Friday, September 22, 2006

Friday, September 22nd, 2006:
Tattoos in Helsingborg - Pain and prosperity
(with oyster sauce)

What I think:

For quite a few years, I had wanted to get a tattoo done but, like many people, I couldn't really think of anything that I might not be embarrassed about by the time I reach puberty (which has got to happen one of these years, for God's sake).

It wasn't until about a year after I'd moved to Sweden, at age thirty-eight, that I'd finally made up my mind. I would get two tattoos on my right upper-arm, just beneath my shoulder: two flags - a Canadian one with a British one just below it. For those of you who don't know, I've got dual citizenship; I was born in Montreal, and my dad's from England. I lived in London for twelve years before moving here.

I found a nice tattoo parlour here in Helsingborg, right near the Telegrafen pub. I think I may have chosen this particular place for its name, which instilled in me such reassuring feelings of confidence, serenity, and inner peace.
It's called House of Pain.

I got the Canadian flag done first, and the Union Jack maybe a year or so later. I have to say that their professionalism was impressive, and they did a great job. They even played some classic Black Sabbath, which was definitely good for me.

I won't go into too much detail about whether it hurts or not. Those of you who have tattoos know what it's like; and it depends largely on which part of your body is being done. The upper arm is not too bad; you kind of get used to it as it's being done. It almost feels good after a while - sort of a pleasure/pain thing. You're basically getting a few ink-filled needles stabbing you in a rhythmic sort of sensory drone.

So I've had these tattoos for a couple of years now, and I'm quite happy with them. But now I'm thinking of getting something done on my left upper-arm.

I like the look of those tattoos with Chinese characters, but they always seem to say things like "Peace", "Love", "Happiness", or "Prosperity". Yawn. I want something different. And I want to be absolutely sure of what I'm getting (I'm sure we've all heard these horror stories of guys walking around with "Wanker" tattooed on them - apt as it may well be).

I stumbled upon a blog called "Me Thinks... (我想...)" by someone who calls themself D.A., who lives somewhere in the States, and I got inspired. This blog celebrates all things Chinese. (Coincidentally, Chinatown, starring Jack Nicholson, is on telly here as I write this - no joke.)

I left a comment asking for a translation of a phrase that I thought of, one which I decided that I'd really like to have tattooed on my arm - if there aren't too many characters involved.

D.A. was more than happy to help. He (or she; this person's profile doesn't give much away) promptly replied in a comment on my previous blog entry, and helpfully offered to find a shorter translation if there were too many characters. Turns out that it was a bit long, so I requested a shorter version, if possible. D.A. got back (in another comment on the same blog entry) with the definitive translation of the phrase I will soon have tattoed on my left upper-arm.

This is what it looks like:
Now, is that cool, or what?
OK, so now you're wondering what it says, right? Well I did say that I wanted something different, and I can assure you that this will be a conversation piece. It's a reminder of one of the many things I enjoyed during my time in London; something that I will certainly return to one day.
It says: "Beef in oyster sauce".
I can't wait 'til I reach puberty.
You know, so many people in Sweden walk around with boring, unoriginal, out-of-the-book tattoos that have no real meaning. It's really sad, and it's time that the newly-elected Swedish government did something about it. That's what I think.


Blogger lilfunky1 said...

that's AWESOME

2:01 am  
Blogger Tug said...

LOVE it! I've got the grankids footprints & info on my back, & have the symbol for "bite me" in mandarin Chinese picked out - just need to figure out where I want that one.

2:22 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Um... waiting until puberty? Try to think in longer terms than that... What might your grandkids think? :P

3:22 am  
Blogger Unknown said... name is fauzan and i'm the webmaster of travel-in-kelantan blog..
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if you're interested to be one of my partner, please inform me via my email..

7:43 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


but to be honest i would not have expected less, it has class and humour in one.

2:45 pm  
Blogger m said...

why does this phrase put all kinds of x-rated images into my mind? hmmm... beef in oyster sauce... hmmm...

9:30 pm  
Blogger Mark Base said...

Damn. She's onto me. So to speak...

10:05 pm  
Blogger Maritza said...

I'm so glad you're back! I've missed you but this post has made up for the time you've been away.

Before you get a tattoo of any Asian characters, please go to this site:

1:25 am  
Blogger Cynthia said...


1:40 am  
Blogger Mark Base said...

Thanks, Maritza!

I've left a comment on his blog.

1:47 am  
Blogger Tug said...

You've been nominated for a blog award...

Everybody go vote for Mark!!

6:41 am  
Blogger MaR said...

Congrats on your nomination! stopping by to say hello from Barcelona. Yes, it is sunny today :)

3:27 pm  
Blogger Kath Lockett said...

Love it! I have only the one tatt (a blue rose betwixt my hip bone and the old 'Map Of Tassie' (ask your Australian mates), and have a gay friend who thought he'd got 'peace' tattooed on his hip only to discover several years later that it actually said 'Mother In Law'.
What worries me about getting any tatts that are too visible is that, as I get older, said rose will stretch into an unbecoming bunch of flowers, and any 'GET IT HERE' or 'I'VE GOT A PARTY IN MY PANTS, WANNA COME?' slogans will say something even worse when I'm ninety....

2:36 am  
Blogger Jaymie said...

Well I have my right shoulder tattooed and I'm getting my left one done on my upcoming birthday. And if you say that it's boring or unoriginal I'll kick your dual citizenship ass when I come to visit you.

2:44 am  
Blogger Mark Base said...

Milly Moo, You're a scream!

An ass-kicking from you
Sounds too good to be true.

10:40 am  
Blogger VTahir said...

why do you want that one? would you add the price to your tattoo, just like a menu?

3:51 pm  
Blogger pandapassport said...

It is weird for sure.

But at least if you come over here to China, you'll have no problem ordering food in a restaurant.

Just pull up your sleeve!

4:46 pm  
Blogger MJ Klein said...

more accurately, it says:

oyster sauce beef

the first 2 words together are for oyster sauce and the second 2 works are literally
cow meat.

i see that on menus frequently!

7:47 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just after I finished reading the Chinese part, I stopped and thought about the meaning. Honestly, I felt pretty worried, thinking someone had tricked you into this.

Then I read on, and my worry disappeared. Hilarious!

You'd surely get a lot of funny looks if you waved that around in China! (well, probably only a few more looks than normal, actually)

2:48 pm  

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