Black Heart Tattoo Saloon in Mile Oak, Brighton

Black Heart Tattoo Saloon in Mile Oak, Brighton

The dragon tattoo on my back was not done at the fine establishment above; it was done at a tattoo parlour in Ilford, Essex in 1996.  It hurt.  That’s all I really remember.  Being such a long time ago, I can’t tell you much more about the experience.  Fortunately,  I happened to get another one done recently and had it touched up only yesterday.

Black Heart Tattoo Saloon ( was recommended by a friend who said they had received good service and paid a reasonable price.  The out of town location was the only possible draw back, but I’ve got a car so no biggy.  However, for a reason better known to someone else, I decided to walk there.  It was a nine mile round trip with some big arse hills on the way.  To make my appointment time, I had to seriously push it which naturally resulted in my being soaked in sweat by the time I arrived.

Black Heart Tattoo Saloon inside

The interior of the parlour was as quirky and fun as the outside.

Black Heart Tattoo Saloon inside

I was greeted politely and asked to fill in a form.  Peeling off my sopping wet T-shirt, and feeling rather foolish, I showed the tattooist (a woman called Georgie) the dragon on my back and asked her if she could freshen it up as well as giving me a new tattoo of a cat on my arm.  “No problem,” she said.  We went through into a little room in the back where another woman was lazering a tattoo off a man’s leg.  His face fought against showing how much pain he was in but was losing.

A major advantage of having a tattoo on your back is that you can’t see them doing it.  Yeah, it didn’t feel great when she was redoing the outline but it didn’t hurt nearly as badly as I remembered the first time.  Talking helped and the tattooist was happy enough to talk back.  The sensation is difficult to describe – it’s not as sharp a pain as you’d imagine and the intensity changes as it passes over different parts of the skin.  The bony bits are the worst.  As the needle passed over the edge of my scapular the pain went from a nagging pinching feeling to a big flare up of sharp pain.  After around five minutes it was over…for now.

Looking in the big mirror on the wall, I was surprised by how much better my dragon looked.  He looked fresh and young again.  Now it was time for the cat on the arm.  I could have watched her to do that, but I didn’t.  I also couldn’t put my T-shirt back on because it was completely drenched in sweat.  How gross is that?  After the tattoo was finished and covered with cling film I had to put my hoodie straight on top of my bra.  That one didn’t hurt much either.  The tattooist did say that it might be rather patchy as it is very difficult to get the colour even when it bleeds so much.

I left for my long walk back having paid a very reasonable price indeed and feeling that it had been an all round rather good experience – apart from the whole sweaty thing.

It was two months later when I finally got around to having it touched up and the patchiness filled in.  The pain this time was far greater and it left my arm looking battered and bruised.  It looks pretty cool though.

Evie approves.

Evie approves.

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