Tommy Wells, Britain's Most Tattooed man
The UK's Daily Mail has a great story on 69-year-old Tommy Wells, whom they say is the most tattooed man in Britain. [The World's Most Tattooed Senior Woman, Isobel Varley, is also English.]
I was at first skeptical of the article and whether it would be another "point and laugh at the freaks" piece, especially when I read about Tommy spending 52 of his 69 years "indulging in his bizarre hobby and now has tattoos not only across his arms, hands, legs, torso and back but also on the soles of his feet, bottom, entire head, lips and even his genitals."
A penis tattoo...on someone's great-grandfather! Heaven forfend!
But if you read on, it turns out that the focus is more about love and his life with his late wife Sandra who died seven years ago. They were married 44 years. Sandra dared Tommy to get his first piece when they were 17 during a picnic with friends who were getting tattooed at a parlour in Blackpool. Tommy said, "[...] it was agony but I kind of loved the pain and it became a bit of a drug after then, so I got all my body covered except my head and face."
Sandra never got any tattoos herself but never minded Tommy's as long as he did not get tattooed above the neck. Tommy broke that promise after her death:
I did promise at the time, but after she died I was so devastated that the only thing that I could do to make me feel better was have a tattoo tribute to her - and my face and head were the only places I had left.
Tommy's last tattoo honors her with the phrase, "I love you always, Love Tommy" on the back of his head, where a bit of non-tattooed skin remained.
I found this whole story very moving. It's funny because I've been mocking the faux drama in last night's premier of NY Ink, in which every single client had a memorial tattoo accompanied by tears and sob stories (and the artists trying to give sympathetic looks). Even Brian tweeted during the show: "Let it be known #nyink fans - you don't have to have someone die to get a tattoo #nyinkdrinkinggame."
But I felt Tommy's story had soul, commitment and true reality. I recommend it.