We awoke to the sad news of the death of David Bowie from cancer. Bowie had a profound effect on me during my fumbling years. His pioneering music, his constant reinvention and, above all, his sexual ambiguity taught me that to be different was ok. It was a lesson I learned well.
Bowie released his latest album, Blackstar, on his 69th Birthday, just a few days ago. It was reviewed in the Independent Daily Briefing by Andy Gill who wrote:
It may be significant that this is the first Bowie album that features no trace of his face on the sleeve, with even his name abstracted to a series of graphic fragments; it’s almost as if he’s retiring from public view, deliberately turning away from his own past.
Prophetic words indeed.
According to a recent article in the Independent newspaper, Norwich is the second most tattooed city in the land, with 41% of people saying they sport more than six images. Coincidentally there are six tattoo parlours in the city centre, all doing a roaring trade. There was a time when tattoos were the preserve of randy roughs and frisky seamen. These days, the streets are teeming with cocks of the county wearing their body art with pride. Everybody’s at it. Some are so well adorned, they could be skinned and hung in the Tate. And yes, the image above is a tattoo of Norwich’s ancient cathedral. Is nothing sacred? Norwich tattoos even get a brief mention in Turkey Street.
‘F-f-fwend,’ said Sean, holding out his hand to an ageing skinhead with a trio of studs in one ear and a spider tattoo crawling up the side of his neck.
Turkey Street, Chapter Thirteen, Blesséd are the Meek
I’m not against tattoos per se. In fact, I’ve got one myself. It’s a sad little thing resting on my shoulder, long faded with age and disfigured by a mole. I had it done many moons ago and have never repeated the experience. It was like having glass dragged across my skin. No, a little body engraving is fine by me, it’s just, like most things, less is more. When the lovely Iwan Thomas was the first to be ejected from this year’s Strictly Come Dancing on the Beeb, maybe it had more to do with the sudden exposure of his breast plate embellishment than his stompy cha-cha-cha. And I do wonder, when the ravages of time take their inevitable toll and taut young bodies are distorted by bingo wings, double-barrelled bellies and thunder thighs, how many men (and women, of course) will regret the artful decisions of their youth.
Image courtesy of BBC/Guy Levy
To (badly) quote the glorious Victoria Wood, you know you’re getting old when you walk past a shop window displaying a pair of Scholl sandals and think to yourself Ooh, they look comfy. I had a similar revelation when I was thumbing through an Independent on Sunday glossy supplement and came across an advert for flatulence filtering underwear called Shreddies. And there was me thinking breakfast cereal made from wholegrain wheat. But then too much bran can brew a lusty whiff, so perhaps that’s the association. And while we’re on the subject of our grey days, why are the models advertising a product obviously targeted at the winking-sphincter brigade, young and lithe with rings of steel?