I have come to the end of my mid-life crisis. It has taken two years, but I have finally made it. I have also come to the end of the active writing part of my new book – The Beauty in the Beast. It will be published by Simon & Schuster in May next year – and I have just had a sneak preview of the cover, which has left me quivering with excitement … I will check with the publishers, but if I am allowed to share it with you, I will.
But the end of my mid-life crisis … it began in November 2009 when I did three things for the first and last time. I did my first and last stand-up comedy. I did my first and last 5 Rhythms dance class and I got my first and last tattoo.
All fine, you might think, no fast women and loose cars. But the plan had been to keep it to that month. Oh, what a failure … so … I have been trying, with some degree of success, to make people laugh, defining my new hedgehog lecture as ecological standup; I have been dancing with the wonderful Chloe de Sousa ever since and … and on last Thursday I travelled to Leeds to get my second, and most definitely LAST, tattoo.
The first, and last, tattoo was of a hedgehog as part of extInked – about which I have written before. This final tattoo is the culmination of The Beauty in the Beast – a book that has taken me on a year long journey around the animal obsessives of Britain. I have been meeting people very like myself, with passions for other species – so I met the adder man of Norfolk, the mid-Wales badger man, the water vole woman of Shropshire and the otter woman of Devon. Fifteen people in total were tasked with trying to seduce me away from the hedgehog – and the winning species, well, I agreed that I would show my commitment by getting that animal permanently tattooed on my body.
And here it is, the wonderful Ink vs Steel‘s Simon Caves had been so impressed with extInked that he offered to ink me up for free. I think I am possibly the only person in a tweed jacket to have entered their premises, but they made me feel at home and this is the film I managed to shoot … an indication either of my extreme fortitude under the assault of the needle, or the lack of nerve endings in that part of my leg.
Here endeth my mid-life crisis … no more tattoos … almost definitely no more tattoos … but if I did, just as an exercise, hypothetically speaking … what should I have next?