I don’t have any tattoos. I don’t even wear jewellery of any kind. Adornments are at an absolute minimum. I wear glasses because I have to, and I get my hair cut because otherwise my head gets really heavy and I fall over.

Tattoos are pretty big these days. Literally and figuratively. Here are my thoughts.

I don’t really understand anyone who gets a tattoo on a whim, or based on some inevitably fleeting desire, joke, or liaison.

By which I mean of course I understand, we’re all human, and that shit is inevitable – but I couldn’t do it myself. If I am going to mark my body in a permanent way, I would absolutely have to spend hours/days/weeks planning it in excruciating detail. I’d have to trust the artist with my life. The theme, design, message, colours, placement, all planned to perfection.

Even then, even once I was happy that it was/there were absolutely perfect, and summed me in with a succinct, poignant grace that left onlookers breathless and tearful, even then I would equivocate. Sure – it sums up the first 38 years of my life with something approaching perfection, but what about the next 38? What if I end up really hating Tom and Jerry? Then that image of the former chasing the latter up a ladder running the length of my calf would suddenly seem much less awesome.

I wouldn’t really get a Tom and Jerry tattoo.

If I got a tattoo, here’s what I’d do.

I’d get four*. Earth, Air, Fire and Water.

For Earth, I would get blades of grass and wildflowers growing from the edge of my feet up my ankle. Keep my feet on the ground. In this case, a meadow of some kind. Of course every flower has a history, a meaning, a mythological and/or romantic and/or medicinal connection, so I’m sure I could work in something subtle there.

Air. The obvious image would be wings on the shoulderblades, although I’m not entirely convinced. Also I would never see them, which may or may not matter I suppose.

Animals tend to provide us with strong, simple symbology. Lions are brave, foxes are cunning, bears are strong. It’s always amused me that owls get to be a symbol of sober wisdom and death on silent wings. So maybe owl wings.

Fire. So, dragons are a thing. They are probably the most iconic image of the genre that I love more than any other – fantasy. A genre that has given me endless enjoyment, and indeed gainful employment. Cheesy? Cliche? Yes and yes. But important nonetheless.

Dragons are also an inescapable element of Eastern mythology, and martial arts. A slightly different kind of dragon.

Inside of my forearms, I was thinking. Breathing flame towards my hands. A creative energy heading towards my fingertips.

Water. I would like to have a circle of lapping waves around my neck. My head is above water, and it should stay there. This is probably my favourite idea, and that’s why I refuse to Google image search it, because I can’t possibly be the first one to think of it.

And that’s what I would do, if I ever had the money and inclination to get a tattoo.

*I know, or rather heard once on a talk show, that even numbers are unlucky. So maybe Tom and Jerry get their moment to shine after all.

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