Saturday, 30 August 2014
Hypersensitive? Try tattoo cream
You can't generalise about people. I told my mother thus after my second Tattoo Convention. But they look so scary, she said. But honestly, I said. Everyone I've met has been so nice. You never know, if you asked someone about them, they might be really pleased to tell you their story.
I went to Spitalfields Market today and I didn't get what I wanted. Nothing I wanted. So I sat in a coffee shop and felt a little bit sad. Then I went on my way, before I spent the money I'd set aside for the purpose. As I headed back towards Liverpool Street station, I saw a very pretty lady sporting the perfect rockabilly style. She was a delight: magnificently swept up hair, held high with a shock of red blossoms; high-waisted jeans, and nipped-in blouse showing arms carved from tattooed alabaster.
As I passed her I caught her eye and smiled - warmly, the way I do. 'I just want to admire your arms!' I said, 'your tattoo work is so beautiful!'
'Awww,' she replied - a good start - but then came the metaphorical kidney-punch: 'It's a bit weird, though, isn't it, stopping someone on the street to admire their tattoos.'
It was a statement. Not a question.
'Is it?' I said, then added, 'well, I shan't then, if you'd rather I didn't. But they're very lovely, anyway.' And the encounter was over.
Is it? I go to London fairly often, especially during the Globe season. I like to dress up and look pretty - fifties style, funnily enough, like her. Dozens of people stop me and tell me I look nice. Some ask to take my picture. Most of the time I don't feel very attractive, and I'm certainly not young - so quite often I am touched by this almost to the point of tears. So today, I wanted to pay it forward. I saw a pretty young woman who had taken great care over her appearance, in a way that was elegant and edgy. It backfired: c'est la vie. I wanted to be philosophical, even though I had the feeling of having been bitten by a puppy. I didn't cry, or anything, I'm a grown woman; but as I emerged from London Bridge tube station, a dead town crier held out a London Dungeon leaflet to me and said, 'Have you had an electric shock?' (This, I should explain, for any one who does not follow me on Instagram, was on account of my notoriously tousled, um, 'hairstyle'. Post-coital is perhaps the best description.)
I looked him in the eye. Looking past his pallid, bloodied complexion. 'Street drunks say that to me. You're unoriginal, at best.'
'No, I like it. You're - look at your nails! They're really long - are they real? Oh no - they're not are they? They're fake. You know, you look like - '
'Who? Who do I look like? You've had two shots at me now. What's your third? Come on - bring it! What have you got left?'
He paused, and looked me up and down. 'You look like - no, you're too young to remember.'
He put out one finger and touched my arm. 'Dzzzzt,' he said gently. 'Have you - no. You won't have heard of Twisted Sister.'
'Dee Snider! I was expecting Mötley Crüe, or Whitesnake!' Or Billy Idol, I added silently. But thank you for thinking me too young, I added, also silently. Out loud, I told him what had just happened, with the pretty lady.
Oh no, he said, We're not like that in London. That was mean, he said. We're friendly here.
She was Northern, I said, and he beamed. 'Ah! You see? Londoners wouldn't ever say a thing like that! You were trying to be nice - Northerners, they don't get it...'
I wasn't about to be drawn on that one. After all, you can't generalise about people. Some of them are just -
So anyway, I smiled at the dead Town Crier - warmly, the way I do. 'Nice chatting to you. Don't go letting your mouth talk you into any more trouble today.'
Or mine, for that matter.