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NICOLA MILLER: I think I’ll leave my body to nature

By Nicola Miller

Nicola Miller
Nicola Miller

One of the aimless ways I entertain myself with is by imagining what kind of tattoo I might like if I was in the market to have one, which I am not, despite the burgeoning number of tattooists in the St Edmundsbury region. What event or thing might I commemorate via multiple dermal injections of ink? Had I offered up my tender flesh to Colchester’s Tattoo Mick as a teenager, what would I now be looking at with a frown, trying to recall what might have made me think it was a great idea.

Imagine a tat which says “too fast to live, too young to die”, which I once saw on someone, and an understandable choice for a young adult with a galloping attitude. But if you end up living a life which sees you grow up, work and remain forever in one small town, being fast isn’t a quality the world would necessarily attribute to you. And when you are fifty odd and sporting a motto like that, you’re getting to the point where you aren’t (sadly) too young to depart this mortal coil. Reader, the label on your tin is no longer accurate. Even more interesting to me is the person who chooses a tat like this in their forties, something a person might do as a remodelling exercise, maybe? There’s something defiant about it, albeit futile, because that ship has sailed, my friend.

Some people really love their dogs and decide to have them immortalised, somewhere on their bodies. But what happens if, a few years later, said pet goes rogue and rips granny’s face off? Would I feel like remembering that lurcher/bichon frise/terrier every time I glanced down at its image, even if granny was quite frankly, a handful? Psychologically, it’d be like having the Chapman Brothers taking down the family Monet and turning it into their version of Hell, before returning it to you.

There’s other options in the top ten tattoo list. Kids names? I haven’t yet reached the point at which I forget mine so this might be a possibility later on, especially if I augment them with tats of random kids’ names under the RL ones so, after my death, my family can distract themselves from their searing grief wondering if I have secret love children stashed all over the place. But what if your child becomes a serial killer? I’m afraid my definition of unconditional love might not stretch to sporting the tat of a serial killer kid on my arm and even if I had it covered, I would know it was still there, lurking menacingly underneath, whispering, “you failed at parenting, you failed at parenting”.

Dolphin tats are out because of their sinister smiles which hide a sociopathic desire to fell you with a head butt whilst you frolic with them in the sea. A flower is another popular choice but they can risk resembling something out of a Poundland colouring book - okay if you don’t mind miscellaneous toddlers trying to colour you in, I suppose. Also, age related collagen loss, and its clever role as a biological skin trellis, means that rambling rose tat is going to mosey on unsupported, drooping into places where the sun doesn’t shine. And roses don’t do so well in the shade.

Remembering my YA tastes, and, if I had allowed Tattoo Mick near me, I might now be decorated with the faces of Lou Reed, Candy Darling or The Fall’s album art or a homage to Cornwall’s Elephant Fair (V popular with me in the 80s), motorbikes, mandalas I once saw in Ipswich’s Purple Shop and *leaves* ? It is possible that Bob Marley might be lurking somewhere, his Three Little Birds flying awkwardly above my left boob.

Tastes change and time will exert its steady push-me pull-me with regards to them. Do I envy the confidence and certainty of people who permanently decorate their bodies? Kind of. Am I like them? Nope. For this chronically indecisive person, the only irreversible marks on my body should be the scars, freckles and lines that nature and nurture have wrought upon it.


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