On Tuesday night I went and got tattooed, something I’ve been wanting to do for about three years now. It’s crazy. Don’t tell my grand-mother. My ankle is swollen and red but I’m so happy about it I can’t stop gushing: I’m still living on the positively euphoric high which descended upon me about ten minutes after leaving the tattoo parlour.
I’ve been a fan of old-school, especially nautical style tattoos for so long and a first doodle of a tattoo idea first appeared in my sketchbook when I was, oh, 16 or so. I thought that it would be a really good test: if I still liked the design when I could legally get tattooed, then I would go for it.
No not quite me yet… image from here.
Time passed, and my enthusiasm waxed and waned at intervals. But I did keep on coming back to the same idea: an anchor and an ‘A’ in a serif font. Black ink. Rope. At some point in uni I thought that if I was going to do it I should do it at the end of my first year, since I was having such a bad time of it all. I definitely wanted to have it done in London and did a bit of Googling; for instance, I discovered the Happy Sailor tattoo parlour in Shoreditch. Then even more months later, when I still had a vague desire to get done but hadn’t actually done anything about it, my boy-friend pointed out that I might as well just go for it (bite the bullet, jump the gun) otherwise I’d spend the next three years pondering indecisively in the same manner as this.
To cut an already-long story a little shorter; the shop next door had been bought by a group of Hell’s Angels-emblazoned, biker jacket-sporting, Harley Davidson-riding men tattoo men from Brighton and was being converted into their own tattoo parlour. And a few weeks ago one of the (very friendly and super-super nice) Harley Davidson men walked into the shop to introduce himself properly and allow me to meet the two artists, Stephen and Rafael. Time was up: I’d procrastinated so long that a tattoo artist had physically walked through my front door. It was definitely a sign. I bit the bullet, jumped the gun, and booked an appointment (then turned up with a wodge of precise sketches). And since I don’t want to bore you any further, here is my left ankle post-tattoing:
It was done by Stephen at East Side Tattoo on the Bethnal Green Road, which is at the junction to Brick Lane (and right next door to the shop where I’m currently working.) He and my boy-friend sang happily along to Guns & Roses whilst I was sitting there with my teeth clenched in pain. (I’m a total wuss.)*
Everyone that works there is incredibly nice, very friendly, and clearly expert in their fields. This was really handy for me since I was pretty much clueless about everything that you could be clueless about. I didn’t ask about hygiene until my friend pointed it out. On that subject, it’s a very recently opened tattoo parlour so all the fittings are in equally ship-shape shape. Everything is sterilised, he changed gloves several times during the process, and the whole building smells like a dentist’s surgery. That hygienic, sterilised antibacterial odour.
I’d recommend it there without a doubt. As I’ve said, they are all really approachable and friendly – something which I found really comforting as part of the problem was that I’ve always been too intimidated to walk into a tattoo shop.
Their website is at www.e2tat2.com. Prices start from £40 for a small tattoo and rise to £80/hr for session work.
If you go, please tell them that I sent you!
*That made three firsts: first time to shave my leg, first time to be tattooed, and first time I’ve ever had to listen to guns&roses. They’re no Bessie Smitth, let me tell you.