Something’s been needling me…

Part of the reason for starting this blog was to stop putting stuff off. I was going to ‘be more present’, more productive and stop looking for excuses not to do things. It’s having the desired effect because last week, after 17 years of thinking about it, I finally got inked. No one can accuse me of rushing in.

Fudoshin Tattoos on George Lane, South Woodford
B hasn’t said much. He doesn’t have to. Beyond the shrugs and the ‘it’s your body, you can do whatever you like with its,’ my husband’s wry expressions tell me everything I need to know about his suspicions of a midlife crisis. Maybe he’s right, tomorrow is, after all, my 37th birthday meaning another year now sits between me and the good old days. But I don’t think it’s a last clutch at disappearing youth. A present to myself it may have been, but the two bees now permanently etched on my left wrist represent so much more. Like I said, I’ve wanted them for ages. Mainly, I held off because I worried I’d get bored of the design, or that they might do a shit job. Not forgetting the classic ‘how will you feel about it when you’re 70?’ question everyone always asks.

Fudoshin tattooist Matt Charles at work on my wrist
But as the buzz of the needle vibrated against my bone, I felt satisfied the image we’d tweaked several times before test-transferring onto my wrist, was The One. If it didn’t look quite as good when I was 70, well, I’d get a good 30 years of love out of it until then. Besides, I’d hope my 70-year-old self would have moved on with her values.

Freshly inked
So why the two bees? One of the reasons I’m so sure I won’t tire of them is because they’re symbolic on a number of levels. When I first wanted them done it was because my family come from a small village on the North West coast of England called St. Bees. It’s the place that will forever be ‘home’. Now I have two other significant Bs in my life they take on a double meaning. Plus, there’s my eternal fascination with the Bombus Horotum, aka, the common garden worker bee, so, whenever I look at them, I’ll be reminded of the benefit of working together for the greater good.

Bottom left: my Bs in the Irish Sea on St. Bees beach. The rest: views of St. Bees village in Cumbria
Before entering the salon (Pinterest boards on phone, biro doodle on skin) I thought about another type of needle I’d been meaning to make acquaintances with for a similar duration. You might remember me saying previously that I’d never, but always intended to, give blood. Well, there and then I vowed that this would be the next box ticked. Foolishly, I didn’t realise that you aren’t able to do it within four months of getting a tattoo (should have checked first) but I’m a step closer having booked an appointment for July.

The completed bees
The bees took under an hour to sketch and were less painful than I’d expected – in spite of me picking a particularly fleshless part of my anatomy to have them on. I’d put it up there with how it felt to get your hair highlighted back in the nineties. Individual strands yanked through a rubber cap: bearable if not wholly pleasant. But then, I’m hardened from childbirth (a smirk from Matt my tattooist told me that’s what all the mums say).

For the next 24 hours there was a dull burning, similar to the way my belly button piercing felt when it healed (not that I’ve got anything to show for that but a hole these days). And an itch that was very hard not to scratch. But again, nothing a couple of paracetamol wouldn’t take the edge off. And, as the scabs crust and fall nearly a week later, I’m excited to see the end result. Little B was non-plussed when I first peeled back the cling film. But when it transpired I was getting the cold shoulder because, having taken her to the original consultation, she’d expected to come with me for the inking itself (I did it while she was at school), her tepid reaction made sense.

March was a good month for me for getting stuff done. Tattoo aside, I went to the Hockney exhibition at Tate Britain, got commissioned by magazines and websites I don’t normally write for, I even went to a new restaurant that had just opened in our hood. More and more I’m finding that being proactive and not dwelling on potential negative outcomes makes life better. Doing stuff trumps not doing stuff, even if a little voice in your head can reel off a couple of reasons to the contrary.

Hanging out at the Hockney exhibition with friends at Tate Britain
If 2016 taught me anything it’s that life is too unpredictable not to take the chances and do the dances. I would LOVE this post to inspire you to do something you’ve been putting off however tiny, too. I have no regrets about my ink. Maybe I will at some point, but frankly I’d rather regret the things I did than those I didn’t. And even B, through his forced smile and gentle ribbing has to agree with that.

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Lyndsey Gilmour

Lyndsey Gilmour is an entertainment and lifestyle journalist. She's also a wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend, feminist and ex-procrastinator.

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