I’ve always wanted a tattoo. When I was young and part of the Spread Eagle Motorcycle Club (now a furniture superstore) four of us had a ride out to Blackpool with the intention of getting a tattoo. Nick went in first and when he emerged sometime later, tears were rolling down his face. The rest of us decided not to go through with it, got on our bikes, and rode home. So much for being tough.
Years later, and bucket lists come to mind. Mine is very short. I’d like to visit Iceland and Japan, and I’d like to get a tattoo. But if I did get a tattoo what would it be? I thought of the usual dragons, wolves and skulls, but I didn’t want anything aggressive. Other traditional designs didn’t have any meaning for me. So what would it be?
When we were in Canada I was fascinated by First Nations Art. The West Coast was the home, and still should be the home, of the Haida Nation. Their art is based on shapes and symbols that are 10, 000 years old and mostly depicts animals that live in that area – bears, eagles, orca, salmon. These creatures are rich in meaning and are used to create totems which often tell the story of a particular tribe or family. Which got me thinking. What is my totem?
The first one was easy. I’m a Manc (note for American friends – Manc is not as unpleasant as it sounds and is short for Mancunian, the term for someone from Manchester). A year after the tragic and senseless bombing of the MEN Arena I was sitting in a pub in Town (aka Manchester) having a liquid reflection, when I decided to have a worker bee (symbol of the city) tattooed on my arm. It didn’t hurt as much as I thought it would and, more importantly, I’d finally ticked it off my bucket list.
So then I got to thinking and to drawing. What else would represent my life. I came up with 31 symbols in 31 hexagons (like a beehive, see what I did there?), a cross and a dragonfly (I’ll explain those two in another blog post). It took a few years, a bit of pain, a bit of cash and a lot of antiseptic cream, but now it’s finished. It’s been a process of pilgrimage and self reflection and small courage, but now I have my totem.