The rise of tattoos give me the right needle

JPCT 230414 S14171030x Blaise Tapp -photo by Steve Cobb SUS-140423-130729001

JPCT 230414 S14171030x Blaise Tapp -photo by Steve Cobb SUS-140423-130729001

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An Only Fools and Horses’ fan has shelled out £4,000 on a tattoo which covers every inch of his back and depicts the stars of his favourite tv programme. It really does take all sorts.

The inkwork adorning Darren Williams’ body took 50 hours to complete over the course of six weeks and this obvious ordeal has left me asking one simple question: why?

While this chap’s devotion to the nation’s most cherished comedy show might be admired by some it would not be unreasonable to ask whether he could have spent the money on a signed photograph of David Jason and I am sure he could have picked up a yellow Reliant Robin van for not much more than he paid the guy who adorned his body with the face of Buster Merryfield, among others.

Apart from a brief yearning in the 1990s to have an Indian chieftain branded on my chest rather like football’s pantomime villain Eric Cantona, I have never been a fan of tatts. It now seems that I might soon be among the minority as everywhere you look today there is someone sporting a piece of body art.

I was brought up to believe that anyone with a tattoo, especially one you could see, was to be avoided and chaps with panthers, swifts and spiders on their necks were most definitely jailbirds.

Nowadays you can watch fellas with inked necks earn millions of pounds a year from playing in the Premier League and I have bought a sandwich from a lass with a flower scribbled behind her ear.

When my pals started getting tattoos it was often done as an act of rebellion or a hallmark of their individuality but that can no longer be the case if millions of others, including grannies and vicars have them, can it?

While there are no reliable financial figures available, tattoos are clearly a booming business and every reasonable sized town has at least one parlour and in America one in five adults claim to have gone under the needle. Icons such as David Beckham, who has the best part of 40 all over his body, have enabled tattoos to become mainstream and, perhaps more importantly, respectable.

How long before we have a Prime Minister with an anchor on his (or her) forearm? It won’t be long I am sure and you can bet that nobody will bat an eyelid.

Perhaps the main reason why I haven’t acted on the urges of my juvenile years is my 93-year-old grandad. He got inked in his teens at the start of the Second World War courtesy of a comrade by the name of Taff and he has regretted it ever since - wearing a jacket even in the middle of the summer in a bid to hide them.

I could not tell you what the 75-year-old artwork depicts as they have long become greeny blue blobs.

Granted, tattoos have come a hell of a long way since the early 1940s but it is not an easy thing to correct if you change your mind. Especially if you have Del Boy’s mush on your back.