They call tattooing art! : @jakethewriter

Today’s Podcast from Jakethewriter, travel journalist, author, blogger and commentator looks at tattooing with a somewhat jaundiced eye.

They call tattooing art!

My regular readers will recall that I often dive into my memory bank and even dine out on the tale of my being naked in the gym changing room when a young man, equally naked, accosted me. After reeling back and before adopting a krav maga defence position, because I don’t swing that way, I noticed that he was covered in Gothic style tattoos. He pointed to my single tattoo that I sport on my right arm and said “Nice ink matey”.

Once I realised that he had no designs on my body – do you get that? Designs – tattoos. I became friendly and although he really was only asking me to admire his own tattoo portfolio and commenced to tell him that I had mine done many years ago in South Africa by a native Zulu who had been wearing an ostrich plume headdress and full tribal dress also that he had carried out the procedure using a sharp piece of bamboo which he rapped with a wooden mallet. My new friend said “Cor! Were you in the Boer War?” I turned and strode towards the showers, cheeky sod, calling me matey when he hardly knew me. End of memory – Well not quite I can remember that it bloody well hurt and it was like being stabbed in slow motion, hundreds of times.

Having admitted to having a tattoo, which is of a Springbok posed in front of the old Union of South Africa flag with a scroll that used to say simply South Africa but is now a dark blue smear as time has taken its toll. I still subscribe to the rather snooty position that unless the tattoo wearer is ex military especially Navy or Army where tattoos have been the custom since Nelson was a lad, tattooing is still very “Club Chav. It’s still the preserve of Pole Dancers and people with England flags fluttering from their car aerials. I was seventeen when I acquired my tattoo, I was a sailor and I had partaken of a few glasses of tikki hock.

Nowadays the law in the UK states that you can’t get a tattoo unless you are drunk that’s why 18 is the minimum age! I must also admit another snooty prejudice from when I was an employer. I interviewed a lad who was computer literate and eminently qualified for the job, he bemoaned the fact that he had been applying for jobs for months and couldn’t understand why he kept being turned down. The fact that he couldn’t see the reason why was enough for me to also turn him down. He had a spider’s web tattooed on his face and neck. I didn’t enlighten him and wonder if he ever got a job that didn’t involve emptying rubbish bins or mobile toilets.

Tattoo art is invariably awful. David Beckham looks more like an Iron Maiden album cover and as for Cheryl Cole/Fernandez-Versini/Tweedy apart from the cost of what she calls her rose tattoo, the pain must have been incredible. All I can think when I see a picture of it is “Does my arse look big in this tattoo?” Whatever you call it, it certainly isn’t art in the same manner of the great artists like Leonardo da Vinci, Van Gogh, and Monet. We know that they would apply their skill and dexterity to just about any surface; walls, ceiling, canvas, paper and often did, but not the human body. Mind you I wouldn’t put it past Tracy Emin but that still wouldn’t be art.

Look at the stereo-typical tattooist, eighteen stone of Hell’s Angel with most of B & Qs stockroom stuck through his ears and nose. Proper artists spend ages considering their approach to a work, photographing it, looking at views through squared fingers and discussing it. The Hell’s Angel will give a five minute consultation before producing a very painful, expensive doodle. I suppose the advantage of having such graffiti on one’s back is the fact that you can’t see it and it is only seen by very good friends. I have heard of a friend’s wife who had such an intense love for her Ferrari that she had a prancing horse tattooed just above her G-string. Now whenever she bends over people ask her why someone has drawn a donkey on her back. As usual its rubbish and she is stuck with it for life, as am I with the Springbok on my arm but at least I can relate the tale of the Zulu warrior with his sharpened bamboo stick.

I zigga zumba zumba zumba, I zigga zumba zumba zai 
I zigga zumba zumba zumba, I zigga zumba zumba zai

Hold him down you Zulu warrior 
Hold him down you Zulu chief
Hold him down you Zulu warrior
Hold him down you Zulu chief, chief, chief, chief

That’s the South African Boy Scout’s version which made my spell checker go wild. I also made a promise that I wouldn’t ever sing again and as I only know the tune for the Rugby song version which is far to rude for here, that’s all you are getting.

Cheerio and thanks for listening I’ll see you again next week


You know that you will enjoy it when you get there : @JakeTheWriter


This week’s Podcast from Jakethewriter retired travel writer and journalist, author and blogger talks about his lifelong aversion to parties or is it that he’s been a grumpy sod for the best part of his life?

You know that you will enjoy it when you get there

I had a big boy’s birthday last week, I’d reached such a great age that I didn’t wish to be reminded of it. All I wanted to do was ignore it and hope that it would pass unnoticed. What would life be like if parties had never been invented? Tents would still be used, but now solely for a place for Boy Scouts and campers to sleep.

We are not programmed to enjoy parties that much. Think; when you were little you liked your teddy and you liked your mother and father, but other children were the enemy. You were forced to go and sit quietly until one of your enemy’s mothers comes up and makes you join in. Then when you we older going through the “Rite of Passage” and another enemy’s mum finds you face down in her flower bed sometime around dawn. And then when you are married you get into huge trouble for dancing with the wrong girl, in the wrong way, for far too long! So there you have it, I’m not programmed to be a party goer but more to the point I’m not happy being old in the first place and I certainly have no wish to broadcast it. However as I am now so old I am now wise enough to know when I should do as I am told, especially when it is my dear wife ‘Pollyanna’ who is doing the telling.

Then number one son and his lovely wife announce that they would like to honour my great age by hosting a party for me. In fact it will give the game away as it is to be a “We can’t believe he’s eighty party”. Is it butter or margarine? Now my wife tells me “You will enjoy it”! Well she didn’t say that exactly she said “Come on you know you’ll enjoy it”! But I knew what she meant. She didn’t exactly lick her handkerchief before rubbing a non-existent smudge from my face before we left for the party but it was certainly reminiscent of long ago parties. Thinking on the way to my son’s house, I smile and think “Now that I’m old perhaps I’ll get to dance with the wrong sort of girl in the wrong way for too long” without getting a rollicking for it.

When we arrive at the party there are dozens of old friends and much loved relations there and I feel a bit overwhelmed. One who is part of my extended family and has been my son’s best friend since they were a mischievous seven years old. He’s now fifty five years old with middle age spread and a teacher at a local public school. I always call him my second son. There were some of the ‘Jolly Boys’ from my gym who rather puzzlingly appeared to be on their best behaviour.

There was my beautiful granddaughter with her husband and if that wasn’t enough to make me aware of my age there too was her younger brother, my 24 year old grandson. He was tippling ten year old straight malt whisky and expounding on its depth of flavour and later began tasting wine like a professional Sommelier. (My daughter told me later when they got him home he was chilling out on the carpet and in her bad books) I managed to convince her that this was a necessary “Rite of Passage” a ritual that everyone goes through to move on to the next stage of their life. Been there done that!

There were my late sister’s kids together with their lovely kids and the great thing about that is that those lovely kids have all turned into lovely adults. Yey! A party without children, someone must have realised that other children are the enemy. The party isn’t looking too bad now and I might get to dance with the wrong girl in the wrong way for too long! I’ve been making notes of likely lasses. Perhaps like my grandson I’ve gone through my own “Rite of Passage” and have gone through a transition and my change of status has moved on from my dislike of parties to actually enjoying them. I’ve not exactly become a party animal perhaps that will come later.

My celebrations haven’t yet finished because next Friday my favourite Niece has invited me to dine at my favourite Fish Restaurant in my favourite English village and whose menu costs a lot more than a whole book of stamps, all to celebrate my great age.

I keep telling anyone who will listen that old age begins fifteen years from now. Now where can I find the wrong lady to dance with in the wrong way for too long?

That’s it for today, thanks for listening; I’ll see you next week. God Bless!

It’s a bit late for PTSD : @JakeTheWriter

This week’s Podcast is a personal memory from Jakethewriter, Blogger, Travel Writer, Journalist and Author who thinks he is getting soft in his old age.

It’s a bit late for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

This is a fairly short blog because I have had a certain amount of difficulty writing it. It’s a bit more personal that my usual offerings. Some people go through life never having seen a dead body let alone touched one. Some people have never been in a situation so stressful that they will remember it the whole of their lives let alone give them sleepless nights, I envy them!

I don’t know what it is about me but when I look back at my life it seems rather like a broth of chaos. Before I was sixteen I stood on an armed merchantman in Korea as the ship unloaded equipment for our UN troops while the US fleet were offshore pounding seven bells out of the enemy in the hills above us. I stood mouth open watching shells that seemed the size of a double-decker bus streaking over our heads before erupting in huge explosions into the jungle. I won’t say I was scared, I was bloody terrified.

That same voyage I visited Hiroshima in Japan just a few years after it was decimated by “Little Boy” the atomic bomb dropped by an American Superfortress bomber. That introduced me to man’s inhumanity to man!

Later on, I stood on the bridge of a frigate, next to a shipmate, the ship rolled and a loaded Very flare Pistol slid across the chart table and accidentally fired. The phosphorous/magnesium flare shot him in the stomach. We helplessly watched him die in agony. The nightmare continued when we had to relive it through several Boards of Enquiry.

Another time I had to pull a close friend’s body out of his crashed glider. He had been training for a stunt glider competition and failed to complete the performance. My life carried on unlike his. At one time I had to pick up a severed human head and all I could think of was how heavy it was. On two separate occasions I have picked up a severed leg to remove it from the road. I just made ghoulish jokes to hide my horror.

Fifty years ago in 1966 I went with my team to give what help we could to what is now known as the ‘Aberfan disaster’, we got there two days after the tragedy and relieved some of the exhausted rescuers in their hunt for survivors at the Pantglas Primary School which had been totally engulfed by a coal slag heap that had towered over the town until it slipped down into the town. 85 children died in that school, in total 144 people were killed in the town that horrendous day, 116 of them were children. There were no ghoulish jokes, just anger and blame being thrown around. I had a few sleepless nights after that catastrophe but my life carried on.

I seem to have developed a hard casing over the years that have helped me put these sorts of memories out of my mind. I hardly ever talk about them and normally seal them up in my “not wanted on voyage” bag, perhaps to be stored in our loft of somewhere equally out of sight and out of mind. Last week another tragedy occurred, this time it was an earthquake in the mountains of central Italy, where the death toll was 240 and rising. Modern communications being what they are such scenes are becoming commonplace. Some manmade like Aleppo in Syria and others natural disasters like this one and we are possibly becoming inured to them.

I was watching on TV at the rescue efforts continuing in Amatrice hoping to find survivors; suddenly I watched the footage as a 10 year old girl was pulled alive from the rubble and I stopped breathing for a moment and in my mind saw the children’s bodies in Aberfan. A little boy and girl aged about six years’ old, holding hands even in death trying to comfort each other. The deputy head teacher was found dead, he was clutching five children in his arms as if he had been protecting them. I just burst into tears and began blubbing out my memories of Aberfan, just saying “the little boy and girl were holding hands”. My wife rushed across the room to hug and comfort me as I sobbed.

There are tears running down my cheeks as I’m typing this a week after my breakdown. Perhaps I should have kept this all to myself but I thought telling you might help to rid me of the Devil. Can someone suffer Post Traumatic Stress Disorder fifty years after the event? Don’t be daft! It’s just weakness in old age. Age shows no mercy.

Thanks for listening, see you next week.