I'm pleased to introduce the first guest blogger to Tattisfaction; J Michael Taylor of Black Amethyst Tattoo Gallery in St Petersburg, Florida. Hopefully, he'll become a regular contributor as I'm pretty excited about getting not only the insight of somebody from the other side of the tattoo machine but also the other side of the Atlantic, too.
Tattoos That Change Lives
Tattooing is a versatile art that has long been used in covering scars and blemishes. Getting a tattoo can be very life changing for some people with conditions that undermine their self-confidence and self-esteem. This body art can be very helpful for people who have suffered skin damage by burning. Tattoos are also ideal for covering scars from different wounds including surgery. Recently, this art has been used very creatively to help breast cancer survivors cover the scars of mastectomy. This wonderful art is helping thousands of people transform their lives for the better.
Popular designs used to cover breast cancer surgery scars include:
• Bra cup designs – What better way to cover up than with what people would expect to see? Bra tattoos take the form of bra shape. To cover a larger area, the tattoo artist will extend the design to the back just like a normal bra strap would. This tattoo design can be very concealing when it is well done.
• Flower designs - The rose flower motif is the most popular though there are several other flower designs. The tattoo artist tricks the eye into looking at the flower growing up from the belly to a beautiful blossom at the edge of the collarbone. The focal point is shifted away from the scar on the breast area.
• Tribal motifs – These tattoo designs are elaborate and bold, which makes them good for covering up bigger scars. Native American designs and Maori style tattoos are popular and do the concealment job very well.
• Vines and tendrils – Just like vines growing on a wall, a tattoo artist can replicate these designs very well extending from the chest area to the belly and onwards to the lower back. The good thing with tendril and vines designs is that the tattoo artist has more room to experiment with color making them beautiful but not garish and shouting for attention.
Breast cancer survivors deserve a pat on the back for their resilience and courage. The pink ribbon is the universal symbol for this achievement as well as an awareness of this scourge. Some women will prefer to have this ribbon on their scars. The pink ribbon tattoo can be proudly worn on the upper arm or a sleeve as well. The good thing is that it can be made small or big to fit different parts of the body.
Using tattoos to cover scars is a creative way that can be very powerful in making people feel beautiful, whole and with renewed confidence. It is definitely something more tattoo artists should be doing.
A little over a year ago Ink inspired me to write my first ever book review so I've been champing at the bit to get my hands on the follow up and I wasn't disappointed. That said, it's taken me longer to work out how to review it than it did to read it.
If you've read Ink (and if you haven't why haven't you?!) you'll know about Leora Flint, the confused teen-aged, tattoo prodigy and her struggles with faith, trust, friendship, a quietly oppressive government and her own somewhat shrouded heritage. Leora has a lot on her plate, right now. In Spark (and I'll try not to spoil things too much) these struggles continue and when I say continue, I mean "get worse".
We resume to find Leora tramping through the woods, she knows where she's going but she doesn't know where it is.
Of course, I could tell you where she's going but that would spoil it. In fact there isn't too much I can tell you about Spark without spoiling something so.....hmmmmm. What do I say?
There's political intrigue and skulduggery, a young girl taken out of her comfort zone, conflict, sabotage, rebellion, double-dealing, betrayal, redemption, murder, acts of heroism and acts of war. It's well worth a read, that much I will say.
Spark is a very thought provoking book, at different parts of the book I was put in mind of Monty Python's The Life of Brian, Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray and The Soul of a Butterfly, by Muhammad and Hana Ali, without the book ever directly being remotely similar to any of them.
Alice Broadway's "slow burning" style reminded me of The Picture of Dorian Gray (a book I love) in that she keeps you turning pages even when very little seems to be happening. Every page teases you expertly onto the next, each page gently building towards the cliff hanger of an ending that isn't happy with just one twist.
There is no need for an all action, break necked pace here. Leora is still growing as a person, still developing, still learning that every story has more than one side. Of course, Alice could have given us more action, certain events within the book could have been given more graphic detail but I feel had she done this we would could have lost sight about what this book is really about, or at least what I believe it's really about.
Leora is a teenager and while she may be physically mature and artistically gifted she is still just a child, in need of guidance. As we discovered in Ink, her father has died, her mother isn't actually her mother and she's desperate to find out about the woman who did bring her into the world. Leora is naive and pliable, easily manipulated and exploited. She yearns to fit in, to belong. This is just a young girl, trying to find her place in the world but has no idea who to trust in helping her find that place and she inevitably makes mistakes along the way.
In addition to all of these quite normal teen emotions, she finds that the belief system that has moulded her opinions is fundamentally flawed, the fabled heroes of the stories she was raised with are the villains of ever so similar yet strikingly different stories told elsewhere. While Leora struggles with her evaluation of the faith she grew up in and begins to wonder if this new version of events might be more suited, she finds that this new belief system is also flawed.
Is everyone following their own version of the same thing, as Muhammad Ali believed? Was there a moment when, just as there was in The Life of Brian, a small event that caused a massive shift in belief? Was it something as simple as Brian Cohen giving away a gourd or losing a shoe that caused the people in Leora's world to follow the way of the Marked or the Blanks? Should they all do as Spike Milligan did, after Brian Cohen's followers went their separate ways, and just wander off to find their own truth?
Many of the stories told by the Blanks and the Marked lean on well known fairy stories, maybe that in itself is part of the dilemma for all of us. Is religion the truth or is it just a collection of fairy stories packaged as the truth? I don't know and neither does Leora Flint.
Am I just reading too much into what is, after all, "just" a book for young adults?
Ink and Spark are in someways representative of this debate, they are the same story but they are not the same. When I reviewed Ink, I called it a, "very clever book", Spark is no less intelligent but it is far more thought provoking than it's predecessor, yet Alice Broadway has managed to provoke thought without forcing the idea that you should think down your throat.
That's a pretty neat trick, if you ask me.
You can get Ink and Spark via my Amazon affiliate links above. Go, on....treat yourself.
Well it's been a while since I blogged a blog so when I was approached by Fern Kenney, of Leicester University's Feminist Society, about a cross-promotion opportunity for tattisfaction.co.uk and the tattoo competition she is running to celebrate International Women's Day, I thought, "I've never done that before....why not?"
Cutting a long story short, she asked me to judge the competition. Well, at that point panic set in....Do I know enough to judge a tattoo competition? erm.............not really, I'm just a hard to impress, grumpy, old man with tattoos and a website. So, I called in some favours, did some begging and ultimately managed to rope in two incredibly talented young women to help me out, but more about them later.
As a 47 year old bloke, I apologise in advance for my ignorance.
Thursday March the 8th is International Women's Day (IWD), for those who aren't familiar with it, IWD is "global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity"
To mark this day of celebration Fern and her friends over at the University of Leicester's Feminist Society have decided to run a tattoo competition to demonstrate that any stigma attached to women for having tattoos is wrong and is disappearing. Fern wanted to give the tattooed women of Leicester University an opportunity to share their tattoos and the stories behind them.
This "double-barrelled" competition is open to all self-identifying women who are currently students at Leicester University.
The first "barrel" will be judged by myself, my tattooist and best mate Laura TCB of Voodoo Tattoo in Warrington and tattisfaction.co.uk's first Featured Artist, Libby Wells currently of Needlework in Lightwater (mostly by Laura and Libby if I'm honest). You can enter by contacting Fern via the University of Leicester's Feminist Society Facebook page (the link is in the pictures). All you have to do is send a photograph of your tattoo to Fern (with or without a background story, that's up to you) and you're in. Free, Gratis and for nothing.
The winner will be notified by Fern in due course.
So what do you win?
The lucky winner will get what every tattoo nut wants...free tattoo time!
Tattoo 2000 in Leicester have kindly donated a £50 voucher so that the winner can take themselves off and have their fix of ink related discomfort without having to worry about the money. So, come on ladies, share your tattoos they might just win you another one.
The second "barrel" is an entirely new concept to me, you can actually enter this tattoo competition even if you haven't got a tattoo.
Fern is also looking for the best feminist tattoo design, so this is your chance to get in touch with your artistic side and design a new feminist tattoo. Fern and the ladies at the UoL Feminist Society will pick a winner who will receive some (I believe) original artwork kindly donated by EmJay Tattoo in Leicester.
So that's it, if you're interested in entering or just want some more information, get in touch with Fern via Facebook. The competition closes on Friday March 9th so you need to get cracking.
About the Collaborators
Fern Kenney - The Instigator
Fern is a second year Sociology student at the University of Leicester and is the Feminist Society's Publicist. While she has no tattoos herself, she does see them in her future. Fern's fascination with tattoos stems from her father's extensive collection and from watching Kat Von D on LA Ink. Fern had ambitions to become a tattooist herself but says that the dream went out of the window when she accepted that she can't draw (I feel your pain, Fern).
Fern had the idea to run a tattoo competition after seeing a picture of an elderly woman, "she looks bad ass!", thought Fern. That photograph got Fern to thinking about how many women she knows who have tattoos that don't fit the stereotype of "inked women" and before you can say, "Bob's your uncle and Fanny's your aunt".....the first University of Leicester Feminist Society tattoo competition was born.
Laura TCB - Judge
Laura is a very talented tattoo artist with a background in graphic design. Fourteen years ago she turned her hand to tattooing and never looked back. She's currently part of the team over at Voodoo Tattoo in Warrington, owned by the award winning Paul Saunders (son of Northern tattoo legend Saz Saunders). Laura is an incredibly versatile artist, my best mate and the artist I now trust all of my tattoos to, racking up over 40 hours in her company while she jabs with with needles.
I particularly love her colour work (to the point of spending 24 hours and a lot of money on getting her work on my back), she's a cover-up specialist and an accomplished belly dancer, not that that will help much here.
Libby Wells - Judge
Libby was the first and sadly, so far only, artist to take up the tattisfaction.co.uk offer of free promotional work for tattoo artists. Lucky me! She's brilliant! Libby comes from a very artistic family and, fortunately for people who prefer their art in their skin, she picked up a tattoo machine and the rest is history.
In addition to being a very talented tattoo artist, Libby is a dab hand with a brush, paint and canvas. I love her black and grey work in particular and I'm still struggling to find an artist who does birds better than Libby.
Jason K (AKA Me) - Grumpy old git/Middle man
Having almost zero artistic ability, I find myself working in the sales department of a marketing company. I've been a tattoo nut since the lick 'em and stick 'em days of Bazooka Bubble Gum and became a keen student of tattoo history and have spent 50+ hours (I reckon) slowly turning my pale Irish skin blue and green and red and you get the picture.
I put this site together to hopefully give some assistance to those of virgin skin, for whom getting that first tattoo can be a pretty daunting task. The aim being to steer people away from bad tattooists and bad tattoos. I live in hope.
Once upon a Saturday afternoon in 1987 a 17 year old Psychobilly sat on the 632 bus, his hair stuck up in an outrageous quiff, his leather jacket battered, his jeans ripped, a Marlboro hanging from his mouth and a newly acquired copy of the 1984 album "Stampede" by The Meteors in his hands.
As he sat examining the sleeve of his new acquisition (in a way that only people over a certain age will remember) he read the immortal words, , "Cheers to Lal Hardy for providing the tattoos". He decided that day, that one day, he'd get himself to London to get tattooed by the same guy as The Meteors' lead singer, Paul Fenech.
Well, that never happened but....
...thirty years later, an email arrived via his website asking if he'd be willing to accept a copy of Lal Hardy's new book and do a review for it. I didn't need asking twice.
So enough of the preamble...Tattoo: An Illustrated Miscellany, is it any good? You bet your arse it is!
I have to admit, I wasn't quite sure what to expect, books filled with great tattoo work are ten a penny and I wasn't sure that I'd be impressed with yet another, even if it did have Lal Hardy's name on it. To my joy, I found that that is exactly what "Tattoo: An Illustrated Miscellany" isn't.
So what is it, exactly?
Well, it's difficult to be exact about a miscellany because...well, it's a miscellany. The best way I can describe it is that, it's a tattoo museum in book form, if you love tattoos, love history and find fascination in curiosities then you will love this book. I find myself guilty as charged on all four counts.
We begin with a foreword by Essex University's heavily tattooed Dr Matt Lodder. Dr Lodder is, in his own right, a fascinating guy and one of the world's leading authorities on the history of tattooing and, as such, is the perfect person to introduce us to Lal Hardy's new book.
The rest of the book is a treasure of previously unpublished photographs of tattoo related collectibles, artifacts, equipment and novelties gathered together by Lal and other collectors of tattooing history such as Dutch Master, Henk Schiffmacher (AKA Hanky Panky) among others.
Everything you can imagine is in here and a good few things you wouldn't have imagined. Of course, there are tattoo machines and a variety of tools used to apply tattoos before the advent of electricity. There are toys, flyers, fan cards, cigarette cards, and badges. You will find autographs, a collection of old "lick and stick" tattoos from bubble gum, (I even remember applying some of them back in the day) and there are even instructions on how to tattoo your chinchilla.
All of this is neatly divided into short pictorial chapters, each with a short introduction or anecdote from Lal Hardy. I have spent hours slowly and carefully poring over the pictures, each of which has a usually fascinating explanation of what it depicts or why that particular item should be considered historically important to the tattoo world.
I can't overstate how much I love this book, the quality of the finish is superb, it not only looks good, it feels good in your hands. The written parts of each chapter are just long enough to keep your interest and not long enough to have you abandoning it half way through to look at the pictures....and it is the pictures that had me enthralled throughout and to which I keep returning.
If you have any interest in tattoos, tattooing and how the art got to where it is today you should get yourself a copy before you do anything else.
As for me? I'm off to buy a chinchilla !
Tattoo: An Illustrated Miscellany by Lal Hardy yours for a measly £20.
Well this is a first! I'm reviewing a book!
That means that for the first time in a long time I've actually read a book. The book in question was "Ink" by Alice Broadway and I've been looking forward to this one for a while. A novel about tattoos? Of course I'm going to be all over that. "Ink" isn't what I expected, not what I expected at all but, you know what? That's a good thing!
So....anyway...away we go!
Well first off, this is one good looking book. Quite possibly the best looking book I've read but should we, given the story it contains, judge a book by it's cover?
Secondly, at 46 I am a long way from the target demographic that this novel is aimed at. Young adult, I am not. That said, I really enjoyed this book, loved it in parts, bemused by it in others and was genuinely surprised by the ending. So what's it all about?
"Ink" is the story of Leora Flint, a teenage girl coming to terms with the passing of her father, final exams and the start of her working life. All very straightforward, teen angst, grief and stress, or so you would think.
However, Leora lives in a Saintstone and Saintstone isn't like other places. In the world that Leora lives each and every inhabitant is tattooed, their life's successes and failures, their age, their family history, everything even their name (which is tattooed at birth)...all documented and immortalised in "marks" in their skin and many of these marks are obligatory, state approved tattoos. Of course, the residents can continue their own story with designs of their own, but the basics? They are determined by the state.
The "Marked" live happy lives, they are kind and truthful, honest and caring. There is almost no crime, the future is mapped out for them, their skills assessed and their place in society determined by the time they leave school.
When the good folk of Saintstone die, their story is flayed from their body and turned in to the pages of their book. This book and the tale of the soul who owned it are then "weighed" to determine how good or bad the soul was. The good books go back to the family to be placed in their libraries, their stories there to be re-read and remembered for all time, the bad books are tossed into the fires of judgement and destroyed, their owners doomed to become "The Forgotten".
The only cloud in the idyllic Saintstone sky is the one they call "Blanks".
"Blanks" are long since banished, wholly despicable, murderous, child stealing terrorists who have no marks and who are a constant threat to the Saintstone way of life. At least that's the official line.
It is in this environment that the incredibly gifted but shy, Leora embarks on an emotional journey of discovery, nothing in her life is at it seems. Truth and fiction blur, everything and everyone she has known is not quite what their tattooed stories suggest. Everything she has believed comes into question, her very faith is shaken and her very own life is something very different from the one she knew.
Fans of the Divergent series, Hunger Games and Maze Runner will find a comfortable familiarity in "Ink", itself the first part of what will be a trilogy. I for one would look forward to seeing "Ink" on the big screen.
Where "Ink" differs from it's predecessors is that it lacks the all action battles, the acrobatics and the heroine, while clearly destined for greatness of some sort in the future, displays little more than being a confused teen for the most part. Talented, smart and a little awkward, Leora is a champion for geeks everywhere and she does it all without the grace of her more famous counterparts.
Yet, when she does eventually open her wings to fly, boy does she fly!
If you want to know more, read the book. I'm not going to spoil it for you by spilling the beans on the tale itself. It is worth the read and that's all I have to say about that.
I found some parts of the book quite predictable but I say this more because I'm thirty years older than the target demographic rather than because the book is predictable (if that makes sense). The stories taken from Marked faith lean very heavily on well known fairy stories and famous mythology, but I suspect there is a message in this fact rather than a lack of creativity, as some other reviews I've read have suggested. The tale that tells the story of how the Marked and the Blanks came into being isn't one I recognise and, if it is original, the Brothers Grimm would have been very proud of it.
Alice Broadway tells a great story, it is clever in it's originality but it has the comfortable feeling of familiar ground. There is political intrigue, religious doctrine and an "Inker" who reads minds (much like my tattooist seems to read mine...hang on...she's called Laura!). My own struggle to understand Faith and religion and the difference between the two are mirrored in Leora. The sabre rattling speeches of Enoch Powell, Donald Trump and others of their ilk would find a happy home among the leadership of the Marked and the real or imagined shadow of the Blanks could just as easily be the spectre of Islam that, as we are so frequently reminded, looms over the West.
For me, "Ink" was a refreshing change, the lack of "action scenes", in my opinion, allows the reader to know more about who Leora is, rather then what she can do. It allows us to focus on her emotional development rather than her development of martial arts. We've all seen the feeble young girl get knocked out only to avenge the defeat in spectacular fashion. She isn't Katniss Everdeen or Tris Prior, not yet at least, unlike Katniss and Tris, I won't have to use Google to remember her name. What ever the Scales say when the time comes, Leora Flint will be remembered.
"Ink" is an incredibly clever book.
Get "Ink" by Alice Broadway by clicking the link. You might just thank me for it.
This could be the ultimate demonstration of love and trust or maybe just a demonstration of how nuts you are. Whatever it is, it sounds like it will make for good viewing.
At the moment Gobstopper TV are casting for a new TV show to be filmed at the end of November and early December in which friends, family and lovers entrust the design of their next tattoo to each other.
The details are all a bit hush hush at the moment but Amy at Gobstopper TV tells me that this new show is for a huge, global TV company and will feature top tattoo artists who can boast "big hitting" clientele.
So, if you are outgoing and have a similarly outgoing friend, family member or significant other and you have a desire not only for your fifteen minutes of fame but a top drawer tattoo, done by a top drawer artist why not drop Amy a line at firstname.lastname@example.org. Don't forget to send a recent photograph of you both and your contact details (oh, don't forget to mention that you saw it on Tattisfaction, it won't help you land a place but it would be nice to know if a Tattisfaction reader got on the show).
More details of the who, when and where will be released in due course and I will update this post as soon as I have more news.
Cheers and good luck.
Free Sample Offer Now Closed
Tattoo aftercare is a big deal. Everyone of the millions of people who get tattooed every year has to go through their own regime until their new tattoo is healed.
The big question everyone seems to ask is, "What is the best thing to put on a new tattoo?" The answers are varied which begs the question, "Does anyone actually know what is THE best tattoo aftercare product?"
My answer, as anyone who has read my aftercare page will know, has been Bepanthen for many years but that may be about to change, thanks feed back regarding Bepanthen via this website an also to an email I received a week ago.
I have unreservedly recommended Bepanthen for years, there's been nothing in it for me it has just been the one product that served me well with no issues what-so-ever. However, there has been recently feedback from the aftercare page that suggests this is not the case for everyone. The lanolin within Bepanthen can in some cases cause a quite unpleasant reaction. This news has caused me to consider reviewing how I recommend Bepanthen and then I got the email.
This email brought to my attention a product called "Nature's Balm" produced by a British Company called Coconut King, if the reviews on this product are to be believed I may never recommend anything else, ever again.
OK, so what do they say? Well, I'll come to the feedback on the product later, however Coconut King themselves claim,
"It can speed up wound healing and can be used to treat acne, psoriasis, eczema, fungal and other minor skin infections. I's excellent for tattoo, piercing and tanning aftercare. Used daily it can reduce the appearance of wrinkles and delay ageing of the skin and can even be used as sun protection."
Now these are bold claims but if true then Nature's Balm is a genuine wonder product. Keep reading and you can find out how to get your hands on some free of charge.
Nature's Balm is 100% natural and 100% vegan friendly, it contains coconut oil, shea butter, carnauba wax, hemp oil and golden jojoba oil. According to the marketing material coconut oil has natural anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory and anti-fungal properties. It is also an excellent moisturiser. It also says that studies have shown that is very effective increasing hydration and reducing water loss in dry skin.
After a conversation with the owner of Coconut King I have secured some free samples which I'm going to give away via Facebook (if you want to try it hit the link at the bottom of the page and find out how you can). My tattooist has agreed to give some to her customers and while I have no new ink myself to try it out on, I have tried it on a minor skin condition I've had for a while. After three days, it has had a more positive effect on it than anything else I've used, be it off the shelf or prescription. So far, I'm impressed.
What I need is some feedback from the tattooed folk of Britain and to get that, you have to try it and ten people will get to do that free, gratis and for nothing. All you have to do is head over to my Facebook page (link below) "like" the Tattisfaction Facebook page and share the post and once 100 of you have done this I will send 10 samples out to randomly selected people. In liking and sharing you are agreeing to feed back on Nature's Balm, I have no vested interest in what you say one way or the other, I just need to know what you think.
So if you'd like to try Nature's Balm, free of charge, hit the link, like page, share the post and away you go. OFFER NOW CLOSED!
What they are saying about Nature's Balm?
"I purchased a tattoo aftercare last month from coconut King and was very impressed with how quickly it helped to heal my thigh tattoo , it stayed on my skin and kept it moisturised long enough between applications. I chose the sweet orange fragrance and it did smell good enough to eat and the packaging was also great .. A cute little tin that was easy to take in my bag and re-apply when I was out and about . I still have loads left you only need a little it really does go a long way.
I would highly recommend this product to everyone with a fresh new tattoo .. Great product I definitely rate this with 5 stars."
Michelle from Buckinghamshire
I got a free sample of this at tattoo jam this weekend and have been using it on a hand tattoo for two days now and unlike other products I have used it is not greasy and does not sting seems to be a very good after care product ...will be recommending it to my local tattoo shop."
Gary from Newcastle upon Tyne
Awesome product bought it on Friday after getting tattooed and it's worked so much better than anything else I've used on previous tattoos. It's even improved the look of my 2 month old tattoo! And my skin is super soft now !
Lauren from Middlesbrough
There are many more reviews here on the full range of products Coconut King are producing and I am very much encouraged by the fact that some of these reviews are from tattooists themselves and the fact my own limited experience with it has been so positive.
So there you have it, do the click, the like and the share and you could be trying something incredible very soon.
I'm a firm believer that when people with a great story to tell make that story available to you, you should listen. Over the years I've heard Gordon Banks tell how he got into goalkeeping by being tall and just happening to be at a bus stop next to a football pitch upon which one team was short of a goalie. I've heard Frank Dick tell the story of how he guided Daley Thompson to his Olympic glories, I've heard two ordinary women who work for a bank tell the story of how they rowed across the Atlantic Ocean and I've heard Norman Whiteside tell the story of what it felt like to be the youngest player ever to appear at a World Cup. There are more to add to the list, some famous, some not and last night I added another to the roll.
Tucked between Chorley and Leyland in Lancashire you will find a very new, rather small and quite pleasant place called Buckshaw Village. A place where around 4,000 people have made their homes and the place I found myself on a blustery Friday night in September. There, in a community centre that serves as the local church, I had the pleasure of hearing Dr John Sentamu speak.
Who? Maybe the name Dr John Sentamu isn't one you are familiar with, I wasn't until two weeks ago but I was aware of his job (I just didn't know he was the one doing it). You've heard of the Archbishop of York? That's John Sentamu.
Now, don't run off...this isn't a tale of epiphanies and a glorious awakening and there is a bit right at the end for the tattooed folk out there.
It's not everyday you see the Archbishop of York in a community centre built on the sight of the old Royal Ordinance Factory so I went, partly to accompany my girlfriend and partly because...well, it's the Archbishop of York. Not being the religious type myself, I had that fish out of water feeling you get when you are a fish and you aren't in water and what followed was utterly surreal.
I hadn't expected proceedings to begin with a Parkinson style interview about music. It came as little surprise that the good doctor isn't a fan of Heavy Metal I just hadn't expected that to be a topic of conversation and I hadn't expected things to be so....well, laid back. I hadn't expect HIM to be so laid back. Where was the incense? Where was the prepubescent choir? No talking in Latin?? What on earth is this??
Moving on from music he told of his life in Uganda under Idi Amin (You've heard of him, right? Big bloke, a bit on the irritable side, fond of a uniform), how he found faith and how he was tortured and expected to die. Then he did a drum solo.
The floor was opened up to questions and one lady was thrown out of the room in response to hers. OK, so he let her back in, he was illustrating a point. Then he gave her a lesson in playing the drums.
I sat, at the back of course, utterly stunned. This was not how I envisaged an Archbishop.
After an hour so of this incredibly funny and inspirational man's speaking my mind was, to be quite honest, blown. Not just by what he said but by what he did; drums, temporary evictions, the lot. Oh and then there's his voice....if Morgan Freeman was Ugandan, he'd sound like John Sentamu.
Before we left, my girlfriend decided (being as much in the "Believe" camp as I am in the "I'm not so sure" camp) to go to him for a blessing, getting blessed by an Archbishop is a big thing you know. With a little coaxing I went with her, not for a blessing but I needed to see this guy up close. He found my lack of faith genuinely amusing, he didn't mock me, deride me or shun me and just speak to the faithful...he cracked up at my protestations, he suggested a career as a stand up comedian and then told me a joke about the difference between Jehovah's Witnesses and Skodas.
I could feel myself sweating, I was being dismantled with the kind of ease you usually see reserved for five piece jigsaws. My head was now mashed but not so mashed that I didn't seize the opportunity to ask about the God vs Tattoos debate. Having seen so many posts and comments on the internet saying how tattoos are sinful and how Leviticus says...blah blah blah, I had to ask one of the most prominent religious figures on the planet what he thought, well you would, wouldn't you?
The man just looked at me funny, as if I'd just asked the most ridiculous thing ever and said, "God takes you as you are". That was it. No clarification, no expanding on his point. Just that and as far as I'm concerned, that is that.
In future, whenever a Christian tells me how sinful my ink is, I will no longer need to explain myself, no longer have to contradict the Bible, I will simply say, "Really? Well the Archbishop of York said....".
This is Josef Craig, he's Britain's youngest Paraympic gold medalist. Still only 19 years of age, Josef has just been disqualified from appearing in the 100m freestyle final of the IPC European Championships (despite winning his heat) in Madeira because.....he failed to cover up his tattoo!
in 2012 Josef won gold at the London Paralympics yet, four years later, the tattoo which celebrates his achievement is considered "advertising" by the International Paralympic Committee.
A spokesman said, " Body advertising is not allowed in any way whatsoever and that includes the Olympic rings. The athlete did not wear a cover and was therefore disqualified." He went on to say, "All teams are informed of the advertising policy at a technical meeting prior to competition so it wasn't as if they had not been reminded about the rules."
Of course, you can take the stance that he knew the rules and it's his own fault for failing to cover the tattoo up, something he did do in the heats. Alternatively, you can ask, "What is he advertising?" Does he get paid to advertise the IPC? I'd have thought not. Will people rush to join the IPC? erm.....on this evidence, probably not.
This young man celebrated a remarkable achievement with a tattoo and today he's been punished for it. He's taken no drugs, he's had not been involved in blood doping, he hasn't deliberately hampered the opposition....He's had a tattoo, which I suspect he paid for and equally suspect he's received no payment for displaying it.
To my knowledge tattoos have yet to be proven to make people swim faster and they are at best only as streamlined as the skin they are embedded in yet, despite winning his heat, he will sit out the 100m final on a bullshit "advertising" technicality".
Apparently, the Olympic rings are, "... the exclusive property of the International Olympic Committee. They are marked protected around the world and can not be used without the IOC's prior consent." Are we to expect sanctions against every Olympic and Paralympic athlete who ever had the IOC's five rings tattooed upon them?
Josef, a cerebral palsy sufferer, who hails from Jarrow sensationally set TWO world records at the age of just 15, is still eligible to compete in the 400m event, provided he covers the tattoo up.
I know sports have rules but in a world where footballers dive to gain an advantage, a world where doping is increasingly common place and a world where cheating has almost become the norm, apparently using the Olympic rings without permission is unforgivable.
Football has resisted video replays, allegedly because it will slow the game down (or could it be because the richest clubs might now and again suffer at the hands of video evidence). Corruption and cheating has marred every sport to one degree or another and has remained largely unchecked yet this young man from the North East of England is disqualified for celebrating and commemorating his own outstanding achievements with a tattoo.
I wonder if FIFA would punish Lionel Messi were he to win the World Cup and then celebrate it with a tattoo. I believe not. If only, Josef Craig competed in a sport where money mattered more than the finer points of its own rules.
For many years tattoos were associated with, shall we say, the tougher members of society, warriors, soldiers, sailors, airmen and erm.....those whose grasp of the law was somewhat loose. These days that view isn't quite so common but an American study, published in the American Journal of Human Biology, suggests there may be some truth in it.
In a press release from the University of Alabama, Dr Christopher Lynn likens getting tattooed to going to the gym when you're out of condition. The first time you go it hurts, a lot, it takes days to get over the aches and pains but, if you continue to train, your body adjusts and it becomes more tolerant to the stresses and strains of a rigorous work out.
As Dr Lynn puts it, "After the stress response, your body returns to an equilibrium. However, if you continue to stress your body over and over again, instead of returning to the same set point, it adjusts its internal set points and moves higher.”
In short...You get stronger!
Well, apparently, getting tattooed could be just the same.
The first tattoo you get can actually reduce your tolerance to minor infections, such as the common cold, but the more you get the more your immune system adjusts and helps you to fight off such illnesses.
So how did Dr Lynn come to this conclusion? Well, he found 29 volunteers, (24 women and five men) who submitted to saliva testing before and after tattoo sessions. His team measured levels of Immunoglobin A, what Dr Lynn calls a, "...front line of defence against some of the common infections we encounter..." and Cortisol, a hormone known to suppress the immune system in times of stress.
After the first tattoo, the levels of Immunoglobin A dropped due to the Cortisol's response to the stress of being tattooed, this was apparently as expected. However, in people who were tattooed frequently, this reduction in Immunoglobin A was less marked.
When you get tattooed your body gears up to fight infections, your new tattoo is an open wound and therefore a possible gateway for infection. Your body knows this and gets ready to do battle with any nasties trying to gain entry. If you are tattooed regularly your body, it appears, puts itself on permanent alert making you more able to stave of minor infections.
Personally, I think there may well be something in this. In the days before I was at the tattooist almost every month I used to suffer greatly when I got a cold (not man flu, that's not real). My colds would drag on for months, but now if I have a cold for a week, I'm surprised.
Did I ever make the connection between the two? Nah, I'm not an Associate Professor in Anthropology, but Dr Lynn is and he knows science and shit, so I'm going with it.