June 27: script tattoos

Script, I have noticed, has become very popular as a tattooing option. You have it above your left shoulder blade or across a swathe of belly; etched over an expanse of chest or scaling  a billowing of breast. Ideally you want it to be in foreign so that nobody can understand it or even in alien script so that you can’t even recognise the letters. If, by any miscalculation, you have decided to have yours done in English, it had better be good. Fail again, fail better was a good one. Samuel Beckett, I believe. Or believed, until I realized it was a mantra of the body building community. When you fail to lift a weight because it is too heavy, you tear a muscle  and it rebuilds, stronger. So much for Samuel Beckett. What you tend to get in English are gnomic utterances of the type What you see is what you get. Cue me looking at what I see. A bloke with a beard and a baseball cap. I’m none the wiser. Another one was I is what I is, which has the advantage of being both ungrammatical as well as redundantly circular in its argument, like a snake eating its own tail, which was  a motif the bearer should perhaps have plumped for in the first place. What you really want is something very opaque, like the first line from Finnegans Wake: riverrun past adamandeves from swerve of shore to bend of bay or whatever it is. That will keep your readers guessing. Or else Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall written backwards. With Humpty Dumpty you’ve got the lot: the Fall of Man; radical Maoist politics, Brexit and the recipe for omlettes. I’m getting my local tattooist to source me some Ancient Sumerian. Your urn of myrhh in exchange my two goats. Howzabowtit?


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