**LIMITED EDITION BLOG**
This is a temporary page on this website and this specific page will be deleted on Saturday 30th October 2021. The reason the author (Amy Tollyfield) has created this limited edition blog is because she is not releasing any further information about her next, third book – Brixton Nights (to be published by Olympia Publishers, London, in summer 2022) – for a little while, and so wanted to add a little something extra to this website to keep her readers/website visitors entertained during the interim period. While this page describes itself as a ‘blog’, it will in fact constitute only one ‘blog post’, and no further entries to this website page will be made between now and this specific page’s deletion.
This tattoo blog has been created for interim entertainment purposes only and is in no way connected to the release or content of Amy’s upcoming third book, Brixton Nights. They are entirely unrelated entities, bar being penned by the same hand.
This blog/blog post was written and published by Amy Tollyfield on Wednesday 15th September 2021.
It takes around 5-10 minutes to read in full, and is a lighthearted read which will hopefully make you smile.
To confirm, http://www.brixtonnights.com will remain active and live as a website indefinitely, however http://www.brixtonnights.com/tattoo-blog (this specific website page) will be deleted on Saturday 30th October 2021 as it is a limited edition blog.
Happy reading! 🙂
– A x
Amy would like to thank the following tattooists/tattoo studios for their
wonderful artwork and craftsmanship:
Jonn Evans, of Octopus Tattoo, Derby
Steve Bates, of Imperial Tattoo Company, Bath
Steve Baker, formerly of Imperial Tattoo Company, Bath
Phil Moody, of Inked Up, Bristol
Jess, of Pierce of Art, Alfreton, Derbys.
Photos: Stephen Tollyfield, 2021 (unless otherwise stated in the photo caption)
I got my first tattoo at 26, and now have 17 tattoos, if you count each hand as a separate tattoo (including the knuckles). If you separate the knuckles, I have 25 tattoos. If you count each time I sat down in a tattooist’s chair (or lay down – let’s be clear, here), rather than counting each individual tattoo (as a couple were later added to or revised slightly), and you separate the knuckles, I have 27 tattoos. I’m 30.
Does that seem like a lot of tattoos to you?
To me it doesn’t: I took long breaks between the tattoos, and most of my tattoos are fairly small. My first two tattoos were super meaningful. A reference to a passage from the Bible was my first tattoo. My deceased Nan’s initials my second. I’m not big on Christianity right now, but the biblical reference also has a family connection, to my family, so I’m likely to always be okay with it. All of my tattoos so far (holds breath while thinking carefully) mean something. Will probably always mean something. And if they stop meaning something, and I get to the prime age of 70 with my body looking like a well-used Etch A Sketch(R), I’ll probably be okay with it. I’ll just be glad I got to 70 (depending, of course, what our increasingly frightening world looks like by then).
I think it all depends on what kind of person you are, and what kinds of risks you do/don’t like taking. I am generally and genuinely pretty risk-averse. I have never taken any recreational drugs. I learnt how to ride a 125cc scooter – passed the CBT and everything – but didn’t want a bike because I don’t want to die young. I wear sun-cream every day, even in winter. I eat on average three pieces of fruit a day, plus two portions of veg, so I’m getting my five-a-day. That last point sounds like a brag, which is unfortunate and unintended; I’m just trying to paint a picture, here. There are many more examples I could offer but you’re picking up the vibe here: I’m sensible. I occasionally like a drink but I’m sensible. Sometimes too sensible, which is no crime.
One thing that doesn’t phase or bother me though is a good tattoo. I think they look ruddy beautiful, and alternative. Growing up I was a geek and a nerd and a bit weird. I’m now a certified, practising (when I get the flamin’ chance…) lesbian. I like alternative. I like different. I like unusual. I will indulge unusual-for-unusual’s sake, yes (though generally prefer to be justified in my own unusualness). If you aren’t hurting anyone, unusual is good. Different is good. Tattoos are no longer especially different or unusual, however most old people still frown at them, so yes, tattoos get my vote of approval. I enjoy art, I like (on the whole, provided reasonably inoffensive in its methods) self-expression. We could fall down a rabbit hole here of what kinds of self-expression are inoffensive and what aren’t, but I’ll avoid the hole if I can. For the most part, I like quirky. I like odd. I like individualism.
Here in the UK, we are fortunate to live in a part of the world where we can – at least presently – enjoy moderate levels of freedom of self-expression, which is a wonderful, incredible thing. There are so many people in this painful world – particularly women – who cannot enjoy such freedoms. We should relish such freedoms in their abundance, I say. Get that tattoo. Pierce that eyebrow. Don’t buy a motorbike.
You get the picture.
I’m glad I waited until 26, though. My tattoos are all meaningful and attractive (sorry, did that sound too big-headed? But they are attractive, look at the photos!), which I think is more achievable if you are that little bit older when you start getting them. I’m not sure I’d advocate 18-year-olds getting tattoos. You’re young, and dating someone you think you are in love with but who will soon enough be an ex. I was afraid of being tattooed until I was 26, because I was afraid of the pain/expected pain. I’ve never been a huge fan of needles/injections/blood tests (who is?), so the thought of someone drilling ink into my arm was for a long time something I would never do.
I’m so glad I was untattooed before 26. Before 26 I was bitter and angry, and still processing the end of a long-term relationship. Before 26 I could have had anything put into my arm: her name, some angry song lyrics, an empty wine bottle (though that last image sounds quite fun…). Thankfully I was just too scared of tattoo studios prior to 26. Not that my life became a dream after 26, but I had a better sense of direction. At 27 I became a published poet, by 29 I was a twice-published poet. Amazing. I’m glad I waited until 26 to become tattooed. My tattoos are now of things that are beautiful, not sad: references to my published poetry; a rose; the faces of beautiful, elfin women; the bust of a proud, regal deer; my take on an Anne Brontë quote; an eyeball.
Okay, the eyeball doesn’t quite fit in that lovely list. More on the eyeball later.
Not that I’m completely unafraid of tattoo pain now, you understand. I always use a numbing cream ahead of being tattooed. It doesn’t always work much or even at all, however psychologically it helps me with the process. You did what you could, love, I tell myself, to avoid the pain of someone literally drilling ink into your arm.
I don’t know why I keep using my arm as an example. I’ve been tattooed elsewhere (like MY HANDS! Aren’t they incredible? Look at them, look at them), but mostly on my arms, I guess.
Numbing cream is a prerequisite for me for any tattoo. Some tattooists get a bit funny about it but hey, no cream, no sale. Thankfully my current tattooist is not only incredible in the art of tattooing but is also understanding; apparently my numbing cream obsession is not just about not feeling pain (“because you seem okay with that” – something I am not keen to explore further), but about ‘ritual’. Yes, ritual. It is ‘ritual’ that causes me to spend £4.09 in a well-known pharmaceutical store (or a price thereabouts – remarkably good value, I say) for a modest tube of numbing cream which I then fully exhaust on the selected body part (no, really. Fully exhaust. Cut the end of the tube off, absolutely drain the entire, meagre contents onto the skin) then wrap said body part in unnecessarily excessive amounts of cling-film.
Yes, all this, for a small rose on my upper left arm that will take 20 minutes to tattoo.
Possibly it is ritual, sir. I can be obsessive. More likely, though, it is fear of the expected pain.
I have always been tattooed in places I can see being physically tattooed, so I can watch the tattooist as he/she does the tattooing. I don’t always choose to watch, however I like to think I have the option to watch if I want to. I think it is a control thing. I feel more ‘in control’ if I can see what he/she is doing. Getting my hands tattooed was not as excruciating as I was expecting (though of course still painful) and I think that is because I could see everything my tattooist was doing during the tattoo and therefore felt more in control. I am of course not technically in any more tangible control than I would be if my tattooist tattooed, say, my back, however I am of course at all times during the tattoo a paying customer, and so I could in theory shout STOP WHAT YOU ARE RUDDY DOING at any time, though probably wouldn’t.
I think also (personally) my pain tolerance is better in the places I can see/am more familiar with on my body. I imagine getting your bottom, back legs, back, anywhere behind really, tattooed is especially painful. But as I haven’t had any of those such places tattooed – and am unlikely to – I’m not the expert on that.
In short, I love my tattoos and think I’ll love them as an old woman. To recap, provided the world hasn’t gone to absolute pot, I’ll just be happy to have made it all the way to being an old woman. Yes, the tattoos will fade. Yes, they’ll go out of fashion. Yes, my hands will need extra-special attention and may need ‘touching up’ at some point (not a fan of that. I thought tattoos were permanent and never needed any kind of amendment? Turns out not. Search ‘hand tattoos’ online and read through some of the forums. Hands are a tentative, costly tattoo adventure. I sort of knew this already, but still proceeded with getting them inked. Huzzah! What-ho! Hair of the dog! Gung-ho! Seize the day! etc, etc, etc…). Someone said to me not long ago that young people now (as in younger than me; I still view 30 as very young. Ahem, coughs, clears throat, etc) will start to see tattoos as something ‘old’ people do, as every generation wants to do things differently fashion-wise to the generation before and, since tattoos are popular in my age group/generation, the current crop of teenagers will view tattoos as something their parents get and go right ruddy off them. Like what has apparently happened with skinny jeans (skinny jeans will always be cool).
Basically, there’ll be lots of old people walking around with tattoos in say, forty years’ time and everyone else will consider tattoos an ancient trend, until they (tattoos) make a revival again in time. Most fashion trends seem to come back in at some point, like a full circle, unity process of fashionableness. Like ‘mother earth’ recycles compost and rain and whatever else goes on during precipitation (I hated science but loved that word. ‘Precipitation’), fashion trends come and go.
Skinny jeans: there’s hope for you yet.
I’ve always been fine with being off-trend, so I can most definitely cope if my tattoos are one day viewed as embarrassing.
And I guess that’s a good way to conclude this blog: I’m okay with not being cool. I’m okay with looking a bit weird. I’m okay with being different. If my tattoo starts to look a bit crusty and faded, I can cope with that. I can cope with being the old person at the bus-stop that the youngsters think looks a little odd; for the third time in this blog, I’ll just be glad I got to be old. If you are reading this right now and wondering whether to get a tattoo, ask yourself these three questions:
– Can I cope with the pain? It does hurt, numbing cream or not. Someone is literally drilling ink into your arm. Other body parts available.
– Am I at least 26? I’m sorry, anything younger is too young. I was very unhappy in my early twenties. I think you should be older, kid. Make an educated decision with your body; with age comes discernment (or it certainly should do!).
– Am I okay with looking weird? This is important. Have you always been someone who is okay with being seen as a bit of a weirdo? I’m being serious. Your tattoos might fade, have ink drop out (it happens frequently with hand tattoos), go seriously out of fashion. You need to be someone who is typically okay with such things before embarking on a tattoo extravaganza adventure, not after.
I want to be seen as a boyish lesbian. I want that aesthetic. I don’t like a bunch of tattoos on women I fancy (one or two are okay), but on me, yes. I’ve thought this through. I waited until 26. I don’t know how many more tattoos I will or won’t have, but every single one of my 17 tattoos so far I ruddy love, and will probably love as an old woman. You don’t have to take my advice on tattoos if you don’t want to, but if I were you, sitting there with your lonely, untattooed arm, craving a dose of ink, I’d listen to me, for sure. For sure! Gung-ho!
Speaking of gung-ho and making educated decisions with your body and all that, I did say I’d tell you about my eyeball tattoo. Well, where to start? Actually the story is really, really straightforward. It was in-between the first two ‘lockdowns’ of the coronavirus pandemic, and I was feeling uncharacteristically game for doing something reasonably wild. My current tattooist is based in a studio that has a ‘tattoo gumball machine’. C’mon, you can work out the next bit. The gumball machine generates (read: pops out) a random tattoo design in a small, ‘gumball machine’-style capsule. The tattoo design has been pre-drawn by one of the studio’s resident artists. It’s £50 to play. If you hate the tattoo that pops out, you obviously don’t have to have it (it’s not that you are tattooed ‘blind’, as I understand happens at some tattoo conventions. Wild!), but you don’t get your money back (in such an instance, the money is donated to a local homeless charity. At least, that’s the forfeit at my current studio). Some of the previous ’emissions’ of the tattoo gumball machine in my current tattooist’s studio included a noose and a gun. I would have neither on my body.
Well, I got a smiling eyeball. I opted to have it done on the inside of the knee-joint on my right leg. I chose a green iris (I could pick the eye colour), because it looks more exotic/special.
Two weeks later, I found out I needed glasses for the first time in my life.
About the Author
Amy Tollyfield is a twice-published poet based in the UK. She holds a Master’s degree in Shakespeare Studies from the University of Birmingham and is a former registered member of the National Youth Theatre. Her third book and first novella, Brixton Nights, will be published by Olympia Publishers in summer 2022 – something Amy is very excited for. Amy likes cats, coffee and watching TV.
Find out more about Amy and buy her books at http://www.amytollyfield.com.
Praise for Amy’s second book, Toy Soldiers (poetry):
‘A conflicted portrait of longing, angst, and self-assertion’ – Kirkus Reviews
‘I enjoyed how each poem flowed, had its own pace but there is a notable lyricism in the author’s writing that I found stayed consistently throughout. Throughout the collection I found that Tollyfield was able to craft poems that were immediately immersive and evocative. Each one left me pausing for a moment, contemplating the scene that had just been brought to life, before moving on to the next. … I think that this is a great collection for fans of poetry. One that entices you back’ – LoveReading UK ambassador
Website header image: Amy Tollyfield
‘Amy Tollyfield’ and the domain of ‘www.amytollyfield.com’ and its sub-pages refer to the UK-based author and poet of the same name. ‘www.brixtonnights.com’ and its sub-pages have been created to promote and celebrate Amy’s upcoming third book, Brixton Nights, which will be published by Olympia Publishers, London, in summer 2022. Amy is unaffiliated with any third parties bar her publishers, http://www.olympiapublishers.com. Any third parties featured on this website and its sub-pages have been credited accordingly. If you would like to get in touch for any reason then please use the contact page on this website which may be reached using the following link: http://www.brixtonnights.com/contact. Thank you.
References to ‘author’ throughout this site – for example when detailing that an image belongs to/was taken by the ‘author’ – refer to the above stated Amy Tollyfield.