I watch my son walking down the road back to his flat.  He lives there alone.  He is 15: unusually independent for his age.  I notice he is wearing a pale blue jumper, exactly like the one I wore to school when I was his age.  He has just told me about the tattoo he’s had done on his upper arm: he lifted the sleeve of the jumper to show it to me, a drawing of a seated woman.  She is dressed in what looks to me to be the style of a 1950’s housewife.  She looks up from his arm, directly at me.  I tell him not to tell his mother about the tattoo – she won’t like it.

 

I am driving through Shelton Lock in my open-top car (it’s not raining and I’ve got the roof down).  His mother is in the passenger seat.  I don’t know why but I mention the tattoo to her.  Immediately she starts to cry, then doubles over so her head almost hits the dashboard: “he knows how much I dislike tattoos – why?”

 

Later, at the art gallery, I visit the bookshop: there is a small booklet to go with the exhibition (which I haven’t bothered to visit).  I look at it.  After a page of blurb (which I skip), there is a print of a tablet dissolving in water.  On the facing page there is a print of an interior, a room with patterned wallpaper.  Turning the page I see the drawing of the seated woman that my son has had tattooed onto his arm.  I am surprised, and reassured, to see it.  These images are all that there is in the booklet. I am impressed by the feeling I get from it, in spite of its brevity, a feeling of completeness.

 

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