I had my first tattoo on my 21st birthday, the main clump of three roses you can see on my arm. The branch extending towards my back was done a bit later and never quite fitted with the original part. The fish and the shell tattoo was done later still, a cover up on top of a woman’s hand with red nails holding a gun. From a Die Cheerleader album cover as I remember it, although I can’t find it now, and also influenced by the book Dirty Weekend. I disliked it almost immediately, and a friend designed the fish and shell design to get done as a cover up, although as you can see that didn’t look that great either.
I had accepted my tattoos and it never really crossed my mind to get them fixed. I was always under the impression that removal was a big deal and cost thousands of pounds. I had vaguely heard about lasering but had just assumed it was super expensive* and I didn’t think another cover up would be possible. Then a few months ago I ended up in Factotum with a friend and one thing led to another. After some research (you can spend many hours on the internet trapped in a tattoo vortex) and several consultations I decided to go with Emma Sailor at Factotum in Norwich. She said she could do cover ups on the ones pictured above as they are but the one on my other arm, pictured below, would need some lasering; I have had one treatment done so far at Fading Time on the same premises.
This tattoo is from the Doughboys ‘Happy Accidents’ album. I wasn’t a big fan of the band, I just liked the concept and the art; comedy and tragedy in the middle, the clock hands all twisted.
Again, it didn’t actually look that great on my arm. Twenty five years and one laser treatment later, this is what it looks like now:
I am having one more laser treatment in December and then I will be getting a new tattoo over it in February.
Tattooing has moved on a lot since I had mine done in my twenties. Tattooists now are real artists, and the thing I learned was to choose the right person for you and then let them do their stuff. Roses work particularly well for cover ups because of all the petals and shading. I had this done two days ago. I have another appointment at the beginning of January to finish it, but I am so happy with how it looks that I couldn’t wait to share it!
Whilst we were in Marrakech, I experimented with some DIY therapy re my ‘recovered memories’/flashbacks. With my husband’s help, I went right back there. It wasn’t that scary after all. It was strangely liberating… And I kind of enjoyed it. I feel much better now. Thank you for your advice and support, and for reading.
*The tattooists, when they ask each other about what tattoos they are working on say: What are you making? I love that.
**One treatment cost £50, took ten minutes and was completely bearable; there was a sign on the wall with a word on it and I stared at it, playing with the letters. It will only need one more treatment to be able to be tattooed over. I believe it can take 8-12 treatments to remove a tattoo completely, although sometimes there can be scarring. Grey and black come up easiest, green is hardest, apparently.