My late brother-in-law was a merchant seaman and like many sailors of his times, sported a crop of blurry tattoos on his forearms. His elder brother was in the Royal Navy and was similarly adorned.
Almost solely associated with sailors, tattoos heavily featured anchors and hearts and ribbons threading through various designs that professed love for sweethearts and mothers as the men ventured abroad and got up to heaven knows what.
Associated with 'foreign' goings-on since they were most usually obtained in the sleazy districts of far- off ports, they were rather frowned upon when I was young being seen as 'not quite nice.' Consequently it's hard to understand when and why 'inking' gained the hold it currently enjoys.
Maybe that sense of connection that marked men out as brother sailors links today's devotees who appear to crave association by design. Whatever the reason for being tattooed, it's obviously a trend with wide and growing appeal, embraced by women almost as much as men.
Some designs, sensitively placed are amazing works of art, others more crudely carried out are unsightly splodges that resemble giant bruises. Whatever they are, it seems anomalous that such highly individualistic choices unite people in a trend that seems driven by the need to conform and/or shock.
The New Zealand All-Blacks Rugby team with their impressive and meaningful native tattoos rippling across taught muscle is a sight to behold but Mickey Mouse riding a bike across a flabby thigh is a sight I'd rather not see again!