Getting inked

We’d talked about getting ring tattoos around the time of our wedding but somehow never got round to it despite researching tattoo parlours in Altoona and State College (the major towns near Dave) and in various parts of London. This time we happened upon somewhere much nearer home…

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…the Grin-N-Bare It Tattoo Parlor in Tyrone. Business there is good and although our needs were very small and basic we were lucky to get an appointment with tattoo artist Reagan Lavish fitted in before I leave.

I guess from the number of cigarette butts outside and the pool table inside that this is quite a happening place later in the evening (open from midday to 9pm most days) but we were there in the quiet of the afternoon.

Not being an habitué of tattoo parlours and never having had a tattoo before it was, of course, a fascinating experience. As well as the aforementioned pool table there are comfortable sofas and a coffee table ladened with magazines for inspiration.

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Dave flicked through Ballistic (“The Premier Firearms and Survival Magazine”) but the only ink-action to be found was on the cover, everything else was guns. This perhaps was related to the most notable interior design feature, the mounted specimens of various creatures along one wall.

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Although we are led to believe that the trophy on the left was offed by an arrow which it is vainly attempting to remove with its teeth.

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At the other end there was a rack of a different sort.

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The sheep’s upward-pointing hooves at the bottom of the mount are apparently designed to act as coat hooks. Dave’s grandfather had a white tailed deer with four hooves available to hang coats and hats on. It made a strong impression on him as a child.

Having taken us back through to her centre of operations Reagan put up with our (ok, my) chatter and endless questions with great good humour, was a fount of information and more than happy to be photographed while she worked. Ring tattoos do not go all the way round the finger, she told us, because the skin on the palm of the hand wears away so quickly it’s not worth wasting the ink. Useful, Dave opined, for infidelity if approaching open-handed and palm up.

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As Dave’s finger was shaved he mused on the possibility of tattoos on hairy arms. Some people, Reagan informed us, have a woman tattooed on their leg, say, and shave all the hair around the image to leave the woman isolated in hirsute glory.

Political tattoos? I asked… oh yes, someone came in before the 2016 elections had even happened and had a skull sporting a Donald Trump hair-do tattooed with “Make America” above and “great again” beneath. Sadly this does not seem to have made its way into Reagan’s Instagram feed.

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The purple in this picture is the colour of the transfer applied as a guide. The outer edges have been inked and now the filling begins.

And the laws governing tattoos? Apparently anything the customer wants, and the artist is comfortable doing, is permissible. We heard of one person who requested and received (but not from Reagan) the name of her pimp daddy inscribed around her anus.

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It didn’t hurt, really, although the level of discomfort increased with time as the skin became more irritated. But these are teeny tiny simple little designs that took very little time and on parts of the anatomy that are less painful than others to ink. Feet, apparently, can hurt a lot, as can anywhere where skin lies thin over bone. Having something added behind your ear can sound like the dentist’s drill from hell as well as, I imagine, being rather painful.

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There we are, all newly inked up. I decided to have a small triskelion on my hand at the same time but only later discovered, rather to my dismay, that it may significantly negatively affect my employability when I start job-hunting in February. The ring could be hidden under… a ring, but the triskelion will require a more imaginative solution. But really, am I going to want to work somewhere which would refuse my labour because of such a small and obviously delightful personal embellishment? I think not.

Watching me watching you


The Homo sapiens all looked away first.

eyes in the crowd

The minicab driver who eventually delivered me home had a small but hyper-realistic glass eye on a silver chain at his throat.

Looking without seeing. Seeing without looking.

Time for some shut-eye.