Thursday, 6 October 2011

Of tattoos, piercings and old age

One of the worst things to happen to Adam, Eve and their progeny, which I imagine includes me, was when God decreed that we should suffer old age. If Eve had resisted that silly apple, man and woman would not have toiled, we – the male of the species – would have no Adam’s apple stuck in our throat, we wouldn’t have had to buy clothes (and get them to match and fit) and we wouldn’t have felt cold or hot and sticky. If only Eve had preferred the now proverbial kiwis.

Now I don’t wish to rage against old age at all. After all, I’m practically there – just five short years from the ID that grants me cheap tickets to opera and bus rides and free ferrying to and from Gozo. Oh the excitement of it all: plying up and down the Malta-Gozo channel all for free. Seeing all those harried eye surgeons trying desperately to jump queues would give me good fun.

Then, after the magical ID card that proves beyond all doubt that I am an old git, I might get, a few years later, a kind of pension. Then again only God knows if I will. Are those things guaranteed? Or could it be that if we keep bailing out the Greeks and the other naughty members of the eurozone with loads and loads of euro dosh, the Finance Minister of Malta might have to say: Forgive me, we don’t have any more euros to dish out? But, the Finance Minister will say: You can always go and overnight for free at the dazzling Acropolis, which might then have become a Finnish hotel. So, hopefully, by the time I’m still sane and hale enough I might be pensioned off by the state to do nothing after a lifetime of toil, trouble and dishing out taxes. And after a lifetime of longing to do nothing while being paid, I will yearn to do something useful to keep busy. Are we descendants of Adam ever happy or are we damned to eternal grumbling because of that silly fruit?

Maybe by the time I retire, Tonio Fenech, or whoever might be the next financial supremo (or supreme fiasco), will have found a way of getting the Gozo ferries to carry all old-age pensioners not just to Mġarr but also to the port of Athens. Mind you, if I’m even luckier I could get myself elected to Parliament and so be assured of some super anti-inflation pension. I will share the distinction with fellow parliamentarians of having done nothing before I retire to continue doing nothing and being paid handsomely ever after.

My gripe initially was against old age: grr, it grates so much. I should hardly complain: I’m old, it’s true, but I feel young and get others to regularly laugh at me while others are young, feel old and never ever laugh. It’s not how old you are they say but how old you feel. But a sure sign of old age is when I, who try to think of myself as hip (that word surely proves I’m old) and liberal and open to new ideas, act and sound as old and conservative as the Cabinet of ministers. My liberal credentials are all an illusion actually when I think how I gape and gawk and rant about some new fad or an old fad that takes off once again in a bigger way than ever. Can anyone explain what is great and lovely when you turn your body into an art gallery and into an installation piece with tattoos and piercings and stuff dangling from every nook and cranny of your body?

Hating tattoos and piercings must now place me with the detested guys who are part of the establishment. Ok, I plead guilty as charged. But let’s try examining the situation gravely, objectively and with an open mind. Anyone who disfigures, in any way, his/her body should be shot. Well, if not shot, subjected to something drastic to teach them a lesson as indelible as their tattoos. I referred to their tattooed bodies as an art gallery but most is horrid art, cheap rubbishy stuff, like a lot of the art in art galleries today.

So what is my proof that my take on tattoos is right? Let’s imagine a scenario in 30 years’ time. London looters are at it again. The scene is exactly the same as a few weeks ago: looting, setting fire and causing undue mayhem on all that is still fine and standing in 2041. The Prime Minister of England is in some foreign resort sunning himself – or by that time mooning himself as no one will then be allowed to expose himself or herself to any malicious sun’s rays. Camera pans onto the British Prime Minister: it could be the lack of proper lighting but the Prime Minister is seen covered in tattoos and piercings.

Could a Prime Minister full of tattoos and piercings be taken seriously? Would he be able to whizz back to England, sort out the rioters and be back on his holiday in less than 24 hours?

Even a football coach covered in tattoos would not command any respect. I mean can you imagine a heavily tattooed Fabio Capello shouting out his commands? Or can the respect that all Arsenal fans have for Arsene Wenger be still apparent if he had a nose ring?

Now zoom back home but imagine the tattoo generational change had happened a few years ago. We’d have our Prime Minister with a tiny tattoo (not his style to be too liberal) on his forehead saying: “Kate’s”. Now wouldn’t that be cute and homely?
Or what about Joseph Muscat’s body? His would surely be fuller than Lawrence Gonzi’s. He’d have his tattoos scattered all over him in multi-coloured garish and gayish style to resemble an amazing rainbow coat.

Then, all over his body, he’d have huge letters spelling: I LOVE… with various names tattooed: Luni, Dotty, Sue Ellen, Julian, Juliet, Jules, Fredu, Karmenu, Ġuża and anything that nearly rhymes with Michelle, JPO and Prim.

Do I need to say more? Can we trust these people if besides politicians they were also tattooed? So is it just my old, creaking creeping age that is the culprit or are tattoos and piercings just plain wrong?

This article first appeared in The Times October 6, 2011

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