What time is it!?
or Why There is a Picture of a Clock on my Shoulder

"One more of us, once less of them."

Barbour made it sound as if I'd just joined the Masons. That's not how I felt at all.

I didn't feel empowered, like the Internet people had said. I didn't feel that I had come to realise myself in a new light, like Goth Girl told me I would. I didn't feel tough, mysterious, attractive or crazy. I felt like myself - but with a sore shoulder.

I say sore, but it was actually more of a stiffness. Even when the needle had been buzzing away, it had felt more like a mild, sustained electric shock from a Van Der Graaff generator than actual pain. Compared to getting choked out or caught in an armlock at judo, it was nothing. The only thing that really hurt was my neck, and that was from trying to look over my shoulder to see what the guy was doing.

"One more of us, one less of them."

I didn't feel alienated from mainstream society. I didn't feel like I'd suddenly become a member of the Justice League. I felt like me.

I couldn't tell you when or why I decided to get a tattoo. I had seen some nice ink on guys in mosh pits or at martial arts classes, but I don't recall there ever being one enlightened moment when I realised that I wanted something eternally etched onto me.

I had thought about the design over the course of a few months. At first I thought about getting some kanji written by Jigoro Kano, the founder of Kodokan judo, but as much as I love the art and respect Kano Sensei's achievements, I didn't feel comfortable with the idea of putting someone else's words on my body. If I was going to get any text tattooed then I was pretty sure it would be my own words.

Maybe that's arrogance, but it's how I feel.

I also considered getting a red star on my left arm, but although this would have some personal significance to me, too many people are walking around with stars in the latest tattoo trend. Stars are the new Tribal, and while both can look really cool, I didn't want to look as if I was following a fashion.

In the end I decided on a clock. The design was based on a photograph of a pocket watch in a museum. It belonged to a victim of the Hiroshima atomic bomb and was stopped at the precise moment of the blast. The combination of such an enduring image, Alan Moore's masterpiece "Watchmen" and One Minute Silence's song "Roof of the World" sparked off something in my mind, and it just seemed like the right thing to do.

I had the piece done at Bodyline Tattoos in Glasgow. The guy who did it was called Derrick, and I'd reccomend him to anyone. He talked me through the whole process, giving me detailed aftercare instructions, advised me on placement, opened new needles in front of me, changed his gloves whenever he touched anything and did an excellent job with the tattoo itself. It's a tricky design which required perfect circles, evenly sized and spaced Roman numerals and just a light touch of shading.

It looks great.

He event took a photo for his portfolio, so if you happen to be located in or around Glasgow, Scotland and you're thinking about getting some ink, you could drop in and check it out.

I now have plans for the future. I'm looking at ways to personalise my red star. I'm thinking of getting a black handprint over the top of my shoulder. At the minute my body is like a giant canvas with a tiny bit of detail on it. I'm looking for pieces I could incorporate into sleeves or half sleeves.

I'm very, very excited.