For no apparent reason, I thought I’d write a post about all the tattoos I have. Clearly tattoos are a stupid idea and you’re better off ‘building your personal brand’ or whatever it is that you want to do by not having any, but some of us are stupider and more impulsive than others and we can’t help ourselves. Also, it’s a complete lie to claim that the stigma of having a tattoo is going away, that people from all classes are getting them now and that they’re a more sophisticated choice than they were, say, twenty years ago. No they’re not. They’re still hella tacky and only people on benefits and dirty gays get them. So here are descriptions of all the ones I have, plus a percentage of regret for each one.
1) ‘BRET EASTON ELLIS’ on my left bicep. Regret: 87%
I never wanted to get a tattoo before I thought of this one. Then of course I realised that I couldn’t find inner peace ever again, not until I got it. It’s been a great meme, I won’t lie, and it’s generated mad internet hits, but seriously though, couldn’t I have found a better author to pay tribute to? I still cling on to the idea that I will always like his first five books, but I’m kinda planning not to read anything new that comes out just to avoid raping the good memories even further. I’m also starting to realise why people only tattoo dead writers’ names on themselves, because at least you won’t get F Scott Fitzgerald tweeting boastfully about having sexual relations with individuals who are twenty-five years younger than him like it’s some sort of achievement. Mind you, this problem is easily resolved by unfollowing somebody on twitter, so. If I could go back and redo this tattoo, I’d probably have ‘F Scott Fitzgerald’ or ‘Albert Camus’ or ‘Sylvia Plath’ instead. I’m actually this close to covering it with a big black block and starting over on the other arm.
2) My full name around my leg just below the knee. Regret: 78%
This consists of my first name, two middle names and surname. All of those can be found on my passport and driving licence. Two of those (the ones I use in my everyday life) can be found on the cover of my book. I guess I had this done soon after I finalised what I wanted my full name to be, following a Deed Poll (or three). It was probably an over-enthusiastic, one-dimensional ‘identity statement’, but I don’t think you can blame me: you’d have done the same if you’d been born with a repulsive foreign name too and you’d finally managed to break free from it. The percentage of regret would be higher for this tattoo were it not for an incident that took place at #Coachelly a few days ago. I went to pick up an alcohol wristband (proving I’m over 21) and the guy who was giving them out looked at my driving licence, then looked at me and said ‘This doesn’t look like you’, before refusing to give me one. Thinking: a) you blind American fuck and b) it might not look exactly like me because the picture was taken when I was 17 and it’s now fourteen years later and I’m fucking 31, I said ‘Listen, take a look at the name on the ID’, then I lifted my leg up and showed him the tattoo. He gave me a wristband.
3) ‘and this is how I ended up here, a secondary character out of Less Than Zero’ down the left side of my back. Regret: 22%
I still like this one. Even though I don’t really, genuinely relate to that book anymore, I still think it’s valid as a reflection of how I felt at some point, you know? Plus the font is quite small and non-intrusive.
4) Coat of Arms on my upper back between my shoulders. Regret: 28%
This is all right, I suppose, although it’s the one tattoo I have that looks like I grew up in a council estate. I’m sure half the people who see it think it’s the coat of arms of some football club. It is, in fact, the coat of arms of my family. There’s a family history book somewhere that tracks my family history back to the 12th century. This was assigned by Richard I of England (aka Richard the Lionheart) to a great-great-great-etc grandfather of mine for helping out with the Crusades. You probably don’t believe that. It’s what the book says and unless you, personally, can do extensive research and bring me factual documentation to disprove it, you can stick it. I would also like to point out that the coat of arms remains despite me having changed the surname I was born with. Family coats of arms do not belong to surnames. They are passed on by bloodline to male descendents. So if you’re called ‘Williams’ or something, you can’t just google ‘Williams family coat of arms’ and appropriate whatever you find. Similarly, I can change my surname sixty-five thousand times and still have my coat of arms. I’m getting very defensive about this, aren’t I? Wow. Disconcerting.
5) ‘YOU’LL MEET AN ARMY OF ME’ split between my two triceps. Regret: 65%
Clearly a Bjork lyric. My main problem with this one is that it’s the one that everyone can see all of the time. I can only hide it by wearing long sleeves and I don’t particularly like wearing long sleeves. I get too warm, you know? At least I never get to see it, because I don’t often face the back of my arms straight on. In fact I can’t see most of my tattoos and that’s a good thing, because they’re tacky and gross. I feel sorry for the people walking behind me when I’m wearing a pair of swimming shorts though. When lamestreamer people see this tattoo, they take it literally and think that I used to be in the army. Then the time comes for me to open a tin or tie a knot or something practical like that and they realise how wrong they were. A few alt people recognise where it’s from though and they shout ‘Bjork’ at me. Every time this happens I get caught off guard and spend a few seconds wondering why this mad person is shouting random pop star names at me and as I’m halfway through shouting ‘LAYYYDEEEEE GAAHHHGAAHHH’ or ‘SHAAAGGGYYYYYYYY’ back at them, I remember my tattoo. Then I smile and nod in a knowing manner and we all move along.
6) Polar bear outline on my left thigh. Regret: 77%
I have NO idea why I got this. Literally, not a single clue. Polar bears are ‘OK’ in the animal stakes, I suppose, but seriously there’s a limit. I DON’T EVEN LIKE ANIMALS. Oh my God, I forgot to mention. The polar bear is resting its front paw on a giant compass. Conceptually it’s like a bad, bad Lord of the Rings-style fantasy nightmare. This tattoo is so nonsensical that it’s a running joke amongst my friends and when we want to rate something in terms of absurdity we ask: ‘On a scale of 1 to Polar Bear, how ridiculous is it?’ Nothing has been rated ‘Polar Bear’ yet.
7) ‘A SENSE OF REGRET GETTING STRONGER’ around my left thigh just below the polar bear. Regret: 70%
This is a line from Exit Through The Wound. Despite the meme / self-promo opportunities that having a line from your own book tattooed on you presents, this was the tipping point where it became VERY apparent to me that my tattoos were getting more and more pointless and hideous and I had to stop.
My name is London Preppy and I haven’t used* for four months and six days. When I get to stage 9 of my 12-step programme, I’ll start going round and apologising to everyone that I’ve hurt with my hideous ‘body art’.