Human sketch pads and family trees


This week I picked up a leaflet advertising the forthcoming free Gresham College lectures at the Museum of London/Barnard’s Inn during lunchtimes (and evenings). There’s a variety of subjects covered, from “Cosmic influences on behaviour,” “Was Karl Marx always wrong?” and one which is well up my street what with me being the proud owner of the odd indian ink mark on my arm, “Distinguishing marks: The Tattoo”

Two stories sprung to mind when I saw the lecture, one was of a young punk from my home town in the midlands who tattooed his favourite band “UK Subs” onto his forehead in front of the bathroom mirror. Needless to say it was done the wrong way around!


The other involved a good mate who in the seventies, had the raffle ticket motif (above) of his favourite band 999 tattooed onto his arm. Years later he went to work in Greece teaching English at a secondary school. The first day he rolled up his sleeves, exposing his “tatts” and someone immediately informed the headmaster. He was then physically dragged out the classroom by a couple of the other teaching staff having no idea what he had done wrong! Turns out the kid’s previous teacher was involved in some mad satanic cult and then exposed in a national newspaper trying to corrupt children to the ways of “the devil”. And what does a large 999 on an arm look like when it’s upside down?  Exactly! In the end my mate kept his job. but it took a bit  of explaining as I don’t think 999 were that big in Greece!

Talking of music there’s a great free exhibition at the Barbican Music Library until September 28th. It’s Pete Frame’s Rock Family Trees that used to appear in the rock press (Zig Zag, NME and Sounds) throughout the 70’s and 80’s. Well worth seeing! P

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