Me, myself and my tattoos

I’ve been thinking about doing a blog post about my tattoos for a while but I wasn’t sure that anybody would be interested. For one thing – it’s not theatre related! (Although most of my tattoos are.) Then yesterday (25/03/14) I had a tattoo done that was very personal to me and posted it on twitter. One of the responses was “you have some of the best meaningful tats ever!!” – this absolutely made my day.

Every tattoo I have is to document a certain moment in my life or something or someone that has had an impact on my life – I don’t just get tattoos for fun. I don’t want a tribal tramp stamp or a cluster of stars behind my ear because they wouldn’t mean anything to me. Every tattoo I have has been carefully planned and designed by me with the help of my brilliant tattoo artist Mike (at 2nd Skin Tattoo) who has done every tattoo of mine except the first one. My tattoos tell my story so far, and as I continue to learn and grow as a person, I will continue to add to my collection.

Below are the tattoos I have so far, with a little paragraph explaining what they mean to me. You can look at just one or all of them and please feel free to comment on them (but be nice – they’re permanent!)

1. “Sometimes the dreams you come in with, may not be the dreams you leave with.”

This was my first tattoo, done on my 18th birthday (10/09/2012.) Deciding what to have for my very first tattoo was incredibly difficult – I had lots of ideas but I wanted the first one to be something very special. I chose this quote, from the musical Rock of Ages, because the show was a big part of my life at that time, and continued to be until the last show on the West End in November 2013. I know other people who have this quote too – some have lifted the quote directly from the script like I did, and some have a slightly different version. I chose to stay true to the script because that’s how Nathan Amzi, my first ever Lonny, always said it in the show. This is the version I heard first and the version that really resonated with me. It’s a reminder to me that your dreams can change, but that doesn’t make them any less important.

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2. “Yesterday is just a memory.”

This is also from Rock of Ages, and is placed on my left shoulder (it’s hard to tell from the picture) and it’s from the song “High Enough” originally performed by Damn Yankees. The placement of this tattoo is very important – every time I am tempted to look over my shoulder/look back on what has already happened in my life, I am reminded that it is just a memory. It can’t hurt me any more, I can’t change it, it’s best to move on and make new memories.

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3. “So just close your eyes, honey here comes a lullaby.”

Again, placement is very important with this one. The lyrics are from the song “Lullaby” by Nickelback and are on my ribs on the left – close to my heart (as cheesy as that is.) This song pretty much saved my life – I struggled with crippling depression in the first two years after my Grandad died, and any time I was feeling particularly low I would watch the music video for this song, because it felt like Chad Kroger was singing directly to me. I’d been a Nickelback fan for around seven years when they announced their UK tour and when the band performed this song, Chad Kroeger pointed directly into the stand where I was sitting. Call me superstitious but to me, that was a sign and I had the lyrics tattooed on me a week later.

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4. My owl.

This was done on Halloween 2012 – the day before the two year anniversary of my Grandad’s death.The owl is to represent my Grandad who I always called “Wise Old Owl.” He’s sat on a cherry-blossom branch because, when he was 75, he travelled to Japan with my Auntie to see the cherry blossom trees in bloom. The script underneath is my Grandad’s handwriting which my artist meticulously copied and tattooed for me.

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5. Ofelia.

Yes, this tattoo has a name. She is a Day of the Dead woman, and I am very aware that she is not to everyone’s taste! I studied Spanish language and culture for four years from GCSE through to A Level, and it absolutely fascinates me. She is named after the little girl in “El Laberinto del Fauno” – Pan’s Labyrinth.

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6. “London Calling.”

I am very proud of this tattoo as it is the first one that I designed myself. It represents my love for both traditional and musical theatre and, of course, the West End.

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7. “Defy Gravity.”

Pretty self-explanatory if you’ve seen or heard of the musical Wicked!

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8. Lupus butterfly.

If you look closely you can see that the body of the butterfly is actually a purple ribbon, to represent my support of sufferers of the auto-immune disease Lupus. My Mum lives with this condition and I see the effects of Lupus on a daily basis. The butterfly is on my left hip, and my Mum has the exact same one on her right hip, to show that we are in this together.

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9. “La Vie Boheme.”

This tattoo is from the musical “RENT” and is the title of the song that celebrates the differences between people that make us unique – something that I believe very strongly in.

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10. “24601.”

Again, very self explanatory if you’ve seen the musical Les Miserables! (If you haven’t – where have you been?!) I have been asked on more than one occasion why the 24th of June 2001 is so important – my sister was born on the 24th of August 2001 and believes I did it for her but got the date wrong.

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11. Compass.

Another tattoo I am very proud of. This is a visual representation of the quote “go confidently in the direction of your dreams” – hence the combination of the compass and the dream catcher.

Image12. Sherrie.

Yes, another tattoo with a name. This is to represent the closing of the musical Rock of Ages and how I will always carry the show with me. Unfortunately it was VERY new on the day the show closed – I couldn’t get close to any of the cast because I was too scared that they would bump my arm (which a couple of them did.)

Image13. “Always.”

My beloved Harry Potter tattoo! You would not believe how long it took me to settle on a design. I read the first Harry Potter book when I was 11 years old, the fifth book was so heavy for me that I had to read it lying on the bed with the book propped up on some pillows, and I secretly stayed up until 2am to finish the last book. I am irrevocably in love with Severus Snape (and Alan Rickman for that matter) and this line broke me. It takes a ridiculously talented writer to elicit such emotion from one word and it’s a word that will reduce me to tears for the rest of my life.

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14. “Second star to the right and straight on ’til morning.”

I had the two stars added to my compass tattoo because I don’t want to lose sight of my childhood dreams of becoming a successful writer. I didn’t want the stars as a separate tattoo, and I think that they blend in quite nicely.

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15. “Little engines can do big things.”

I was very nervous about getting this tattoo because it shows what a geek I am! It comes from the film “Thomas and the Magic Railroad” and it is so true. I have been underestimated so many times because of my size and I have been told that “little girls” can’t do certain things – watch me! I have watched Thomas the Tank Engine all my life (my Grandad’s fault – he was determined to pass on his railway heritage somehow) so this film is very very special to me, as is this quote and the sentiment behind it.

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16. Gerald.

Yet another tattoo with a name! (In my defense I only name the ones with faces.) This is for my Grandma, just like my owl is for my Grandad. Again my artist very carefully transferred my Grandma’s handwriting on to my skin, as well as the goofy cartoon giraffe. My Grandma collected giraffes – she easily had over 200. She liked the ones that were a bit different or that had a personality – as soon as I saw this giraffe I knew he was the one. I’d love to say my Grandma would approve but I’d probably have gotten a reet bollocking for having yet another tattoo!

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17. Scroll.

This tattoo is me. I am a writer, I’ve always wanted to write and I am very lucky to have a place at a college that is going to help me to refine my skills. I decided to get this tattoo now because I have some big changes ahead – I am leaving home in June prior to starting a degree over 250 miles away in September and this tattoo represents the start of a whole new chapter in my life.

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18. Cassette tape.

Before anyone else asks: YES! I am old enough to remember cassette tapes – I didn’t just get one for the hell of it you know! This tattoo represents a large portion of my childhood. I spent hours and hours with my Nanna and Grandad listening to tapes on their old cassette player or in the car – we’d listen to Lonny Donegan on the way to the caravan in Blackpool or George Formby on the way to our favourite KFC in Blackburn. I’ve spent so many wonderful hours with my Grandparents listening to stories and songs and poetry until the tapes wore out, and I wanted a permanent reminder of those happy times. (I’ve included two pictures because it’s in a bloody awkward place and it wraps around too much for one photo.)

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19. Genie lamp.

This image was released as Disney’s official tribute to Robin Williams and it really struck a cord with me. I wrote a piece about what Robin Williams means to me (Genie, You’re Free) and this tattoo is partially a tribute to him. I also chose this image because to me, life is about finding the thing that sets you free. I felt trapped for years and my writing was always a way to escape from the world, and this tattoo is a visual representation of this.

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20. Musical heart.

Pretty self explanatory – music will forever be in my heart! This tattoo also made me part of the “elbow club”. Yes, it hurt.

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21. Keyboard.

The first instrument I ever learned to play! I was pretty crap but it taught me how to read music and gave me a new appreciation for the hard work that goes in to making music.

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22. Filigree treble clef.

This one represents my love for older styles of music -you can thank my grandparents for that!

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23. Music is my anchor.

Keeping with the music theme, this tattoo shows how music has always been my anchor. No matter what crap I’ve been through I can put my ipod on, find the right song and forget for a while. Music has definitely kept me anchored to this life more than once.

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