I am his cheerleader and champion.
Might as well publish it here!
No words, really. We got married in July 2010 at the Honourable Artillery Company in London. I’m not going to trot out some trite drivel about weddings days – ultimately, they are the best of times, and they are massively tiring. There are as many experiences of wedding days as there are fish in the sea, so there is little point in my pontificating about such a personal and unique experience.
And these pictures are by the talented Ben:
This one by Lex:
This by gorgeous Anna (bottom right) – thanks to 3 of our friends (Jenn, Agata and Rose) who travelled over oceans for our wedding. I miss you!:
There is huge pressure to make your wedding ‘unique’ and quirky – ‘vintage’ style is becoming the new mainstream. In a few years there will be a backlash against the current style and everything will about turn in some other direction. Honestly – it’s one day, and while it’s really special and personal, the thing that matters most is your marriage, not what your brief party looks like.
I know from reading a massive amount of wedding blogs (er, yeah, I’m still reading them… and what?) that so many people after the event feel that somehow their wedding wasn’t good enough and doesn’t look glamorous enough in the photos. But seriously, does (and should) your entire wedding revolve around getting featured on a fucking wedding blog or magazine? More fool you, then. I think our wedding was bloody marvellous, thanks – everyone said it was the best wedding they’d ever been to! I declined to have it featured on that blog, too.
We did some other things nobody really got great photos of: vegan cakes, transfer tattoos we made (seen above on Rose), sweet jars, some cultural education by way of table names, and the sickest manicures you ever did see.
But then I accidentally ate most of the rhinestones on my nails. “I accidentally ate it all” can probably be applied universally to the whole experience. Yup.
This film has stuck with me for a decade: probably just because I’m a wimp?
Image by unknown, because 8,000 people reblogged it on Tumblr:
Bike design in the bathroom, via Re-Nest:
Hey, it’s a maned wolf! The only member of the Chrysocyon genus, which is a very distinct canid. Not a fox, dog, wolf, or coyote. Weird, eh?
This will make your heart hurt. Lilly the Great Dane is blind. She has a guide dog called Maddison, and they need rehoming together. Did you ever hear of a blind dog getting a guide dog? No mean feat adopting two such large dogs, one of which with special needs. I really hope someone with lots of room will be able to give them a new loving home:
And we seem to have come to a natural end here.
O HAI. Y U NO UPDATE IN SIX MONTHS?
Big lifestyle changes = getting our little Boston terrier puppy, Batman. More on that later.
Good stuff I found recently:
Lovely gum packages from Blue Q:
Cute bird clips from MyDeco:
Incredibly beautiful older lady, from Advanced Style blog:
Iittala’s classic Kastehelmi Collection in grey. Designed by Oiva Toikka:
Moomin trays, from Cloudberry Living:
Planet Blue’s new holiday campaign, check out that amazing eye makeup (can you say magpie?):
Martha Stewart’s wildflower ice cubes are killing it:
It’s the Henry Rollins whiteboard! WHUT?
Um, how do you follow that? With the ridiculously expensive Stanhope teapot from Anthropologie!:
And these Seven Deadly Sins plates from Trixie Delicious on Etsy. Quite lovely:
See you in another six months, eh?
I’ve had this in draft for over a month now – time to go, self-involved psychobabble: be free! (Bear with my essay-writing here – there is a bittersweet ending…. and hey, I stopped freaking out too!)
This is difficult to write. I am starting this 10 days (9 May 2011) after getting tattooed, and I intend for it to be an account documenting my relationship with, and changing reaction to, a specific tattoo of mine. I aim to keep it in draft and add to it as and when my thoughts crystallize towards the tattoo on my arm. I’ll post it in its entirety when I feel I have reached some kind of conclusion. It is now 12 June – a month later, and I’m sure I have that. In fact, I love my tattoo now. But why write this?
- Partly because, due to having a very strange relationship with tattoos on myself, I’ll probably feel this way again in the future (I can’t imagine not getting any more tattoos), and I need to look back on my own thoughts for reassurance the next time I do this to myself.
- Partly because I know that there are other people that must go through the same process of shock and desperation while they’re getting to used to/regretting a tattoo.
- I don’t really have ‘body issues’. I’m not being conceited here, but aside from hating my own butt, like many women do, and sometimes feeling like my face is too birdy and my eyes are a bit big, I just don’t. I won’t apologise for that. So now that I have/had a ‘body issue’ (albeit entirely self-inflicted and somewhat, er, relatively without perspective), it’s quite a novel emotion.
- To reinforce that it’s not just drunken or trashy morons with crap taste in tribal or cartoon characters that consider getting a tattoo removed or partially removed. People like me, who already have other [good] tattoos and wait/travel for custom work from a respected artist, also have mad freak-outs.
- How many people do you personally know who’ve admitted and documented doubts about their tattoo? You only read accounts of tattoo removal after lasering has started. I think there’s a certain amount of bravado around tattoo collectors (by this, I mean people that get work by prestigious tattooists). So much so that few people admit that they don’t like the background to their sleeve… they didn’t research what something was really meant to look like in great enough depth so it’s not quite true to reality… or that getting something at a convention was really rushed and the dude really should have redrawn that. Or even that it took them a month to stop regretting a massive new piece. Nobody likes to admit that they made a mistake, or point out their own imperfections.
I love tattoos. My husband is fairly heavily tattooed (sleeve, back, calves, shin), and so are my friends. I love women with tattoos – Theo Kogan, Beatrix Von Bourbon, Sabina Kelley are all just about the hottest ladies on the planet to my mind. If you follow awesome vintage beauties The Freelancer’s Fashion Blog and The Mysterious Life of the Metropolitan ex-Housewife, or the ever inspiring punkrock food blogger Bake & Destroy, you’ll know that not only are they incredibly stylish and accomplished women, they are tattooed. On their arms. Which looks amazing. (Not to diminish any of these ladies’ intellectual, professional or social achievements here, but I’m an aesthete, and you might have noticed that this blog’s getting rather full of stuff I like looking at, rather than stuff I actually do or think. And this here is a reaction to what I’ve changed about my own appearance. Whether or not you think that’s vain is immaterial to me, this is about MY brain and body together.)
And so it follows that as I adore tattoos, and I don’t work in a job where it’d seem to be a problem, it was about time to get visible tattoos. What’s the point of having pretty pictures on you if nobody else can see them? I’m on my third tattoo – but my first one that can be seen with short sleeves.
(PEELING STILL = ew.) I do think this tattoo is beautiful, it’s very meaningful to me, and I know many people would covet it, especially given the artist, but… it’s fucking massive. And it’s really dark. And, essentially, it’s not exactly what I wanted (some elements are different), and that seems the hardest factor for me to get over. I’ve mainly been really mad at myself, and people keep telling me that I’m being too hard on myself. It’s a novelty for me – I don’t generally do stuff that I know to be wrong, or dumb (does anyone really sit and think “yeah, this is really stupid. I’ll do it”?), so when I do (or think I have, until I’ve seen the light), I have no idea how to handle my feelings toward myself. (See also: moving to Sheffield.)
When I booked this, I stressed that it could be no bigger than 6″ x 3.5″. It was intended to fit under an elongated short sleeve (yeah, pardon? Like this). It doesn’t. It comes to my elbow. This is my horse Danny (Sixpenny King) and he was meant to be wearing his crown, and have six pennies attached to his bridle. Obviously, he isn’t and doesn’t. When I was first shown it, it was 15% bigger, so would have come down past my elbow. Reducing the scale proved quite easy, but that was the limit – and then I had to try my transfer on. I tried asking for the ribbons to be removed but I just let myself get steamrollered into agreeing to the size of it, possibly because I had travelled 600 miles for it and waited months for my appointment. For several nights (possibly weeks, actually), I’d been worrying about how big it was going to get drawn up, and kept telling myself, “if it’s too big, I’ll just make him do it on my ribs”. Man, I did not stick to that, and I didn’t stand my ground in the slightest. This is quite unlike me.
My initial reaction
For the first three days (mainly when it was wrapped in clingfilm over the Bank Holiday Monday), I wasn’t bothered about my tattoo. I thought it quite novel and rather cool, but mainly I just wanted the bastard to stop hurting and I hated having to sleep in clingfilm.
Then, by the time I went back to work on the Tuesday, I was convinced that it was the ugliest thing that I’d ever seen and:
- Why have I done this to my arm?
- Why have I got any tattoos at all? Do I even like tattoos? Don’t get any more, you moron! Better rethink the feet plan. Certainly can’t get the blackened machines I was thinking of…
- Why have I ruined my arm? It was very slender and fair before and now I have this massive dark tattoo on it, and look at all those women in Vogue or Lula that don’t have tattoos. Look at their pristine arms. I miss my flawless arm! I’ll never be able to wear sleeveless shirts again.
- How am I going to hide this from my parents for the rest of my life?
- Nobody I admire in the public eye has such a thing.
- And it’s not what I wanted!
- And horse tattoos are camp! I might as well have got a rainbow glittery unicorn: it’s that camp.
- What will I look like at age 50?
- People are judging me. I’ll never wear a sleeveless dress at work again.
- What do I do if my sister gets married and I have to wear a longsleeve dress at a summer wedding?
In week one
I continued to panic at work, being really depressed and withdrawn. I obsessed over different removal methods. I researched and researched, trying to find before and after photos for various methods. I got depressed every time I thought about how long it’ll take me to remove my tattoo, and whether I’ll scar (the pain doesn’t really bother me, isn’t that odd?). Would I prefer having a scar than a tattoo? I frantically searched for pretty tops and dresses that would be cool in the summer and yet cover my tattoo. They do exist, yes!
I found myself wishing, as I very rarely do, that there was such thing as a time machine, and if I’d just done this differently then everything would be bearable. I recounted all the nightmares I’ve had about having huge tattoos in inappropriate places and then trying to get them lasered off within a few hours. (Apparently, in my bad dreams, if you get it while it’s fresh it’s like it never happened. Bullshit, obviously). I was worried about how similar my feelings were to those I had in nightmares, and thought that I might still be asleep. But no, it was real, and I lived in a waking nightmare about being stuck with something that I felt was ill-thought out, ugly and silly. And worse, unfeminine. I thought about the money I’d spent on my tattoo and the trip to get it. Then I thought about the money it’d cost to remove it, and what a frivolous expenditure when we’ve saved for a house deposit for so long. And I cried a lot, because I had done something stupid and now I was going to pay (indeed, financially) for it. And the reason we moved to Sheffield was so that we could afford a much better standard of living, so what’s the point of leaving London (and the job opportunities) to buy a house up here if I’m just going to piss money up the wall doing dumb shit to myself and then getting it removed?
I also thought a lot about getting my whole tattoo removed, or at least faded a great deal, so that I could get something more colourful there. I decided that having a tattoo on my arm wasn’t the issue, but that it was too long and too dark. I figured maybe I’d have the ‘peeking parts’ removed – ribbons and crown, and then brighten up the upper part with pastel old-school 5-line stars around his head.
On the Friday afternoon, I tried to visit a micro-pigmentation salon that works with Rejuvi – hoping to find out more about its results. Rejuvi is a cream that is tattooed in and then activates your body’s immune system, attaching to the ink and causing your body to force the whole foreign body out in a big scab. I’ve read that the aftercare is quite intense – not getting it wet for a few weeks, then thoroughly protecting the scab – and many people admit that they don’t follow the wound aftercare and pick at it, etc. It does leave a red scar that fades after 6-12 months, but again, many people appear to be really impatient and are complaining that they’re scarred a month after having it. Well, duh, wait a bit! I’d love to hear from those people who complained initially whether their scar has indeed faded or disappeared altogether after that time.
Having phoned first, with no answer or voicemail, we walked to this micropigmentation shop near our house, and found it to be closed. Whether it’s permanently closed, I don’t know. Its website is still operational. Perhaps they’re on holiday?
In that week I also booked an appointment for the following Monday with sk:n clinics, to have a consultation about laser removal. Hasty, me?
On the Friday evening, we went out in Sheffield to a couple of bars, the Great Gatsby and Old No. 7. I wore a cap-sleeved sixties dress that exposed my tattoo and didn’t feel bad about it. I felt really glad that I hadn’t done it on the outside of my arm though. Over that weekend, I agreed to myself (and Matt, although he’d never ask such a thing of me) that I would live with my tattoo until at least the end of June.
I also quite definitely decided that I would never want my whole tattoo removed, but that if it was just a bit smaller I’d be really happy. So I figured finding out whether it’s possible to remove the crown and ribbons would be a good idea, as would finding out whether I had problem colours (yellow and blue) or skin, and how much time and money it’d take.
Week 2 and my sk:n clinic consultation
On the Monday evening (9 days after getting my tattoo), I went for my consultation at the sk:n clinic on Psalter Lane, five minutes from my house. I filled out a form about my health conditions before seeing the therapist. Of course, I brought the boy along too for moral support.
The lady therapist that I saw was really professional, knowledgeable and, importantly, non-judgmental. I heard myself explaining that I did actually like my tattoo a lot and I wasn’t sure that I wanted even part of it removed, but that I felt it was just 2″ too long and I know this is hasty but how much would it cost to have this part removed. Oh really? Did I say those things? Yes, yes I did. And I feel that I meant them too.
She told me how much it would cost per session to remove that aspect – £85 per session, since it’s a minor area of about 2″ square. Then she advised that the longer you leave it between laser treatments (she recommended 8-12 weeks), the more effective it is, since it maximises the time that your body takes to do its own work in carrying away the shattered ink fragments. I didn’t know this. Having researched other blogs about tattoo removal (surprisingly thin on the ground), people were leaving 4 weeks between treatments, anxious to get the tattoo out as soon as possible. But it turns out that’s not really the best way at all – it costs more and it’s ineffective because it doesn’t give your body enough time to do its own cleaning work.
But the therapist also told me that they’d have no idea how long it’d take to remove my crown and ribbons, or whether the pigments would mutate (white in particular can turn black, yellow is difficult to remove). I was also told that even knowing what inks a tattooer used doesn’t help – you can only see how each colour will react once you have a patch test. She said sometimes you can see a huge difference after 3 sessions, or that you could wait two months after a treatment for the ink to be dispersed by your immune system but it doesn’t look like it’s had an effect, yet another month later (still without treatment) the body has suddenly made a big step in removing the ink itself.
Pleasingly, because I said I wasn’t 100% sure about having it removed, she encouraged me to live with my ink for a significant period. After all, laser treatment will always be there. My tattoo will be there as long as I want it, until (and if) I decide to get rid of it. To me, this is really telling – sk:n clinics aren’t eager to push you into treatments unless you really want them. There’s no sales pitch, and they aren’t pushy. The lady just gave me all the information she could, and was honest when she couldn’t answer (ie, number of treatments it’d take). She also advised that because I wasn’t sure about removal, that they could do a really small test patch, rather than starting to break down the whole area. That’s so good to know.
In week three:
After going to see the laser people, almost all desire disappeared to remove any part of my tattoo. Why? Because, I suppose, I finally felt like it was there out of choice. Choice because I know that I can remove it, should I want to… I’m not stuck with it. Financially, I may be, but psychologically, not so much. We continued to go out, see our lovely neighbours, go see a few bands in Sheffield and Leeds, and I continue to feel not just ok about it, but pretty cool. Yeah, I feel ‘cool’. I am that vain. I like my horse tattoo. It took me a while, huh?
I think I also realised that I’m not going to change that much between now and ‘when I am old’. As a 17-year-old, I thought I would be ‘old’ at 28, and that I might be a different person. I am not (although I am arguably less of a prat). These things that I have accrued – husband, red hair, fat ass, career direction, hilarious taste in clothes – are not things that will ever really leave me: we will change and evolve together. And I’m sure that’s how I’ll continue to feel about this tattoo, I will be a funny-looking but cool 50-year-old with amazing kids and rad dogs, like that older lady who sells rockabilly fascinators on Broadway Market.
Week four and beyond:
A month after getting this piece, I found out my horse, Danny, would be put to sleep after a really hard winter, in which he’s just really struggled at life. Summer is also really hard for him, he is really miserable and he’s not put on any weight since last year. He looks poor. He can’t even have his feet trimmed because he cannot stand on three legs for the farrier (if you know anything about horses, you’ll know that this is the beginning of the end). My mum and dad see him every day: my dad’s recently permanently returned from working midweek in Bristol and did question my mum on whether it really was right to have him put out of pain just because he is very old, but since seeing Danny every day, he also thinks it’s time.
We bought Danny when I was 13 and had many a great year winning lots of events, usually at great speed and slightly out of control. He had a massive attitude towards everything, even just hanging out to graze with his buds in the field he marched everywhere in a strop, was really naughty to lead anywhere (I had to go fetch him in with a bridle instead of a headcollar), once ripped the muscle in my arm and has left with me with a permanent dimple (nerve damage) in my right thigh from when he kicked me to somewhere in the vicinity of kingdom come. You go ON with your bad self, Daniel-son. He remained with my family until the end of his days because we never wanted to pass him onto people that might not understand and appreciate what a special and badly-behaved git he was. He was the only remaining progeny of Nickel King, and half-brother to Mary King‘s world champions King William and King Boris.
Saying goodbye to him was one of the saddest things I’ve done. I can’t imagine not having him tattooed on my arm now.
So that’s why this psychological journey and its documentation was, for me, a exercise in self-reflection and, ultimately, coming to terms with loss.
I think fundamentally, my problem was never with the design of my tattoo. Did I mention I really love it now? I think I just shocked the crap out of myself by getting something that I can see out of the corner of my eye all the time, and dealing with the concept of tattoo visibility on my own body. It brings a certain degree of self-awareness, and attention from other people, that you just don’t get when tattoos are hidden.
Since I can’t really stay on one theme for long, it’s back to fashion (er, baking, punk rock? What?). Or rather “clothes I like” which isn’t really fashion to me, but occasionally they seem to coincide with what’s “on trend” so…. fashion by accident.
I don’t really give a crap about being ‘in fashion’ (have you seen the state of me?), but it so happens that my tastes are presently intersecting with the mainstream. It makes clothes I like much easier to get, but it also means every bugger gets in on my sartorial act. So that just means that you have to show some love to your old favourite indie brands in order to keep yourself a bit different. (Or pay a bit more for exclusivity and foreign shipping.)
And on to my point! (Wow, took a long time getting to that one, didn’t I?) Given that this here blog has quite limited readership, I don’t really mind sharing my secret treasure troves. Label love, in no particular order (more to come someday soon…)
Vivetta is Italian. It’s a little expensive, but it’s gorgeous.
Nadinoo is from the UK, hooray! Designed by Nadia Izruna from Lancashire, I think they’re now based out of Manchester. These photos are from the website, but they are taken by Tommy of pretty blog, thisisnaive.
When is the online store coming?! Well worth a trip to Austria for her shops alone, I’m sure. Hiya bankruptcy. These photos are Autumn Winter 2010 collection (a standout season, in my opinion) borrowed from various sources but all are photographs by Lupi Spuma.