to shove, but that morning, when the electricity ran out and I didn't have 50p for the electricity meter and the small room heater that it powered, I understood one version of this blog's title.

Why mention all of this now? well, here I am nearly thirty years later and it's 5 am on a Thursday. I'm living in Indonesia, my wife is lying next to me and I'm sweating like a pig on a spit. Yep, the electricity has gone off and the meter needs feeding. Where's my wallet and torch.....