18 September 2010


Whilst on holiday in Portugal this past week, I noticed a number of women with tattoos in strategic places. Of course such embellishments would normally be hidden from view but on beaches and by swimming pools much flesh is exposed and design secrets are revealed. Shirley and I are of course as tattooless as our two children are. Very probably the tattooed sector of society would think us rather square but we prefer our skins to remain unblemished and unadaorned. I guess we are crazy that way.

Having seen a wide range of tattoos of different design and merit, I decided to investigate what they might all mean and have come up with this basic visual glossary that I may extend after future beach holidays. If readers of this humble blog can assist my research I would be very grateful. So here we go.
Firstly: The Dolphin. There are many different dolphin designs. They can appear leaping on the shoulder blade, belly, upper thigh or breast. Basically this common design may be interpreted in this way "I lack design taste and a sense of the future but it is my dream to swim with dolphins - preferably dolphins that don't bite you - oh and the sea would have to be warm and calm and besides my mate Veronica got her dolphin tattoo first".
Secondly: The Mermaid. Again - quality and location of designs are variable but someone with a mermaid tattoo is showing the world that they like to go to the seaside where they sometimes eat battered fish. The mystical mermaid symbol represents a deep seated desire to meet a Premier League footballer and get married in Barbados.
Thirdly: The Chinese Symbols. Various Chinese symbols may be selected - all with different spiritual meanings that can inspire expressions of admiration from intimate onlookers such as "Oo! That's nice. Our Tracey wants one of them". The particular sophisticated shoulder example you can see above means "Pork Chop Suey with Fried Rice".
Fourthly: The Hummingbird. Obviously with its nectar sipping proboscis, the hummingbird is a subtle symbol of fertility. To wear this tattoo means that you're hoping to get laid - preferably by a Premier League footballer with a fat wallet and an Italian sports car. It shows you also like pizza and tequila shots and don't mind wearing dresses that are too tight and too short. Wearers will generally shop for their clothes in Primark.
Finally: The Tramp Stamp. These are etched on to the lower back where the wearer can't see them so the tattooist can pretty much do what he wants. There are hundreds of different designs. This particular one means "I haven't got the brains I was born with and I will leave a gap between my top and jeans even in the depths of winter just so that anybody who follows me can see the crap design on my lower back. Oh and I used to date a guy called Rory till he went off with Kaylee. The bitch."

Post script - Take a close look at this one:-
Written with very sincere apologies to any bloggers who have tattoos about their person.


  1. I'm with you on this one !

  2. I always fancied an anchor tattoo like Popeye's, but grew out of that notion aged five. Besides, I didn't have the muscles to carry it off and hated canned spinach.

    I quite like the one ones you got with bubble gum that you soaked in water and pressed on your arm until the ink came off.

    Tattoos might well be my T for ABC Wednesday, not the tattoos themselves, but photos of the tattoo shops that seem to have sprung up all over the place.

  3. Now, YP, have you heard about the fellow who had a tattoo on a particularly sensitive part of his person which normally read 'Ludo' but if he was pleased to see someone of the opposite sex, it read 'Llandudno'? (Sorry to lower the tone - just couldn't resist passing on that little gem.) ;)

  4. HELEN Please to hear you haven't got a tattoo of a koala on your rump.
    SHOOTING STICK Given your interest in Communist party badges, are you sure you haven't got a hammer and sickle tattooed in a private place?
    JENNY If I were to have a Welsh tattoo down there it would have to be Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch though after a cold dip it might just read Lch.

  5. Braggart!

    Over here "Short" becomes "Shorty's Restaurant and Truck Stop, Chattanooga, Tennessee"....

    I'm just sayin'...

  6. Now, now, boys, let's get back to reality...;)

  7. Elizabeth11:52 pm

    We demand proof, Puddo.x

  8. Olli has a mediaeval inscription from a stone on Caldey Island, Wales, on his arm, and planned it from the age of nine, with help from an artist friend. This however is unusual. I've been in tattooists (though I have no tattoos!) where there've been people looking at designs and deciding completely on a whim - - and it's there for life of course! Some people are very strange.

  9. I got my first tattoo this summer. It was a henna tattoo. Maybe henna tattoos show lack of commitment in the Big Book of Tattoo Interpretation by Yorkshire Pudding. (I looked for an image of a tattoo shaped like a Yorkshire Pudding, but alas.)

  10. What a hoot! Naughty but funny. I just wonder how all these people with tattoos are going to feel about them when they reach 80 or so. Can't you just see them now in nursing homes all comparing one another's tattoos like old wrinkly potato skins Sounds like a good Goon's skit to me.

  11. ELIZABETH If you think I'm diving in The North Sea off Bridlington harbour wall you've got another thing coming young lady!
    DAPHNE I recognise and admire the ancient South Sea Island tradition of skin decoration through the "tattoo" which like "taboo" is a South Sea Island term. I'm please that Olli's tattoo was more than a silly whim.
    SAINTLY FARIDA More should follow your example and go for the henna variety. I bet many people return from vacations regretting visits to tattoo parlours. As for Yorkshire Pudding tattoos, the idea is quite awful as I am President of the STTFF - Stop The Tattoo Frenzy Foundation.
    CHRISJ What a chilling image but why don't more young people have that time perspective? Tattoos are generally faddish and can never be satisfactorily removed. When I was a lad the only people with tattoos were a few sailors and ex-prisoners.

  12. No tattoos in this house, we're all scared to death of needles. I used to threaten Bob when he was young by saying, "If you don't behave I'm going to take you and have your ear pierced!" We don't get sick, either, because we're scared of shots. Sometimes there are benefits to being fainthearted.

  13. Guess who!8:33 pm

    What does it cost for a pirate to have a piercing done?

    A buck-an-ear, of course!!!

  14. Um, Are you SURE that your children don't have any?

  15. Katherine - If you heard them talk about tattoos you'd realise that they are more vehemently against them than I am. My indoctrination has been entirely successful I'm sure.


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