32 years or so after the last one, I decided to get a tattoo. Mid-life crisis 3.0? Maybe. There are few benefits to middle-age, but one of them is that the opinions of others mean increasingly less. I fancy a bit of body art, so I’m getting some.
Friends of ours are regulars at Evolution Tattoos in Paphos, and I admired the work. Why not? I thought. Some hunting around on Pinterest, and I had a few ideas, which I ran past Ivo, one half of the Bulgarian inky duo. We settled on a stoic themed design for my forearm. Yes. My forearm. Not something that I would have done when I was pretending to be a corporate cobra.
The date was set, and at 10:30 am, I turned up all trepidation and false bravado. Friends had recommended a numbing cream, but I’d decided that I would go macho, grin and bear it. To be fair, the pain was pretty manageable and I was only in the chair for a bit over an hour.
As I type, my arm is encased in a dressing held on by cling film. Tomorrow, the dressing is off, and I start a vaseline regime until the healing is complete and everything smooths over. Only then will I be able to see the “end result” as it were. The sneak preview before the dressing went on was extremely encouraging.
When I was a lad, tattoos were rebellion. Matelots, squaddies and criminals had tattoos. I define my teenage years as “rebel without a clue” but I still waited until I was 20 before I got my first ink.
In the football World Cup, Italia 90; an Irishman called Ray Houghton scored a winning goal against Italy. I spent many of my waking hours in an Irish Pub in the centre of Prague. As you may imagine, the pub erupted when the goal went in, and a long, wet evening ensued. At some point, it was decided that I needed a Guinness Toucan, complete with football and Ireland scarf tattooed onto my right shoulder. When this was decided, and by whom remains a bit of a mystery, but I can assure you - it’s there. If only I liked football. Or considered myself Irish. Ah well. For several years afterwards, I’d have friends cut the sleeves off my t-shirts every time I had too many beers - so nightly almost. It cost me a fortune in t-shirts and bored everyone senseless.
The next year, I decided to have the emblem of clan MacLennan embossed on the opposite shoulder. Now, Lennon is a sept of MacLennan, so it’s my clan. Maybe. Actually, although my Dad was born and bred in Scotland, his Dad was an Irish immigrant, so well, it might not be my clan. An unfortunate discovery to make once the mark’s been engraved into your flesh.
Ho-hum. Lends credibility to the Toucan though. Still, I like the motto: “Dum Spiro Spero” which translates to “While I breathe, I hope.” Sort of stoic.
Both tattoos are faded now, the colour mostly bled away.
I recently discovered that I’m an accidental stoic. I’ve been a stoic for longer than I’ve known what a stoic is. Hence the design. In case you haven’t had the benefit of learning Latin at school - “Memento Vivere” translates to “remember to live”. Carpe Diem means “seize the day”, and “Memento Mori” is “remember death”. If you look carefully, you’ll also see “Tempus Fugit”, “time flies”. You’ll be picking up on the theme. “Memento Mori” is central to stoicism. It is an exhortation to remember that death awaits us all, and our time here is precious.
Bottom line is that I’m delighted with it.
One observation I would make is that tattoos breed tattoos. Watch this space.
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