My head, face and neck tattoo adventure in London - part one

Tuesday 17th November

This was the beginning of my little adventure as a completely head to toe tattooed man.  For four days I would live the experience.  Would I be shunned?  Would I even be making myself vulnerable to physical attack at worst and at best the subject of casual verbal abuse.?

I had all my hair shaved off and most of my beard and had a waxing so my body can be easily painted.  Next begins the process of full transformation.

Wednesday 18th November

I set off from Bristol with my dogs and having walked them, drove on to London.  The M4 was closed causing a big diversion.  I stopped at Hounslow about 1:00 pm.  It took almost three hours to cross London, so much for the effectiveness of the Congestion Charge.

Thus my arrival at Natalie Sharp's was delayed until 4:00 pm. This was not the start I'd hope for. But Natalie began the task of painting my head.  She is very careful with her work and it took her three and a half hours to cover my head, face and some of my neck, but happily she was really enjoying herself. She sees her work with tattoos as an important part of her body painting portfolio and I was the most unusual piece of tattoo work that she had had commissioned.  Let's hope this helps get her more work in film and TV.

And here is the state of things at 7:30 pm.  I am very excited about it and can't wait to get out there. The ink is meant to survive for three or four days, so I can live the experience in east London.  This work looks very close to what I would do if I had it tattooed for real.

Natalie said I should come back tomorrow to finish my neck and do my lower arms and hands.  How generous.

So I then headed for my AirBnb accommodation in Bethnal Green.  I was late for my meeting with my friend Jo in Shoreditch.  Much to my surprise, my host Caitlin, who I had never met before, told me to get myself and dogs in her car and she took me to Shoreditch.

What happened next was not what I had expected.

Jo was very complimentary about my transformation, which made for a soft landing.  We had some pizza and then went for a walk down Brick Lane.  There we encountered a group of Latin Americans and one Englishmen.  They all seemed quite excited to meet us.  They were from Brazil, Colombia and Peru, where I had once lived.

And the significance of this?  My adventure was in part to discover just how life would be as a fully tattooed man.  I had wondered if I would become isolated and that I would emotionally withdraw somewhat.  But immediately it seemed like my fears were misplaced.

I had decided not to volunteer that my ink was not permanent but that proved unfeasible when getting into a chat with strangers as soon as they asked does it hurt, are they real?  It was not in my mind to weave a story based on lies.  The Englishman asked me to be honest, anyhow and I was.

As I walked the streets nothing happened.  The world didn't swallow me up and I am gaining in confidence.


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