The dull, wet December 2015 darkness made the front room and the scattered belongings, packing boxes and old furniture within it, even more sad and dreary than it actually was. The faint glow of Christmas lights shone from behind the closed blinds that kept the outside world, outside. Hanging alone from the top dead centre of the front room window frame was an ornament that kept my Mum company until the very end. She had a strange love for this one particular ornament that we all knew why, but non of us could truly fathom. There was no breeze in the house and the hanging ornament floated lifelessly in mid air watching my younger brother and I pack our parents belongings as we chatted about our childhood in the house we were both born in – in early and the late 1970’s respectively. That was the last time I saw it. In the maelstrom of post death administration, grief and alcohol it disappeared from my sight and possession that night only to be fondly though of now and then in passing over the last few years.
I’m once again watching the world go by me, not figuratively but literally. It’s a beautiful mix of spring sunshine and fog, and this speeding LNER train is in and out of each as fast as I can type the next sentence. 29th of May 2021 and I’m once again on a train, and I’m speeding through the Scottish countryside, southbound toward home. I have just completed one of the most enjoyable weeks at my new work since I started proper (after training) about 18 months ago. Like this beautiful, green and pleasant countryside out of my window that appears and then disappears into and out of the fog, life changes quickly – very quickly indeed. When you are in a bind or predicament or if you are battling through hard times, time can go so slowly indeed, but as Einstein worked out with amazing intellect – Time is relative. I sit here, stationary now in Newcastle Railway Station awaiting a new train driver and the top up of hot water for the buffet car, in not only a different mindset as I was in a few years ago, but also a completely different physical life and space.
The bankruptcy has been a ‘non event’ now for over a year. There has been no change to my financial circumstances and my credit rating is very slowly building with a decent upward vector. I am however, yet to try to apply for any ‘proper’ credit as I do not wish to harm the score by being refused upon an application. I am lucky that I have not had reason for any credit to be required so far, but when I signed the dotted line, I knew it would be a long term decision.
Many years ago I had the idea of having massive parts of my life, achievements, Military honours etc, tattooed onto my back as a permanent etching of what I had achieved over the time I spent here on this planet. The thought has always stayed with me but besides from the basic idea, I never carried out the plan to actually research and get on with it. Just like signing for bankruptcy, having a plan and waiting to see what unfolds in front of your eyes is, I believe the best way to go about these life changing decisions. As my Mum said to me once when I called her asking how the fuck to make a Christmas dinner – It is all about timing…
Some months ago I found, totally by chance a Tattoo artist that carried out work just as I had imagined my ‘piece’ would look, and once my research on him was complete I knew that the time was now right to implement a plan that had sat in my head for well over 15 years. A lot has happened in the last 5 years and there were now many more facets to the design that were needed to make up the new life story direction.
Why am I doing it now? Why am I deciding to tattoo my entire back at almost 50 Years old and with my history as the main focus of the piece? I was a British Soldier for 18 years, tattoos are a way of life in the British Army – why not then? I thought I was doing it because I had always wanted to, but there must be something deeper, surely there must be? There is. The answer came watching those Scottish border towns and villages popping in and out of the fog like a machinist’s needle in Chinese sweat shop. I’m already 3 sessions (17 hours under the needle) into the tattoo work and I have invested some of my hard earned money into ensuring that I never forget where I have been and what amazing things I have been lucky enough to be part of in this stressful, challenging but ultimately wonderful life.
It is all about timing…
Passing down the M6 motorway just a few days ago, still in my Dads old car that just keeps on going (albeit with a lot of required ‘tinkering’) I received a call from my older Brother who needed a hand. I haven’t seen him for a while, we’ve both been busy in our own worlds and this phone call came at a very opportune time as I was passing literally within just a few miles of his home – So I called by. He was helping his daughter move house and his home was full of boxes, bags, picture frames as she was using him as a temporary transit store room. I had been in the house less than 2 minutes when I spotted hanging from a window frame, something I had not seen since that dreary December night in 2015. There it was – Mums guiding light, her ornament that she loved so much, glistening in the sunshine and spinning majestically in the mid evening, light, Lancashire Coastal breeze, just as it was always destined to do. My Niece had taken it down from the family home back in 2015, and had kept it safe since then, bringing it to my brothers house that very day, for safe keeping in her own house move.
It is all about timing…
As I passed through the Scottish borders just 45 minutes ago I realised why I have actually decided to have this artwork on my back. It isn’t because I just wanted to, It isn’t for trendy reasons and it isn’t for show either. It’s for another, more personal reason. It is for the reconciliation of all that has gone before against all that is to come. But what has mums ‘ornament’ and this train journey today got to do with all this?
I took a photo of that ‘ornament’ at my brothers house just a few days ago, the day before I had a pre-booked appointment to meet the Tattoo artist for the first time, the day before we discussed what the artwork would look like. The Angel of Reconciliation is now mine forever, in my skin and at the centre piece of what is slowly building as my life’s work and achievements, but not only that – her ashes are mixed into the ink. As I sat on the train about an hour ago and with very little sleep, and a busy week behind me, I looked at my electronic ticket and realised that today – the 29 May, was the day she passed away. The day a 15 year idea all came together.
Like I said – Well, you know what I am about to repeat… but it really is, as my Mum said, all about the timing.