Coming to visit…?

As a lot of you lovely folks travel some way to come to Revenant, we thought we’d make it a little easier for you to know the transport options before you set off.

Our beautiful Bridlesmith Walk

Where is the studio?

At street level, you will finr Rogue Piercing first. Revenant is located within the same building, so introduce yourself to the lovely team there and we’ll get your appointment underway. If you’re coming from the Lace Market car park, tram stop, or Hockley direction, look for the Ibis Hotel, and walk down the passage at the side of it. Go down the stairs and you’ll see Rogue Piercing on the left.

If you’re coming from the Broad Marsh or Market Square direction, you’ll want to find Bridlesmith Gate (it’s a very colourful street, with lots of gorgeous boutiques). You’ll see L’Occitane and 101 Vintage, and you’ll see the entrance to Bridlesmith Walk between them. Head up the covered walkway, and we’re the last shop on the right, at the bottom of the stairs.

Train: We are a 5-10 minute walk from Nottingham train station. Leave the station, follow signs for the city centre, and walk uphill until you find us! You can also take the tram, which is just one stop…

Tram: You can take the tram from the station, park and ride or elsewhere in the city. Lace Market is the stop you need. When you alight, look for the Ibis Hotel, and walk down the passage at the side of it. Go down the stairs and you’ll see Rogue Piercing on the left.


Car: The closest car park is Lace Market. It’s very convenient, however it is a city centre multi-storey, so it is pricey (around £15 per day) and is very tight- so best avoided if you have a large vehicle!

Alternatively, there is on-street parking in a nearby area called Sneinton/St. Annes. Postcode NG3 2DN. It is around £2 per day, and it’s a lovely 10-15 minute walk through Sneinton Avenues and Hockley (well worth a visit if you have some extra time, or a companion with you who wants a look around) .


You will need the RingGo app, so make sure you download it before you arrive.




Park and Ride: There are a few park and rides that can be helpful to use. Find more information on the one that suits you best here-


If you get lost, or are struggling on the day, please call reception at Rogue Piercing on 0115 670 1609 . The lovely team there will be happy to guide you in!


Thank you so much for making the trip to Revenant!


How to choose a safe tattoo studio…

…amidst the apocalypse, but also in saner times…

What to look for in a hygienic tattoo studio, and why is this important?

Choosing a tattoo studio that upholds high levels of hygiene is vital to protect your health. This is an every-prevalent issue, and in the age of Covid-19, especially important!

I know these aspects of tattooing aren’t as glamourous as the beautiful artwotrk created, but receiving a tattoo is a life experience, and should be a joyous one, that doesn’t leave you feeling uneasy.

Alas there are still many studios operating who take very little care over this, and if each person takes responsibility for their own health and safety by choosing a studio that is responsible and progressive about hygiene, then the standards will be raised across the board.

A true professional will take time and care over the fine details in every aspect of their craft.

“Integrity is doing the right thing; even when no one is watching”

C.S. Lewis

If a tattoo is carried out in an unhygienic manner, there are risks to the client such as blood borne diseases, infections and scarring (ass well as risks to the practitioner themself). I want to help you feel informed and ready to make a choice of studio you can be confident in. So here’s a few things you should know…


You can tell a lot about a tattoo studio by having a really good look at the space there.

Is it really clean? Is it tidy? Would you be happy to have a clinical procedure done in this space? Do you feel comfortable in this space?

Feel free to ask your artist or a member of the team at the studio to show you around (when they are not busy with another client of course!) . Your consultation will be an ideal time to do this- time to meet the artist, ask any questions you have and check out the studio space. Do not be afraid to ask any questions you may have- a good studio will always be happy to oblige to put you at ease.

There should be hand washing facilities readily available in each area, and a whole lot of high-potency (80% +) alcohol hand gel around the studio.

Also a ready supply of PPE such as masks, gloves, aprons and visors being used correctly is a MUST in these times of contagion.

What kind of questions to ask…?

Licensing and training

Is the studio/artist licensed? The law is different in each area so check out the laws in your county.

Do they have insurance? Public and employee liability, as well as specialist professional insurance/

Do they have any further training such as 1st aid or blood borne pathogen training? These are not essential but will certainly put you in good hands.

Sterilisation and disposables

Your chosen studio should ensure that all tools are clean and sanitary. All needles should be single-use in pre-sterile packets. The tubes used (the part that supports the needle) should ideally be medical-grade pre-sterile, and disposable. It is likely that your artist will set these up in front of you on the day, but by all means ask about it first.

Autoclaves are used to sterilise any non-disposable items. They work by exposing the items to very high temperature and pressure steam. In order to be effective, there must be a thorough decontamination and preparation procedure done on the tools first. The autoclave itself must be a medical standard category B vacuum autoclave, and it must be tested every day and cycle, and serviced regularly. A good studio will take pride in it’s sterilisation suite and will be happy to show your their records and explain their systems.


Prevention is better than cure!

Thorough wrapping of equipment prevents cross-contamination.

Infection control measures during a tattoo procedure are easy to spot.

Surfaces- All surfaces should (work station, tattoo couch, tattoo machines, arm rests, cables, bottles etc) with an impermeable barrier. Cling film, plastic baggies, and specialist plastic products will be used for this. If it doesn’t fill you with horror at the amount of plastic that gets used and thrown away, it’s probably not being done right! (we’re working on greener solutions…)

Chemicals- Medical grade biocides should be used before and after every procedure to ensure clean working areas. These will have strict instructions from the manufacturers on how to use them to ensure effectiveness, and these should always be followed. Dettol, alcohol, or ordinary disinfectants are simply not effective and safe enough.

PPE- gloves should be used when the artist sets up for the procedure, and used, and most importantly changed regularly throughout the tattoo. For example, if the artist needs to pick up something from outside of the tattoo work zone, or touches something like the bin, or an item they have dropped, then they must change their gloves. Masks and ideally visors should currently be worn by staff and practitioners when with a client.

Skin- the skin should be shaved and disinfected at the beginning of each procedure, and regular disinfecting using a specialist soap mixture should take place. This ensures your skin is clean and taken good care of. A secure dressing should be applied at the end of your tattoo to protect it for the first few hours. There are many products available, but cling film and specialist tattoo dressings are usual.

You can also check the website of your local authority, as they are likely to have guidelines for tattoo studios to follow. These are availably to download, so you can always take a read first so you are prepared.

The most important thing is- trust your instinct. Take the time to see the studio and meet with your artist, ask questions, and if something doesn’t feel right then keep on looking until you find the right studio for you.

International Womens Day 2023

For International Women’s Day this year, I was lucky enough to be invited to do a brief talk at a fundraising evening hosted by the wonderful human that is July, from Train With S.C.U.L.P.T.

 S.C.U.L.P.T. is a private training facility in central Nottingham. Personalised strength training for all genders, with a focus on a holistic approach to health and fitness. 

The evening was raising funds in aid of the Mojatu foundation, a Nottingham based charity who transform communities and individuals through health, media, training and community engagement.   


There were some excellent speakers during the evening, with each one giving an insight both unique, and universal. We all came away feeling galvanised as womenfolk; inspired to lift and motivate one another, connect, and do what we can to make the world a better place for all humans. 



…and others. Check out @trainwithsculpt on Instagram for more details of the event.

I was speaking on one of my specialist areas of tattooing, Post-Mastectomy Tattooing.

Here is a written version of the talk for you to enjoy, muse on, and maybe even share with someone who may benefit from it.

My name is Anna Garvey, I have been tattooing around 18 years, and one of my specialist areas of practice is Post Mastectomy Tattooing. 

So, what is a post-mastectomy tattoo?

Tattooing is a  procedure where we implant pigment under the skin, so as to create an indelible image.

A mastectomy is the medical term for the surgical removal of one or both breasts, partially or completely. Usually due to breast cancer, or in the aid of prevention of breast cancer.

So, we apply a tattoo to a healed surgical site. 

Now, our relationship with the self and  the skin is a complex one.

The skin is the largest organ on body. It is the main part of us that others see. It literally contains us.

The skin is such a fascinating and important organ, not just for physiological uses (it’s rather useful) but also psychologically. 

The skin is literally the barrier between the self and the other. Everything contained within is the self, everything without, the other. 

It’s a special medium to work with, which brings many special experiences along the way.

All tattoos come with power to the wearer. Maybe some people understand this, even seek it out, and for some it may be subconscious. 

They have been a part of human creation since long before written history. As we developed as homo sapiens, we started to create the practices that go on to become the culture we know today.

We found niches which we desired to fill. We started to paint the walls around us, to decorate the stones, carve the wood, to develop shamanism and belief structures, and to tattoo. 

Tattooing has always been a rite of passage, a cultural marker within our lives to denote a significant time or event… this does not have to be an archaic thing. We will always find ways to fill those niches in our existence, and our wants aren’t that far from those of our ancestors.

In recent years, post-mastectomy tattooing has come into the limelight. Wonderful. 

I shall tell you why.

There are so many things in our human existence that are outside of our control. I won’t begin to list them as there’s clearly too many, but the obvious one here is disease and illness.

Many people are suddenly thrust into a world of fear, upset, trauma because illness strikes. I have heard from many clients that when you are in this position, you are faced with a big loss of ownership of oneself, a disconnection from the you that you were before.

Doctors and specialists are undoubtedly there to try and make you well, but also the body becomes theirs to do what they have to, and want to do with it.   

So much choice is taken away, through necessity and systemic processes.

At the end of what is often a long road, I (we) can work together with a client to create both an image and an experience that can truly be transformative. 

I’m not claiming that by putting a lovely image over a healed surgical site, we can suddenly erase the past and create a new future, but we can certainly gain from it. We can begin a new chapter.

The visual aspect is a powerful one. Have you ever seen a piece of art that moves you, that incites an instinctive reaction in your soul? Now, imagine having that on your skin.

The emotional aspect is an even more powerful one. To know that there is something in your power, in your grasp, that you can do to claim some ownership of your body after so much has been stripped away. To begin to heal the wounds to the self, that lie much deeper than the scars we can see. 

Many women can barely look at their torso after having a mastectomy, and I have several times witnessed the moment where they look at their adorned skin in the mirror after the tattoo session, and you can literally see their relationship with themself changing before your eyes. 

To receive the tattoo can be an uncomfortable and physically and emotionally trying process. To put your trust in an artist can be a challenge for anyone receiving a tattoo, but this can be especially poignant after the experience of illness. There can be physical and psychological sensitisation of that area of the body. For many clients it will be their first tattoo. They may not have explored the idea of getting tattooed unless they found themselves in this situation.

So many questions can run through the mind. What if I don’t like it? What if I can’t bear the feeling? What if I don’t work well with the artist? What if I don’t like the design? How will I feel afterwards?

This is why I am as focused on the experience as the art. It is no good having a beautiful picture on your body if you didn’t have a good experience in receiving it. For me, a beautiful, clean and welcoming studio space is vital. To inspire people, to make them feel safe. And how we are as practitioners through the process is also an essential ingredient to the process. We have to balance being sympathetic, empathetic and kind humans with being a professional. Their experience, their grief and trauma is not ours as practitioners to claim. We must be there to support and guide, but allow the recipient to navigate the experience in their own way emotionally..

So, after facing these challenges during the tattoo sessions, you can step away feeling like a stronger version of yourself. You have faced down fear, doubt, discomfort, look in the mirror and know you’re a warrior.

For each time we volunteer to undertake a challenge, we strengthen our relationship with ourselves. 

I think in this setting particularly [private gym] it is something that many of us can identify with.

I came to July a year ago, after years of pain and injury that had ground my life to a halt. With their guidance and support, and a lot of challenging myself, I have found that sense of power; a semblance of control. 

To take ownership of our bodies through making choices to benefit us physically and mentally, to commit to rise to the challenge, to take a grip on the reins of pain and fear, to challenge the narrative surrounding our bodies. through whichever medium we choose, is a powerful move. 

On this, International Womens Day, I would like to acknowledge how lucky we, assembled here, are to live here, now. We have these positive actions within our grasp. We have the freedom to enact the measures that we need to take to improve our existence and that of others. We have healthcare, sanitation, and education. 

There is a long way to go for women all around the world, but I would like to end on a note of gratitude for all of these things that we have, and all the wonderful women in our lives inspiring, motivating and supporting each other through this wild ride of life. 

For more information on my Post Mastectomy Tattooing, read my artist’s blog at http://www.annaadorned.com

You can book a free consultation on the home page of this website.

You can also visit https://www.mastectomytattooingalliance.org/ for more information, including exploring funding, and a list of approved Mastectomy Tattoo artists.


‘Fleeting transformations’ 

-Tattooing in high fashion-

Jolie wears Vivienne Westwood. 1990’s

Tattooing has been a part of the human creative psyche for tens of thousands of years. I won’t go into that now, as that would take more than a single blog to explain how we got to where we are today… however, we can all agree that tattooing is on a real high right now. Considering it has often been viewed as a marginalised subculture, nowadays it permeates through a huge variety of modern culture and media. 

Tattooing has always had a symbolic place in our societies, and as individuals, so how did it step into the world of mainstream fashion? It is often viewed as a modern phenomena, however, as an artform and a fashion, it has had many heydays, revivals and celebrated fashionable status over the years. 

If you look hard enough, you can find many examples of it creeping into high fashion in the last century or so.

Now, as then, tattoos were seen on the trendsetters of society, and this influence feeds down to mere mortals.

From the inimitable Lady Randolf Churchill reportedly having an elegant snake tattooed on her wrist…

Lady Churchill

She frequently covered it with bracelets, but it was described in the New York Times in 1906. ‘Tattoos were fashionable enough that Country Life magazine featured them in an article dated 27 January, 1900 – as if to kick off the new century. As you might expect from Country Life, it described “one of the most popular Masters of Foxhounds in England” who had “tally-ho!” tattooed on his forearm along with a fox’s head and brush and a hunting crop’ 

Now, as then, tattoos were seen on the trendsetters of society, and this influence feeds down to mere mortals.

We can see examples of tattoo style decorative elements in ladies’ fashion from the early part of last century, such as these Parisian stockings from 1914.

A great example of a timeless style classic- see how similar placement an motifs are used today. 

Elegant ankle tattoo by Jo Harrison from Un1ty Tattoo See link below

Skipping to early last century., where you could say modern fashion was finding it’s feet. Elsa Schiparelli came along and revolutionised fashion in 20’s and 30’s. A stong, independent woman,who felt the need to abandon the conventions and constraints in clothing of former times.

In the field of knitwear, her tattoo jumpers, high-necked jumpers characterised by large trompe-l’oeil flakes in optical black and white style, as well as with the X-ray pullovers, which drew the structure of the human skeleton as in an X-ray, remain memorable. Dada and surrealism were strong influences of Schiaparelli- you can see this in her abandon of convention and embracing of the bizarre.

In her work, she sculpts the body as we do in tattooing- using decorative motifs to guide the eye around the living canvas. If you’re not familiar with her work , you must check her out. 

Iconic Schiparelli
Schiparelli Knitwear

Fast forward to more modern times. It is so common now to see tattoo inspiration in everyday clothing. Who put us on this track? 

Well, true designers of any discipline are usually on the periphery of the mainstream, and often subcultures run together. Like Punk and Ska, Funk and Soul; they go together like rum ‘n’ coke, mac ‘n’ cheese, tea and biccies.

So for S/S 1989, Belgian conceptual designer Maison Marigela stormed onto the catwalks with the now iconic Trompe L’oleil Tattoo Tshirt. Trompe L’oleil, or trick of the eye, ustilises areas of contrast such as skin coloured mesh backgrounds and darker printed motifs to create the illusion of another image- here being tattoos on skin.

I feel like this garment needs very little introduction , as now as then it stands out as a true modern icon. 

Permanence of design, temporary transformation that will not grow, age, die. 

Margiela worked with the illustrious Jean Paul Gaultier. 

Gaultier is a magician at taking elements of culture, and bending, creating and reconceptualising them into supreme pop creations which comment loudly on the world around us. He firmly catapulted this tattoo trompe l’oleil into the eyes and hearts of fashionistas in the S/S 1994 Collection – ‘Les Tatuages’ 

This collection is close to my heart indeed. It combines shapes, colours, and decorative practices from around the world and through the ages- chews them up and spits them out in full punk glory. Fusing international influences with the Euro-punk heart of his creations, it created a story of the now that is, for me and many people in the industry of decoration, as relevant as ever. Having travelled and worked extensively around Europe- this collection is like a full saturation tableau of many of the social events I have been a part of through tattooing and piercing. As a ‘tribe’ – we have our minds and our hearts open to self expression through style. Part of this style is transformation, ownership of our physical selves through motifs that connect us all as humans- through 

space and time. A tribe of the now, with roots firmly in the past, and even more firmly in the future. 

From this explosive catwalk show, the motifs of my craft have flowed their way into the highstreet – e.g. Betsey Johnson, Ed Hardy, and even today, Topshop tattoo t-shirt. 

Maybe this is why people love tattoo motifs. It reflects this narrative of transformation and self-ownership.  The tattoo motif on wearable items both allows the wearer to briefly experience and portray this transformation, but also the motif is preserved in a collection, not prey to time and the natural transformation of the human canvas through the years. 

Fashion can be fleeting, tattooing is not. Although trends come and go, style classics actually shape our culture. I couldn’t say it better myself than this classic movie scene- enjoy!

Classic scene from Devil Wears Prada- Streep could not say it better.

References and further reading-

Jo Harrison Tattoo- http://www.un1ty.tattoo @joharrisontattoo




What is freehand and why is it so fascinating?

I have been working on-and-off in freehand for a number of years, and this year I have been doing it a lot. From tiny to huge pieces, I have just had the right work in that suits this process. It can be intimidating from a client’s perspective, so, enthused and inspired by my recent creations, I thought it time to share some thoughts on it with you.

So, what is freehand tattooing? The term freehand denotes the specific part of the design process- the design is sketched directly onto the skin, rather than being pre-prepared on a stencil that is applied to the skin. 

Freehand is an advanced technique that takes years of skill and confidence building to execute. 

It can, when used in the right context, be an advantageous design tool. Why? Stencils are an excellent tool for certain jobs, but freehand is a more organic technique. It allows the artist to scale and structure your tattoo to fit the body perfectly. A well composed piece is the foundation for success in executing a beautiful tattoo. The body is a 3-D canvas, and so deserves to be considered and treated as such. It can be difficult for an artist to relay their vision correctly using only 2-D media. Undoubtedly, traditional and digital art techniques are useful for concept development, but actually quite limiting in their own way. We as tattooists work with the subtleties of the human form, and these are only present in our living, breathing canvasses. Each person is so unique, we strive to capture their individuality in the pieces we craft for them. 

When an artist is at a point in their career where they have studied and tattooed enough to know that they can faithfully bring their ideas to life every time, then freehand can be the way forward. 

A tattoo does not just exist in a single moment (despite what the static visions we constantly see online would have us believe). It is a process that is seeded in our life experiences, and continues until shortly after we expire.

The finished tattoo

As a creator, often the raw connection to the ‘in the moment’ creative process is the crux of the outcome. When painting, drawing, designing or tattooing, an experienced creator will have accumulated years of knowledge. I call it a ‘tool kit’. We fill this tool kit over the years with information, tips and tricks, understanding of form and medium; an indescribable amount of useful tools. When we start to lay down a piece, we take the brief, we make it a vision. From this vision, the creative process flows from our minds, through the hands, and ultimately on to your body. We draw practical knowledge from our own unique toolkit, and we use these tools to create an {immediate}vision. From messy sketch lines grows a piece of art which truly represents the wearer in that moment. The symbiosis of your body and the artist’s mind, reflected in a unique tattoo. A true thing of beauty. 

I am not saying that every tattoo must be made freehand, merely exercising a discourse about the various ways in which we create and achieve results.

If you work with an artist whom you trust, whose work moves and inspires you, you may find that the freehand technique is the one. Listen to your creator, they will always select the tools, both literally and metaphorically, that will work best for your tattoo. 

Communicating well together about the concept is the first step, and from there, you may find that letting go of the reins and flowing with their vision is an exciting, beautiful and fulfilling experience.


‘Tattoos are for life…’

Most of us who have tattoos have been regaled with questions such as ‘Are you sure…? It’s a big decision… you know it’s permanent, right?’.

Now, aside from the irksome nature of these comments, there is a deeper facet to the statement ‘tattoos are forever.’

tat·​too | \ ta-ˈtü  \ noun

plural tattoos

Definition of tattoo

1: a mark, figure, design, or word intentionally fixed or placed on the skin:

a: one that is indelible and created by insertion of pigment under the skin

b: one that is temporarily applied to the skin, resembles a permanent tattoo, and usually lasts for a few days to several weeks

c: one that is composed of scar tissue intentionally created by cutting, abrading, or burning the skin

2: the act of tattooing : the fact of being tattooed

The key word here is ‘indelible’. A tattoo is a mark in the skin which cannot be removed. But, the skin itself is not a permanent article.

The tattoo only lives with a body until it dies, and shortly thereafter.

The imagery of modern and contemporary tattoos is loaded with visual language. Think of the iconic 20th and 21st century styles- japanese and traditional. 

Skulls, roses, blossoms. These icons can be found woven into many modern tattoos. Tattooing didn’t bestow the meanings on these images, but it certainly adopted them and developed them into a visual vocabulary all of its own.

Watercolour blossom tattoo by myself, @anna_adorned

These are images that speak of transience, of bloom and decay, of the fleeting impermanence of life. Even visions of nature resplendent in bloom can allude to this. Like the Dutch Masters; the subject is so sweet because decay is just around the corner.


Many of the classic modern tattoo motifs have their roots in the culture of servicemen in the last century. In a life of travelling far from home, facing difficult and dangerous conditions these men faced great loss. Loss of life, of loved ones, and of their roots. 

The tattoos served as a talisman of that which we hold dear, that which we know will go.

These timeless trends reflect our human sensitivities. Then as now these themes still, and always will apply. Transience is the core of our existence, and we adorn ourselves with homages to this by lighting up our skin with these icons.

A tattoo comes into being from abstract idea. It takes two to formulate it into existence. I craft; you heal. Then it goes and lives with you. It feels like it’s permanent, but it’s permanence is just one lifetime. The impermanence is the magic. We create the indelible, not the immortal. 

In time, it becomes elements once again. Goes back into the mystic. 

“Hark now, hear the sailors cry

Smell the sea and feel the sky

Let your soul and spirit fly

Into the mystic”

Van Morrisson- Into the Mystic

Echoes of the past.

Uncle Patrick was a legend. He was my Stepmother’s Uncle. He grew up in Dublin in the 1920’s. 

In my childhood, he lived mostly in New Zealand and often came here and lived with us for the whole summer to escape the winter in the southern hemisphere and spend time with his beloved family here. He had irish eyes of pure glacial blue, an irrepressibly outrageous spirit and a wonderful talent for spinning yarns; sometimes appropriately at times, sometimes not. 

He was like a grandfather to me, inspiring me with tales of adventures. On my first major backpacking trip in 2009/10 I planned in a stop in New Zealand to visit him. Sometimes life sets a path for you… He had been very sick (yet active and wild as ever) for many years. He simply refused to give in to the calling of the Great Sleep. However, while I was in New Zealand elsewhere, I received a call. Patrick told me I must come to him as soon as possible. I said I’d do what I could and make arrangements to travel. I called him the next day and his friend answered and said he was in hospital. I spent my last few hundred bucks on a flight later that day. I spent the next few days staying alone in his flat and visiting him in hospital. Watching the tears of rain rolling down the window pane. I was there when his body gave up. I held his hand as they wheeled him in to surgery, both knowing it was goodbye. He somehow pulled through the operation, and the hospital called me to say I could come and see him in intensive care. The paraphernalia of supported life pulsating and whirring all around. Low ceilings with the dim glare of fluorescent lights. The winter deluge distorting the darkness outside. 

As I approached, all was calm. His body was being kept alive, but I knew upon seeing him that his self was gone. It was a pivotal moment of knowing that this is what it feels like to be an adult, to let the crashing waves of life wash over you, far from home, alone, but strong. The overwhelming sensation of gratitude for peace was upon me. I knew the surgery was an act of kindness. One that allowed a brilliant man to pass from this world without pain. 

He always encouraged me to travel, to be brave and wild. I remember asking him about his tattoo when I was young, and he said ‘don’t do it; you’ll regret it’. But I know if he could see me now he would be a great champion of my path. 

Now imagine you’re sat around a big wooden kitchen table, slippers on and tea in hand, and enjoy a snippet of one man’s amazing story. Let it make you think of those you love with fondness, and how each tattoo tells a story.

Transcript of original letter from Patrick Browne to Anna Garvey. Postmarked 14.01.10

My Dear Anna,

Thank you for such an interesting letter; particularly your interest in my tattoo on my left forearm.

I’ve told nobody of the origin of the tattoo. On lots of occasions when I happened to recall incidents in my past certain members if my clan interrupt with “get to the point Uncle; get to the point.” Then I lose interest. Seeing your interest, you will be the first to know. Here goes. I hope you are not too bored by the finish.

After the end of the war in Europe early 1945, our Battalion Manchester machine gun Regt were posted to Sth Wales near Pembroke. We immediately began intensive training maneuvers up and down the coastline. Twenty four hours a day. Night and day. After a short time we began to get used to air sickness by being flown in [Ansom Akio?] aircraft twice a week for 4 hours. Every day they would send out platoons and the Girls i.e. WAAFS.That is would fit us out with the …..? With the harness and chutes.

There was 2 RAF stations and a fleet…? Station we used. I learned later on we were to change to an airborne unit ….?

A lot of activity about. We were bumping into allsorts during ….?mechanised ….? Really high density. Not long after the atom bomb was dropped in Japan and the war ended. Immediately training stopped and everyone dispersed as quickly as they appeared. Orders were to proceed to the Island of Malta to …? The garrison. But mainly to supervise the thousands of German prisoners of war in camps. Remnants of Rommels(??) African Corps. Prior to going we were told the guys we were to relieve were a motley bunch so not really up to it. And the jerries used to give them trouble, and riot now and again. And generally take advantage of their weaknesses.

We sailed from Southampton. Guess what? Uncle Patrick couldn’t miss this. A whopper of a storm in the Biscay. It was a cracker. Life jackets on 24hrs. I spent most of the time available to me on deck. At one period I saw unforgettable sights. They sent an aircraft carrier to assist as necessary. The name of that carrier was ‘The Ocean’ She was dancing around in those seas doing impossible you a would think gyrations. My heart skipped many a beat at the sight. The next happy event took place when we arrived in Valletta harbour. There’s no docks in Valletta so we had to come down rope nets into landing craft and go ashore that way. The sea was choppy and a lot of the guys were seasick. L.C.M.’s as they were known as they were notorious seasick vessels. Had my share of vomit spewed around.

We settled in around the P.O.W. camps and had no bother with them. They were told we were a hard and bitter outfit specialising in eating SS units for breakfast. At first they were apprehensive, and behaved by the book. Then they saw we didn’t give a shit what they did. The war was over and all wanted to was to get out and home. As far as we were concerned soldiering was over, and they could do what they likes as far as we were concerned. We changed a lot of the routine to make their lot a lot better. There was no rationing on Malta after the war unlike Britain where it continued for years. We would barter for the POW’s for what they wanted for their products they made in the camps. They had it easy all around.

Malta in these days was one of the world’s largest Naval installations. Sailors at every turn. And where sailors congregate to, a sleazy quarter appears. And Valletta had one of the biggest. Called the GUT aka Strait Street.

10 metres wide approx, adn approx 400 metres long on a very steep incline. Each side of the street all the way down had holes in the wall. Each containing a Bordello, a Bar and here and there a tattooist. And other holes blaring out music with ….?

To the tattoo at last. I don’t think I would be wrong in stating that 90% of the Jack Tars(?) in the British Navy got their tattoos in Malta between the wars. My tattoo was done by a tattooist from the Gut. A heart, a scroll through the centre left to right with the words mother written in the scroll. In other words a shape in this fashion.

Stage one of recreating Patrick’s tattoo.

The tattooist told me the red dye would disappear in a short while. I remember at the time being very disappointed. He said the red dye was imported from Japan. When Japan entered the war that was the end of imports. It must have been a secret formula. No doubt that problem doesn’t exist today. One of our guys had a tattoo that impressed me in a big way. A large dagger piercing a scroll with the words Death Before Dishonour. Because he had this tattoo, I formed my own opinion of him which was of very high regard. Imagine my shock on coming back from a shower parade one day and one of the platoon called out his watch was missing. We had a ships search on the spot. Guess what? It was in Death before Dishonour’s bag. Lots of times I would ponder, why he got that tattoo. In these we were all servicemen and any tattoos were 90% for loved ones. One that note all finite. I’m very tired at the moment and I would like to wish you my very best wishes. I’m very pleased you are heeding the golden rules. When in doubt, get out.

I’ll be in touch. Lots of love. Uncle Patrick.

The finishing touches to the recreated design.

I don’t think I need to say much in closing this. Just that this is a happy story, not a sad one. That we have these moments of joy and beauty in our life experience is all the more powerful through it’s fragility. I’m grateful to those special people that have been with me on some of the roads that lead to now.

Writing this has spared many more musings to do with our relationship with tattoos, so stick with me and read the next few blogs for some delving deeper.

“You don’t know what you’re capable of until you have to.”

Thoughts on trials and triumphs, and tattoos.

So, you’ve made your choice… you’ve decided on the style, discussed your design with the artist, booked your appointment day…you eagerly await the tattoo day; imagining along the way how your newly decorated skin will look, how it will make you feel. Will it hurt on this spot? How about this one? How will that bit of colour look? What will my Mum think? 

The day comes… time for action.

To choose to receive a tattoo is to challenge oneself. For tens of thousands of years, tattoos have been a rite of passage -passing through a challenge that leaves an indelible mark, to become a new version of the self.

The nervous tingle raised by the impending challenge reflects the questions dancing around our brain. No matter how many times we have undergone being tattooed, it is a unique experience each time. 

Each time, and particularly the first time, we face up to the fear of the unknown.  

Through the making of the tattoo, we create the shared experience created by working together through the mental and physical  adventure that is getting tattooed. 

Preparing the tattoo…

We communicate and connect through the hours, the challenges and the joys. On different days, the experience can feel different, and each time we plumb a new depth of the self. 

I can sense a lot about how my client is feeling during the tattoo, and we will often engage in deeply tranquil music(of many genres), deep, quiet breathing, and slipping into ‘the zone’ of painless meditative daydreams and intense creative focus. We also share moments of swearing, laughing and gritting of teeth. 

The act of creating a tattoo causes a range of sensations to the wearer. If you get deep enough into the challenge, the truly interconnected nature of the body and the mind becomes vivid. 

Sometimes time feels suspended. That moment in time; imprinted for mortal time

Through this undertaking, we redefine our boundaries- we realise that we are menatlly strong, or some days we own up to our own vulnerabilities. We explore our limits, physically, visually and mentally. 

By exploring this aspect of the self, we often feel a sense of heightened mastery. 

In life, we worry much about things outside of our control. The experience of receiving a tattoo is both an exercise in control, and surrender. We do not know exactly how the tattoo will feel, how it will look. We may be apprehensive about these things before we get tattooed. 

Once in the chair, we have to surrender to whatever comes next. The funny thing being- it’s more often than not a much easier and pleasant experience than the mild horror that our worried brain had conjured up. 

What we can control is our will to do it, and our inner strength to surrender to it. By taking the first step and committing to getting a tattoo, we have willed ourselves a slightly newer version of the self, complete with indelible representation of this.

Maybe tattooing addresses a primal function. We must face our fears to grow stronger, we must triumph over discomfort. We must allow life to bring us challenges, and to know or learn that we have the patience and wisdom within us to overcome, and rise stronger.


“You don’t know what you’re capable of, until you have to.”
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