I got a D tattoo on my left arm when I was about 15. I was infatuated with a girl (a beauty if truth be told, named Donna) who barely knew I existed. In class one day I drew a cursive D high on my forearm. When my friends saw it they suggested I should tattoo it because my D was a thing of beauty they said.
THE TATTOO was done by a friend across the road named George Godsmark. He used indian ink and two sewing needles spaced with a match and wrapped in cotton (a la prison tattoos, I believe?) to carry out the deed.
After he had done about half of the first down stroke I had an attack of SANITY and told him to stop – I had changed my mind. This would have left a funny mark about 5 mm long looking vaguely like an unfinished letter L that could easily have passed as a skin blemish.
Of course there were some friends – I use the word advisedly in retrospect – who felt that this sudden attack of sanity on my part was actually fear of the pain (the pain was, oddly enough, negligible). With this in mind they jumped on me and held me down. I think I could just about breathe, speak and wiggle my toes and fingers. Then George, bless his soul, finished the tattoo for he too thought I was just being silly.
I, however, KNEW that the attack of SANITY had had everything to do with the expected reaction of my mother – never mind that it was considered very COMMON in 1962 to be tattooed.
After being let up I rushed home and washed and scrubbed and Dettol’ed and tried everything short of raw acid (probably because we did not have any) to remove it or make it less conspicuous. I then tried to hide it from my mom but that did not work and before long she spotted the raw, ugly mark. She was not amused but remained remarkably calm telling me rather succinctly how foolish I had been and that now I would have to live with it for the rest of my life.
Which was the same as calling it the mark of Cain and, of course, I have lived with it the rest of my life!
You should also know that we were living in Queensdale flats and I think only Southerton or parts of Waterfalls were considered perhaps less salubrious than living in Queensdale – never mind Queensdale prefab flats – in those days. Even though there were many respectable people who lived in these areas they somehow had a bad rep. We lived in Queensdale flats because it was all my mother could afford as a widow with three children and a dog!