We've already met the unfortunate chap in Wolverhampton whose attempt to deter would-be customers who don't understand English earned him a slap on the wrist from the authorities, multiculturalism being, apparently, more important than the ability to communicate with the person about to ink a permanent design into your skin.
Now it's the turn of a Birmingham tattooist to attract media attention with a notice in his window:
"I don’t care if it’s your 18th next week. The answer is still no – and your children are not ID. Most of the girls in Northfield have a child by the age of 13."The last statement is, by his own admission, hyperbole* - though that may not prevent a torrent of abuse heading his way in the near future - but the underlying intention is clear:
“I put up the notice because I kept getting young mums coming into the shop for a tattoo and when I ask them for an ID they try and use the child as a form of ID.This was, he says, happening on a weekly basis, which offers food for thought when you consider the costs involved; the teenage mothers of Northfield clearly have money to burn**.
In any case, the 'House of Pain' tattooing studio hardly seems an appropriate environment for a small child - though opinion on that may differ; regular readers may remember that a mock advert for specialist children's tattoos - 'a gift for life at pocket money prices' - apparently received ten genuine enquiries from parents.
The oddest thing about this story, however, is the suggestion that the child should somehow constitute a valid proof of age. Do the mothers likewise brandish their unfortunate offspring while buying a round in the pub or purchasing age-restricted DVDs or fireworks?
And, more seriously, what is likely to become of children raised by immature mothers whose disregard for the law is matched by their willingness to abuse shop staff when their unreasonable demands are thwarted?
*But not complete fiction; official figures show that over 100 13- and 14-year-olds in the Birmingham area have given birth over the past 5 years.
**Interestingly, subsequent research has turned up this memorable quote on the subject:
'The amount of gold worn by people in Northfield could probably redecorate Tutankhamun’s tomb twice over.'