Of all the animals of prey, man is the only sociable one.
Every one of us preys upon his neighbour, and yet we herd together.
The Beggar's Opera: John Gay

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

A permanent reminder

News this week from the mean streets of Clacton:
Brave fundraisers have been doing their bit for weapons awareness charity....
There we have it - Big Society in action!
..... by getting tattoos in memory of a Clacton teenager.
More than 50 people were inked with Cookie Monster tattoos in memory of Jay Whiston, who was stabbed to death at a house party in September last year.
Now, I certainly don't want to trivialise the family's bereavement; I am sure that not one day passes in which they do not think of their loss, and, in the same way, I imagine his friends are unlikely ever to forget such an appalling event, despite the efforts of those intent on witness intimidation.

But, in a way, that's just it - since it's hardly necessary as a reminder, why should a tattoo have become today's memorial of choice? Where once our Georgian and Victorian ancestors produced elaborate jewellery as a way to commemorate the departed, today's mourners are more likely to seek out the tattooist's needle.
Jay had a Cookie Monster tattoo himself and this was seen as a fitting way to remember the teen and raise anti-knife awareness.
Ah, raising awareness. Actually, I suspect that most people in Clacton are all too aware of knives, given the number of stabbing incidents the town has seen over recent months; I can't see tattoos of a muppet making much difference.
"Most of Jay’s friends have already had them, so these were mainly people who just wanted to support what we are doing."
I'd have thought a t-shirt or wristband would have done the trick admirably, but I am clearly behind the times. The event was - perhaps unsurprisingly - the idea of the tattoo artist concerned:
On both Saturday and Sunday there were two 12 hour tattoo sessions at ‘Let it be Tattoo’s’ in Old Road, Clacton.
(Let us pause for a moment to savour that apostrophe, an unwanted addition to the Studio's logo which can presumably be laid at the door of the Gazette's intrepid newshounds.)
Jay’s mum Caroline Shearer said: “It was fantastic to see so many people taking part – they had tattoos on their arms, chests, necks and even their bums."
The latter, perhaps, showed the most prudence in terms of future employability, though I suppose it is somewhat churlish to criticise, given the well-meaning intentions of all concerned.

One thing does bother me slightly, though; since carrying weapons is at the extreme of a continuum that begins with minor breaches of the law and a general lack of respect for authority and since the law forbids the tattooing of anyone under eighteen, was it really right and fitting to commemorate 17-year-old Jay by replicating his illegal tattoo?


  1. "I suppose it is somewhat churlish to criticise, given the well-meaning intentions of all concerned."

    I know exactly what you mean. So dreadfully infantile and tacky, but as you say - well-meaning.

  2. Essex again...

    *sighs harder*

  3. AKH, I find myself wondering how many of these tattoos were done on a generous impulse - and how many will end up being removed with great pain and expense.

    Talking of expense, 'more than 50' tattoos at £15 each, yet they raised £535; what happened to the other £230+?

    Julia, perhaps it's because, while many Britons were still living amid the dying remains of Roman civilization (see 'The Mists of Avalon', 'The Crystal Cave', 'Enemy of God' etc. etc.), Essex was already in the hands of mead-swilling, vainglorious, battle-crazed Saxons.