This is the diary of a heavily tattooed trans woman as she makes progress towards a bodysuit. Why the tattooed toff? Because I am not as people think I should be. They assume from the way I speak and the clothes I wear that I am "normal" and are shocked when I show them my ink. I am a retired Chartered Accountant and retired BBC journalist too Now I have just started my transition this makes me more unusual.
Life with head, face and neck tattoos - part 3
Friday 20th November
Horror of horrors, much of the neck tattoo under my chin came off on my pillow last night. I feel despondent. I'd banked on three days of perfection.
After breakfast at the local cafe and English Breakfast too and much friendliness from the staff, I headed off for a walk with Twiggy and Suki and ended up at London Fields.
London Fields is an evocative name being the title of Martin Amis's eponymous novel. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/London_Fields_ The place itself is quite forgettable as a dog walk and surrounded by ugly multi-storey buildings, but I met a group of dog walkers who engaged in doggy chat. It was ultra normal from my point of view - just what happens on many days on my walks at the parks around Bristol. One of them took a photo of me with the dogs and you can see I look self confident. I feel self confident.
Then I headed back stopping at a cafe in Broadway Market. http://broadwaymarket.co.uk/
Climpsons cafe was crowded and I found myself sitting close to two South African women. We engaged in conversation and they disclosed what work they were doing in London. One of them is a photographer and with my phone she took the pictures inside and outside the cafe.
Then a walk along Regents canal that runs past Broadway Market and back to my accommodation.
Later that day I returned to Broadway Market and had coffee at another cafe, and chatted to the owner and his French wife. Mundane I know but this is how I found things. Close to me there was a young woman working intensely at her laptop, who kept sneaking glances at me. I tried to catch her eyes but failed.
That evening having again left the dogs with Milos, I went to Brick Lane, Yes, the title of another famous novel. http://www.lrb.co.uk/v25/n19/sukhdev-sandhu/come-hungry-leave-edgy
This is the home of a large community of Bengalis and everywhere there were Indian restaurants. But perversely I chose an Italian restaurant. The waitress serving me was quick to tell be that she is covered in tattoos, but her uniform covers everything up. Ludovici, who comes from the heel of Italy, says she is also a body painting model. What do you know! Lucky old me.
The male Maitre D was much taken by me too and when the bill came there was no charge for the cover or the coffee. I told him he had missed some items off. But no, this came free to the tattooed man.
I find that appearing in public the way I feel inside makes me feel quite powerful.
My mind is focussed on just one kind of extreme body modification - heavy tattooing. My body appearance has changed drastically in the past five years.
But what are other people's body modifications of choice? One is a practice known as "tight lacing", in which the users of corsets embark on reducing their waist sizes to as small at 17 or 18 inches, if they can.
It's not something that grabs me but Lacie here (www.staylace.com) has dedicated herself to the practice. There are others like her who take it very seriously. It's a fetish and not necessarily permanent. If you give up regularly wearing this special kind of corset then you will eventually revert to normal.
I have no plans to embark on this myself, but before I pass any judgement must reflect that what I am doing to myself is even more extreme. The images here are truly eye catching. I have never knowingly met anyone who is into tight lacing yet there is a big community out there who do it.
The work in my groin and pubic area has been completed. Years ago Louis Molloy did the central figure in this picture but avoided going all the way. Now Ben has tattooed a circle of clouds all around the image that goes as far as it can without inking my genitalia. This completes the work on my torso.
Added to that Ben has worked some hair detail on a much older art nouveau image originally tattooed in the nineties. Months ago Ben covered the black hair with brown. Today he gave the hair some texture.
To mark the end of this phase Ben took some pictures of my whole body.
I went to the Newport, South Wales convention yesterday. Before getting there, I spent two and half hours with a face painter who gave me fake face and neck tattoos. It was painstaking but very pleasant and enjoyable. Sam Fisher, the face painter from Longwell in Bristol, did a wonderful job and the reaction I got at Newport was quite electric. All tattooists spotted the fakery immediately and most heavily tattooed people didn't take long either. But many were unsure. One way or another I caught the eye and it led to many conversations with those attending the convention.
It was an opportunity to talk about face tattoos and how far people were willing to go. I was struck that a significant proportion of those there with some face tattoos were women. I'm not sure, but maybe more than half. One young woman I photographed, but unfortunately can't name check, has at her tender age advanced very far on neck and face.
She said she may well take it further. But others…