My friend Kathy got her first and only tattoo when we were 16. It was a Celtic stamp of something we had no alignment to, no understanding of what it signified or stood for. The tattooist didn’t know either. But Kathy liked the look of it, so had it permanently inked on the small of her back – or, as my Eastend granddad later articulated, the ‘top of her arse’.


For context, tattoo placement was crucial at that time. It was the 90s, and we were living in a uniform of low-slung, bootcut jeans and crop tops – you can visualise the rest.


Now, when you’re 16, you don’t have much cash, and we were no exception. We quickly learned that good tattoos by talented artists are expensive, whereas bad tattoos by less talented artists are more affordable. The result wasn’t hideous, but it wasn’t nice either. I pretended to appreciate it, but Kathy instantly disliked it, and has been stuck disliking it ever since. It’s now been 29 years and counting.


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