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Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Emergency Measures

We live down in Kent. We often see boys with an earring in a pierced ear. The boys are never quite certain if they are being told the truth when they are told about the different use sailors make of earrings.

I like to explain to the boys how the influence of the River Thames with all the docks and ships and the ship building along the River Medway drew men and boys to the sea. The story goes that the `Men of Kent’ wore an earring so that if they fell from the top of the mast and died their shipmates would have enough money to bury them at sea. If a sailor was killed in a foreign port then the earring would also provide enough money to cover their burial.

Sailors also used to have a tattoo for more than decoration. Men have had tattoos since early history. Some tattoos are to make the man more warlike. Others are for decoration – and some for protection.

Some sailors used to believe that if they had a tattoo across their back the tattoo would save them from being flogged. I am not sure how effective those tattoos were because surely if a sailor had done something wrong they would still be punished. Naturally most sailors thought about sharks at one time or another. The remedy was to have a cross tattooed onto the soles of their feet to save them from sharks. I suppose we need to wonder about how the sharks felt as they saw a pair of twinkling feet ahead of them in the water.

This brings us to the lengths some parents will need to go to in order to ensure good luck and careful protection. There are tattoo parlours all over the country. If there was enough parent power we could build a case a series of eleven plus tattoos.

. the watch – to remind boys to think about time

. the book – to remind your child to read the question – and then read the question again

. the scales – so that your son remembers to weigh up different alternatives

. the running machine – to remind your son to keep on exercising

. the smiling face – to ward off any cross words

. the £50 note – to remind you to keep paying pocket money

With these tattoos we won’t need mermaids or dragons. Your son will be able to remain pure of mind and spirit.

There is, however, one ring that you will need to retain. That is the ring through the nose. You use this ring to tie a cord through and then to drag your son to his desk to work. You may only need to use this nose ring once or twice a year – but it is there for any emergencies.

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