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Gisela Boothroyd-Smythe, single parent, was distraught.  She had knocked

on her daughter Juniper’s bedroom door and, on hearing no reply, had

turned the door handle in order to gain access to pick up some laundry.

She did not discover her child twerking at the mirror, but, instead caught

her out admiring herself in her wardrobe mirror.

Mum!  Get out!

Juniper!  What on earth have you done?

Chillax, mater-it’s only a body modification.

Gisela was filled with revulsion.  Yes, but a permanent one, no


It’s to mark a rite of passage, innit?  This was not so much an

interrogative as a bolshie declarative, or statement of all-out war.

What does it say?

Don’t stop me: I’m a runaway.

Gisela flopped onto the futon.  I fail to understand how..

Aw mum, the positive version was what plantation owners used to brand on

their slaves, so fugitives could be identified. I just wanted to blazon the idea

of Liberty in a personal fashion.

Fashion just about sums it up, groaned Gisela.  Look, I fail to see how you

are deprived of your Freedom.  Frankly, whoever did this to you should be

deprived of theirs.  Did you lie about your age?

Yeah, grinned Juniper.  They only get fined about forty quid for marking

minors.  They didn’t exactly run a den of inkwitty. 

She laughed and Gisela wanted to shake her, but exercised restraint.

though she felt needled herself.

Gisela winced at the colloquialism and the barefaced cheek, which was

almost as bad to her as the tramp stamp.  She tried to put her objections

into a rank order of those worthy of protest, down to those over which it

simply wasn’t worth making a scene.

The embellishment was a high scorer.


Wait till your father sees it.  I blame the Beckhams for this craze.  I hope

you don’t get hepatitis or HIV.  And, I don’t know what your Form Teacher is

going to say about it.  Miss Fotheringay-Syylk isn’t going to be impressed.

Oh, she’s got one too, Juniper crowed.  She showed us hers in Personal and

Social Education.

Well, I despair about teachers nowadays, Gisela sighed.  They are either on

strike or setting a bad example to pupils.  I’m going to speak to the Head

about it.

But Miss Syylk’s is classy, protested the Bad Girl.

A classy tattoo?!  An oxymoron if ever I heard one.

No, Mum.  Hers is a quotation from Edmund Spenser.  She had it done

to mark the end of a relationship. 

Edmund Spenser oil painting.JPG

Too much information! snorted Gisela.

Juniper carried on.

It says:

One day I wrote his name upon the strand,

but came the waves and washed it far away

and so I had it tattooed on my back

where t’will endure till Doom doth sound its crack.

How obscene! remarked Gisela.  I hope it isn’t too low down on her torso,

or there will be an unfortunate juxtaposition if she bends over when sporting

low slung jeans.


John, Juniper’s evil little brother made his entrance, seizing the

opportunity of the unbolted door.

Hey!  What’s that, sis?   He read the motto in a flash. Yuck! I wish you

would run away and then I could get your room.  It’s bigger than mine.

Out! snapped Gisela.

Whoa, Tiger! breathed John, beating a hasty retreat as he could see that

his mother was in earnest for once.

I just hope that you don’t get an allergy from the metal dyes, Gisela ranted.

Mum, if Cheryl Cole can survive her exposure to chemical dyes, then I

suppose I will survive.  She obviously thought she was worth it.

John stuck his head back round the door.

I’d never fancy a girl with all that chavvy decoration! he sneered.

No, you’re so untrendy that you’d probably only be attracted to a girl with

a pearl ear-ring! Juniper screeched and slammed the door on his finger.

And it was then that she had a brilliant idea for her AS Art project.

She would download pictures of famous beauties by Old Masters and

Impressionist painters and would add body decoration to their nudity.

Dejeuner sur L’Herbe with Olympia, or whoever she was, would exhibit

the female flesh as blank canvas for a riot of scribbles.  She’d entitle her

portfolio: Beauty- in the Eye of the Beholder?

Are you listening to me, Juniper? seethed Gisela.

Whatever, shrugged that very difficult young lady.