Legal Widow

I took Subjudice to aqua aerobics with me the other day, and she had a good laugh while we hoofed our way through an underwater Living la Vida Loca.

Before the music started and we had to concentrate to avoid drowning, we all swished our way to the side of the pool to collect our webbed neoprene mitts (improves water resistance, makes you feel like Man from Atlantis). I noticed that nearly every woman there had a tattoo, usually on the shoulder, sometimes a bit further down. Yes. Right down there.

Honestly, it was like being on a building site. Stars, dolphins, bits of Latin, funny little fishy shapes – I haven’t seen so much ink on pink since the Lawyer gave up his short-lived attempt to use a fountain pen. (“It’ll make me stand out,” he said. “Give me class.” It also gave him an enormous dry cleaning bill.)

Unfortunately, Subjudice also noticed the tattooed crew and by the time my hair was dry was demanding one of her own. “Please mum, please mum, please mum, everyone at school’s got one.”

“I very much doubt that,” said the Lawyer, in his “I give you money to bring these children up and look how they’ve turned out” voice.

“I did tell her,” I said, in my “obviously not enough money” voice.

Subjudice stormed upstairs to design a tattoo on the computer, and I mused on why my daughter would want to scrawl green and blue over her nice, smooth skin (you could understand it on mine: anything to cover up the thread veins), and pay for the privilege. In my day, tattoos were done at the back of the class with a compass and a blue biro, “which is why”, says the Lawyer, “we send our children to private school”, and I am suitably chastened.

Subjudice was still whinging about nasty mummy not letting her have a tattoo when we went into the office a couple of days later to drop off a file he’d forgotten. Amanda, the Lawyer’s lovely assistant, pricked up her ears and showed Subjudice the hitherto hidden mermaid on her hip.

Uproar in the department. Shock from the secretaries, huge interest from the male solicitors, fury from the Lawyer. “How can you possibly hope to make salaried partner if you waltz around looking like a member of Limp Bizkit?” he stormed, showing a remarkable grasp of modern rock music, I thought. Amanda ran off to the loo, weeping, followed by Subjudice clamouring for another look, and all the other female assistants and associates in the department.

Subjudice emerged from the loo announcing that every single one of them had a tattoo, and some of them in places you wouldn’t believe. The male solicitors had to be restrained by the secretaries from rushing into the loo en masse.

It was all round the firm in minutes, of course, and then the “show me yours” campaign began. It turns out that while most of them had gone for fish and dragons, one had her husband’s name on her shoulder, one had the name of a leading Law Lord on her inner thigh, and one aspiring libel lawyer had the defences against defamation inscribed on her upper forearm. “I just can’t remember them otherwise,” she wailed. “Clever girl,” said her boss, adding: “And why aren’t the rest of you showing me such dedication?”

“I hope you’re happy,” the Lawyer snarled at Subjudice, who was busy looking up “Tattoo Parlour” in the Yellow Pages. “Look mummy!” she shouted. “They do belly button rings too!”