SEE THE HAPPY MORON

As somebody once wrote, and it could have been me:

“See the happy moron,  He doesn’t give a damn,  I wish I were a moron,  My God, perhaps I am.”

 This brings me effortlessly onto the present debate about tattoos.  Are they the badge of the illiterati or a fashion statement?  I suppose it depends who’s sporting them, and what is the sportsman’s message.

My experience with tattoos falls firmly into the first category.  Those of my clients, too many to mention, were what the psychologists would describe as socially disadvantaged, in other words morons.  I remember one client, big and brutish, the sort of guy whose drinking arm you definitely didn’t jog in the pub, who had an eye watering array of tattoos covering every visible part of his anatomy, and he had dressed to display them to maximum effect. No shirt, a sort of singlet, but that’s not what he called it, that’s what poofters wore, and shorts to show off his legs.  The whole was a squirming mass of grubby emotions, with nothing left to the imagination.  Political correctness came a very distant second.  He was also the same client who declined to have his knuckles tattooed with ‘love’ and ‘hate’ as love in his lexicon was a three letter word, and if nothing else, he was a stickler for symmetry.  To top it off, so to speak, he also had a thundering great tattoo across his forehead which simply read: “Mind the gap.”

At the other end of the social scale are the soi-disant celebrities, usually footballers and entertainers, and I use that term advisedly, who are either screaming at the referee or screaming into a microphone in front of brain-dead groupies who scream back.  One or two have climbed out of the pit, David Beckham is one, smothered in tattoos in homage to his family.  But I ask the question – why?  I am happily married with four delightful children, but to show my love and admiration for them and their mother, I simply need to tell them from time to time.

Then there is the problem about indelible ink and the semi-permanent nature of the tattoo.  I say semi-permanent because I am told you can have an expensive and painful skin graft to remove them.  However, the happy moron would have spent all his benefits money and more besides having his body tattooed in the first place, so nothing left over if he has second thoughts.  That’s assuming of course that he had first thoughts, unlikely in the extreme.

The second thoughts usually arise after he’s had himself tattooed ‘I luv Sharon’ and he and Sharon break up.  He has three options:  the cheapest is to leave Sharon in situ with some explaining to do to the next lucky girl who becomes the object of his affections; the second is to have an expensive skin graft, not really an option (see supra); and the third is to go in search of another Sharon.

Decisions, decisions.  This could run and run.

David Osborne is the author of three humorous books on the law. His latest, entitled Order in Court, is now available in reputable bookstores and online with Amazon.

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EVERY PICTURE TELLS A STORY

In my opinion, tattoos are the badge of the Illiterati, favoured by those at the bottom of the evolutionary tree.  My first reaction when passing these pictorial extravaganzas is to mutter: “There goes a brain dead moron.”

But despite my deep seated prejudices, tattoos remain as popular as ever, and I can’t understand why.  I am not an expert, but I have been told that once tattooed, you’ve got them for life, or at least, it takes a painful and expensive skin graft to remove them.  The dangers of disporting a tattoo “I love Sharon” should be self evident, even to the Illiterati.  When Sharon sees the error of her ways and moves on to bigger and better things, what happens when our Tracey takes her place?

Tattoos have their origins in our seafaring exploits, when our ships dropped anchor in far flung outposts of the Empire and beyond. When our jolly tars were given shore leave, they’d head to the nearest opium den and get stoned out of their skulls.  Waking up hours later, they’d find their bodies adorned with tattoos of sea serpents, fire breathing dragons and the occasional mermaid, and whether they liked them or not, they were stuck with them.

Professional footballers have inherited the vacuous intellect of our jolly tars, and with the advent of televised matches, their tattoos take pride of place on the pitch, closely followed by bouts of gobbing and snotting and falling over in the penalty area.  Their supporters, not to be outdone, have followed suit.  I read the other day of a supporter of a team from oop North who had a picture of his favourite player tattooed on his thigh, or so he was led to believe by the tattooist.  Imagine his dismay when the player was transferred to his bitter rivals two weeks later.

My most vivid recollection of tattoos came when I had a conference with a client, another innocent man subsequently convicted by the jury in record time, who had tattoos on every visible part of his anatomy, and I suspect more besides. He told me in confidence that he had decided against having his knuckles tattooed ‘Love’ and ‘Hate’, as ‘Luv’ in his lexicon was a three letter word, and if nothing else, he was a stickler for symmetry.  I suspect that the clue to this thinking lay behind the tattoo right across his forehead which simply read: “Mind the Gap”.

Vive la difference!

TWITTER BEWARE

At first blush, Twitter is one of those social networking sites specifically designed for Twits, and by all accounts, living up to their name.  They use the site to leave offensive messages which in any other medium would be illegal, and in some cases criminal, yet they seem to think they have carte blanche to write what they like.  They are restricted to 140 words, but that doesn’t stop them from purveying their prejudices in spades.

Twitter seems to exercise very little control over their users or the content of their messages.  They argue that they don’t have the time (or inclination) to monitor daily use, which on an average day can reach several thousand, if not more. But the argument that they cannot slay the monster they have created is a feeble excuse in the great scheme of things.

There are times when enough is enough, and the strong arm of the law is brought to bear on some of these Twits.  One in particular is Paul Chambers, who found himself in court and convicted under the Communications Act 2003. In his Tweet, he threatened to blow his local airport sky high if they didn’t get their act together, and he is awaiting the outcome of his appeal even as I write.

His appeal has been taken up by Al Murray, a fairly robust comedian, and Stephen Fry, who is…er…Stephen Fry, known to many without really knowing why.  With friends like these, who needs enemies, as the expression goes.

I also wonder how these offensive tweets are discovered.  Is there some poor news hound in a back office in Wapping, who is given the luckless task of trawling through Tweets to find something worth publishing?

Al Murray has written an impassioned article railing against the legal system and invoking the Magna Carta and freedom of speech.  According to the robust Murray, the offensive tweet is akin to “pub banter”, but that cut no ice with the court that convicted Chambers. The law is the law.  If you commit yourself to print, whether on a blog, a Tweet, or a website, where it can be found, then you have nobody but yourself to blame when the shit hits the fan.

It may well be that Paul Chambers didn’t mean a word of what he tweeted, and his conviction has all the hallmarks of overkill.  He may win his appeal, but there is a salutary lesson to be learned by all Twits.  Keep your opinions to yourself if they are likely to cause offence. 

However, I am persuaded by my daughter Sarah that when used responsibly, Tweets are a good way of communicating with a wider readership and generating a meaningful dialogue.  There are times when Sarah shows wisdom beyond her years, so I’m going to immerse myself in the heady waters of Twittering, and I will report back on my experiences.  Who knows, it may not be too late to teach an old dog new tricks, so watch this space, and if you get a Tweet from me, be surprised and delighted in equal measure.