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Beyond the ink

 If you ask a friend what it is about you that makes you, you, what would they say? Your hair? Your eyes? Your sense of humour? Or perhaps that tattoo you have that is absolutely and completely unique? The tattoo with a special meaning, signifying something or someone who had an outstanding impact on your life? The one that you look at and your heart is flooded with memories and emotion?

Here we are in 2014 and many people have tattoos but it’s the ones with so much meaning that intrigue me and make me smile. Times and attitudes towards tattoos have certainly changed over the years; in days gone by, tattoos were stereotypically reserved for bikers, rebels, military men and other ‘tough guys’. Like the song lyrics from a great film that state  “A Sailor’s not a Sailor ’til a Sailor’s been tattooed!”

After speaking to many people, it seems that tattoos are no longer seen in a negative way but are becoming more and more popular, loved by men and women alike. Nowadays, they are seen as fashionable body art, self-expression, a personal, artistic creation on skin rather than a canvas. When I meet someone new and see that they have a tattoo, I can’t wait to ask them about it, to hear the story behind their tattoo. I find that it’s a great way of getting to know someone, finding out what is important to them, what makes them tick, what they are passionate about, who they remember and why they have a tattoo dedicated to them. They can be a great talking point and a perfect way to break the ice.

My three most significant tattoos are those on my feet and ankles. My right foot bears a purple flower with the words ‘Nanny Bess’ dedicated to my lovely Nan – the most influential person in my life. It took me three years after she died to find the strength to get my tattoo, knowing what an emotional experience it was going to be. It is beautifully perfect, just as she was and I know she would approve. My left foot has the word ‘Breathe’ which I decided to get after my husband very nearly succumbed to his Cystic Fibrosis a few years ago. A red rose and two purple hearts entwined to signify us as a couple fighting CF together – a small and simple tattoo with so much meaning. I wept happy tears as I explained to the artist about its significance. Now my husband is much improved and chuckles when he sees my tattoo. He call it his ‘instruction’ and sees it as a reminder of the strength he found. My latest edition is a heart with an infinity sign, matching my amazing friend and symbolising our ‘endless love and friendship.’ We held hands and giggled together as we each took our turn to go ‘under the needle’. Heartbreakingly, since we got these done, my beautiful friend has passed away. I am so glad we got these done before it was too late. Another emotional experience getting this one done and obviously, very emotional looking at it now but the memories and fun of that day and our friendship will be with me forever just as my tattoo will be.

I have found that tattoos are certainly something that people tend to love or hate. I asked the tattoo artist about the variety of tattoos he gets asked to do and he replied that a favourite part of his job is hearing the stories behind the ideas. “Tattoos can symbolise someone’s journey in life – show where they have been and where they are going and I love being a part of that. I love being the man to turn someone’s idea into a piece of art that they will always treasure.” There is such a wide variety of people in the world each walking a different path through life; each creating a million different stories just waiting to be told – why not have it forever etched in ink?

Many people have commented on how my tattoos tell stories of my life and the stories of my heart… and they’re right!  Next time you see someone with tattoos, why not ask them about the story behind it?  You may be surprised to learn about what lies beyond the ink!


  • I really enjoyed this article! I always say you should get one only if it means something to you or symbolises something. You stories are lovely and I bet you are proud to be able to show them! I have one and now have the urge for another! xx

  • Mrs Abby Mrs Abby says:

    Thank you Rebecca :) I have 9 and they all have special meanings. I am proud of them, they always make me smile and remember special times and people. They are addictive lol xx

  • Lydia Imirtziadis Lydia Imirtziadis says:

    I have 2 tattoos and they both mean something special to me. I think it’s very important that tattoos are meaningful – they are there for ever, after all! (Unless you have them removed, obviously, but I’ve heard that’s a million times more painful than getting it done in the first place)

  • Mrs Abby Mrs Abby says:

    Ah what do you have Lydia? :) xx

  • Great article. So I am the ‘devil incarnate’ that wrote the piece about Tattoos and Teaching and I have to say, I really enjoyed this article and found it very sweet. I am not against tattoos… I have one myself and the stories behind your tattoos were really touching. That’s for writing this, very interesting!

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