01 Aug #42 – The Girl With The Handwritten Tattoos
In Ibiza last month, a conversation between Steve, me and a pair of ‘beautiful people’ was struck up around the pool.
The pair had just arrived at our hotel, gone into the pool for a dip and one of them had got a piece of glass stuck in her foot.
I mentioned how the high winds the night before had likely blown something off of the bar and into the pool, and Steve and I were reminded to be cautious whilst wading around idly.
Whilst we were chatting about where ‘home’ was (i.e. London/ Herts/ Essex) I noticed the girl with the glass in her foot had some pretty remarkable tattoos.
Having fancied one for some time myself, but never knowing what, or why exactly (I wanted it to really mean something) I found myself examining the girl’s ink from behind my Ray-Ban lenses.
I tilted my head to focus in more on those that I could see but could not quite read. I liked the rawness of them, the fact they were not ‘perfect’ made them more appealing to me.
I complimented the girl on her body art and was repaid with several stories with which I was totally engrossed. We were told that the tattoos I had been admiring were all in the handwriting of one the girl’s friends or family members, and the words referenced a meaningful piece of advice they had individually given her on what to do or qualities to be sure to possess in her life.
My firm favourite was the swirly black ‘Speak your mind’ inscribed on the girl’s upper right arm.
I have never personally needed a reminder to speak my mind. In fact, I have always had trouble with NOT speaking my mind, to the point that my loose tongue has often gotten me into trouble and, at times, I have even been made to feel shame for saying what I really think, as if it’s somehow un-ladylike or deliberately provocative… Uncouth.
Anyway, my point is, the girl’s handwritten tattoos resonated with me. So much so that by the time we parted ways from the pair by the pool after a good, lengthy chin wag, I was seriously contemplating who I would nominate to do the honour of handwriting my own piece of ‘imperfect ink’ once back in Blighty.
Whose handwriting would I want to see for the rest of my life?
I mean, the words I wanted tattooed on me were Steve’s (his advice to me) so it would make sense for him to be the one who wrote them out. But, his all-capitals-scrawl resembles that from an ‘OUT OF ORDER’ toilet sign, so with this in mind, I went about considering others for the job (I didn’t want it looking all ‘shouty’ now, DID I!!!!)
I briefly thought about asking my best friend, Elle, but then I remembered that she is so embarrassed by her own handwriting, that she outrightly refused to sign the register at my weddings (plural), for fear of ‘ruining’ the demure look of the paperwork!
Then there was my mum… My rock. It would be apt for it to be a parent, and she and my dad both have pretty nice handwriting, but considering it was likely that they would both threaten to disown me if they came to discover what their penmanship had been required for, I thought better of it.
So the jury was still out on that one.
And by the time I’d done all this daydreaming, plus two bottles of ‘Whispering Angel’ in the early evening Ibizan sunshine around the pool, as well as finding more ‘friends’ to talk the hind legs off of (this time the subject was babies… the poor first-time preggers girl had literally lost her tan by the time we’d finished with her), Steve and I had missed our dinner reservation so rushed off to get changed.
A ‘Stars in Their Eyes’ style transformation later, and us late-comers were being escorted across the al fresco hotel restaurant by one of the forgiving staff. The sun was just about to set, and there was the kind of buzz in the air that I have only ever experienced in Ibiza.
With it being Steve’s 40th birthday treat, our last night, and his first proper Ibizan sunset (due to considerable cloud cover the previous evenings) we were seated at the table with the best view available.
It was right in the corner of the restaurant, tucked away on a platform overlooking the hotel grounds and the spectacular ocean, flanked by mighty rock faces.
Sat down next to us was the ‘girl with the glass in her foot’ and her friend. We exchanged greetings and the girl informed us she had managed to remove the glass. Steve and I responded cheerfully.
As the sun set, we took photos and there was quite a bit of “oh wow-ing” from us and the nearby table (it was especially beautiful.) This encouraged the flow of conversation with the pair we had met earlier, which swiftly turned to the food we’d all ordered.
Being Vegan, people are usually just intrigued as to how we stay alive, but the girl and her friend’s enquiries seemed to be those of more genuine interest in our lifestyle, and the benefits we have felt since ‘transitioning.’
We got to talking about our children, and how ‘going Vegan’ had ultimately been a sacrifice for them, for their future, as the meat and dairy industry has such an adverse impact on the environment. We were honest about its challenges, and how the ‘V word’ had caused some issues with our kids’ ‘other parents’ and this caused the discussion to move onto our blended family setup in general.
There was genuine interest from the other pair in this aspect of our lives.
I think there always is.
That is why I like to put it out there.
To write about it.
To be real about it.
To not pretend we are all related by blood and that it’s all plain sailing.
Because that would be a LIE!
Talking intimately about family struggles with relative strangers can make you feel wide open, but it always reaps rewards in my experience. It is as if the more vulnerable you are prepared to be with people, the more they are prepared to give back to you, and as a result the stronger the connection you can feel as human beings. It’s pretty special.
This was definitely the case with the ‘girl with the glass in her foot’ and her friend. They had seemed pretty shy and withdrawn, even wary, when we first met around the pool, but gradually as Steve and I opened up more and more about the intimate pathways of our personal lives, I witnessed, even physically felt, their guards come down and they too began to open up. Genuinely.
We ordered more wine, and as most people left the restaurant we hardly noticed, engrossed in good conversation with great company. The only thing I love more than writing!
When questioned, Steve and I were only too happy to elaborate on the way we had first come to meet, and how the experience of ‘blending’ our pre-fab family had been and how hard we had worked to make all the children feel part of something special.
We got to talking about how sad it is when parents do not want to be involved in their children’s lives, despite the kids trying to reach out, and how equally heartbreaking it is when a parent is present and loving, but is actively pushed out.
We revealed some relatively undiscovered Vegan hot-spots in Ibiza which Steve and I had found on our travels, and we talked more about the tattoos, about movies, such as Momento (the tattoo reference), and the places we like to visit when out on our regular ‘date-nights’ in London.
I gave a short wine-fuelled rendition of Curtis Steigers’ “I Wonder Why” in reference to the performer we had been to see at Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club in Soho just a week or so previous, and was complimented on my voice by the ‘girl with the glass in her foot’.
Steve told the pair that I had blown him away on our second date, in New York City, when belting out ‘Les Miserables’ numbers with a classical pianist in a Russian Vodka Bar lock-in, and that this had effectively sealed the deal for him. It was then that the ‘girl with the glass in her foot’ revealed she had actually been in ‘Les Mis’’ as a child.
With this I was well impressed! It’s my favourite musical of all time, like everrrrrr, and that coupled with the fact that the girl had gone on to become a kick ass karate champ’ as a teenager too excited me a lot (I really want Gracie to get into a martial art as a way to channel her inner anger, which is real people, it’s reeealll!)
I asked the girl what it was she did now, and she said she was still singing.
Her friend was in a band.
I asked keenly if there was anywhere Steve and I could see our new found friends perform, back home in England perhaps, and the reply was;
“How about at Ibiza Rocks, this Thursday?”
I knew then, that Steve and I were out of the loop. We had missed something here!
Clearly, we were both young (and trendy… lol!) enough to know about Ibiza Rocks, and that you had to be someone pretty spesh to perform there during Ibiza’s high season, but we were also obviously too old (or maybe to preoccupied?) to watch enough YouTube, or TickTock, or TV in general, to know who it was that was actually sitting in front of us.
Steve and I both looked perplexed.
We did not recognise either of the ‘beautiful people’, and now we suspected that one or both of them was someone ‘famous’ there were mixed emotions. I was excited to learn more, but also a little concerned that discovering their real-world status would make connection on a genuine level more difficult.
Of course, I asked for the name of the ‘girl with the glass in her foot’.
She said, “it’s Anne-Marie.”
For my sins (our 12 year old would cringe) I still had no clue.
It was only when I asked her to sing some of the songs she had done, and she told us it was ‘Rudimental’ she’d be performing with on Thursday, that the penny really dropped.
And the best reply I could muster then was;
“Ohhh! God yes… Anne-Marie… ‘Shower The Horse I’m Done?!’… Oh, our kids LOVE that song!”
(AWWWWKWARD!…. And worse still, I had sung Curtis Steigers, out loud!)
Annnnyway, long story short at this point.
With Anne Marie being a writer herself (she has written many a song, most of which I actually love, but just didn’t know who had sung them) I nicked our waitress’s order pad, and asked her if she would be the one to write out the words for my tattoo.
I was drunk, but she said yes, immediately, so today I got my ink.
“… just write”
and I bloody love it!