Ed Lines

AT THE risk of upsetting a large, and increasing number of readers, can I say that I don’t ‘get’ tattoos.

I ‘got’ them enough once upon a time, so much so that I ‘got’ one. You won’t ever see it though, unless you work in the endoscopy unit at whichever far-flung hospital the Mid Yorkshire Trust sends people to these days.

Even then you probably wouldn’t see it, because they make you lie on your left side for the old camera-up-yer-jacksy procedure, and my tattoo, small and perfectly formed as it is, occupies my left buttock.

TV viewers in Australia during the 4th State of Origin match in 1988 – yes, there actually was one – and the 12,000 people in the crowd at Veterans Stadium, Long Beach, might have caught a fleeting glimpse of my ‘body art’ at half time, although given that we were three stark-naked blokes running and cartwheeling up the pitch (completely sober!), they might not have been focused on my little red love heart. Mind you, whatever they were  trying to gawp at, they’d have needed binoculars.

I remember my dad had a tattoo on his forearm, a  dark blue script banner with ‘Mum’ (or was it ‘mam’?) in it.

Blokes who did time in the navy often had an anchor on their forearm and tattoos have long been common and unobtrusive enough to be unremarkable.

The challenge with young men today however – and, I’m horrified to say, more and more young women – is to work out where the Maori mural ends and the scenes from Dante’s Inferno start.

You don’t look at a muscular rugby player and think ‘oh, he’s got a tattoo of Marilyn Monroe or Elvis on his bicep’. These days you’d have to sit down for 20 minutes with a cuppa and a magnifying glass to study the muddled (and muddied) inking of the ‘sleeve’ tattoos that are all the rage.

Really, I don’t mean to offend. It’s your body, your choice. Ink away. But do you really, really think it looks good? That it’s attractive?

I was going to wonder if maybe that’s the point: Ugly blokes choose to look like they’ve been trying to rescue a gold ring from the bottom of a barrel of oil, so ladies won’t notice that they squint like Marty Feldman (and if you do manage to pull lads, be sure to keep your eyes closed when snogging – you don’t want her to go dizzy!)

But men don’t come much better looking than David Beckham, and he’s clearly content to walk around looking like his kids set about him with felt tip pens while he was fast asleep.

While blokes appear obsessed with these sleeve tattoos, girls and women seem to go for oddjob, sporadic bits of ink on different parts of their bodies – a list of their kids’ names down the back of their necks (Shamponay, Zif, Jaydonn, Kyleyewagglypie – you know, good old traditional names), a rose on a shoulder or cleavage, flowers on their feet and legs, bits of script on forearms. And of course so many of them save a treat for their boyfriend with a set of buttock antlers inked across the top of their bumcrack.


What on earth are those things about? It isn’t as though you can admire them yourself without getting a full length mirror and a stiff neck.

And then there’s old age, which clearly young people don’t think happens to them.

Do they think they’ll look cool aged 68 years old when a saggy, bingo-winged arm will just look like they were born with a map of Africa for a birthmark?

Maybe they can sit slavering and farting into their incontinence pants in the old folks home, showing old Doris what looks like a wrinkled, oversized bruise, while boasting “that’s Cherokee for Leeds United Pride of all Yokrshire” (spelling mistake intended, by the way).

In a way I do ‘get’ tattoos insomuch as they are a fashion and a fad; they are of the moment – of now, 2013.

But do you know what guys? I used to wear platform shoes, a mullet haircut, high-waister Oxford bag trousers and for a brief while, I even had tartan cuffs sewn round the bottom of my jeans.

And guess what? Despite considering ourselves too cool for cats, I, and the tens of thousands of English teens just like me, looked like complete tits.

But there was one little saving grace to our fashion failings – at least we could get a haircut and buy new clothes.

Good luck washing that little lot off your arm … or leg, back, chest, feet, neck, face…

I think maybe when I’ve had enough of this newspaper lark I might go into the laser removal business. Or skin grafts.

HUMAN misery is as sadly inevitable as it is ubiquitous; there is no cure, no matter how many politicians stomp their feet, how inflamed the BBC gets, or how many charity concerts Bob Geldof puts on.

Why? Because man has a capacity for cruelty and violence that is unique within the animal kingdom.

Thank God we have goodness; but by God, we have badness, whether in the name of power, greed, religion, bigotry or simple, pure evil.

And in Britain, we mostly have crushing arrogance about it and an insufferable view that we can and must be somehow responsible for ‘curing’ it.

I am sorry for the suffering of people in Egypt, as I am Syria. It is a human tragedy.

But it’s war and it’s not going away. And I’m tired of hearing and reading about it.

It has happened for thousands of years, and you can see it repeating itself until the last Cain on this benighted planet slays the last Abel. Maybe the next inhabitants of this violent world will make a better fist of things.

The only answer? For these third-world ‘civilisations’ to tire of the blood-letting. Grow up.

It can only be a matter of time before the Egyptian military – like President Assad in Syria, fighting the Islamist axis – finds itself a political outcast. Am I alone in thinking that all parties involved are just as bad? The faction that loses gets killed sooner or later – isn’t that the Middle East’s self-fulfilling prophecy?

So why do we take sides?

David Cameron and William Hague armed the Libyan rebels who took Benghazi and immediately flew the al Qaeda flag from the town hall. Result, eh?

They are probably doing it covertly in Syria, and as much as Egypt is an ‘ally’ for now, just wait until their military leaders really get stuck into the Muslim Brotherood.

We will end up giving aid (cash, which means weapons) to a movement that despises us. Why? Because we’ll feel guilty over the side which can produce the most pictures of kiddies in shrouds.

A Tory MP says we should throw the Egyptian ambassador out because he compared their fight against radical Islam with ours against Nazism.

Ashraf El Kholy defended his government saying: “Egyptian culture over 5,000 years is a mix of religions and civilisations in which the Islamic religion is one ingredient of the Egyptian character.” He said that while in power the Muslim Brotherhood was suppressing the closest the Middle East has got to multi-culturalism.

Isn’t that what we like?

That’s why their generals stepped in – because Islam doesn’t do ‘sharing’ or ‘democracy’. It’s a tide that never goes out. So who are we to judge a nation state with a cultural history that dwarfs ours, based on the liberal agendas of news editors at the BBC and Channel 4.

In Britain we no longer have leaders who’ll stand up to it – Westminster is stuffed with Chamberlains not Churchills.

What’s worse, they haven’t even the sense or courage to back the people willing to fight for their own countries.

And still we feel duty-bound to respond to these blood-mad lunatics using our genteel standards. We’re the mad ones.

IF JAMES BOND was for real, The Guardian newspaper would happily betray him to Dr No, Goldfinger or Blofeld. It hates what this country used to proudly be and won’t be happy until we’ve followed its failing business down the toilet.

I’m not happy the police detained US spy Edward Snowden’s Brazilian messenger boy for 9 hours. They should have banged him up in Belmarsh with some real terrorists. Sweat on that, son.

Snowden, Bradley Manning – they are not noble NHS or Wall St whistleblowers. They signed Official Secrets Acts. It makes them traitors, spies – heroes only to US/Brit haters like The Guardian.
















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