Richard Ord: For the love of God, seagulls and tattoos

Winged messenger of doom
Winged messenger of doom

With families, don’t you find that the brown stuff hurls itself at the whirring fan blades when you’re at your most relaxed?

If I didn’t know any better I’d swear the big man (or woman) above plans it that way.

Doesn’t matter how busy God may be with humanitarian crises, global warming or errant angels stepping out of nightclubs with devils (I don’t know exactly what constitutes a ‘local difficulty’ in the realms of the afterlife, but I reckon that would be one), he (or she) always finds time to rain on my parade.

“Ooh, what a day,” he’ll say. “Gabriel lock up will ya, and let’s call this a night. Hang on! Ordy looks a little too relaxed...”

One wiggle of his nose (I’ve got God down as big fan of Bewitched, don’t ask me why?) is enough to throw a minor calamity my way, and he’s shuts up shop for the evening. This weekend was a doozy.

I’d been to the gym for a successful workout. And by ‘successful’ I mean, I got the step machine overlooking the swimming pool. Tattoo spotting is my new hobby.

This Sunday was particularly rewarding.

One chap had his entire back covered in what looked like the page of a text book.

Four lengthy paragraphs down his spine.

I suspect it was something from the bible but I couldn’t make out the words from my vantage point. My glasses aren’t that strong and the management - despite my repeated requests - frown upon binoculars.

While I suspect a tract from the Book of Genesis, I rather hoped it was something more exciting. A list of terms and conditions would be interesting. Or a potted history of the wearer’s life.

He might be shy. On a first date instead of being tongue tied, when asked “so tell me about yourself ...” could simply whip his top off and point to his back. Now that’s what I call an ice-breaker.

Tattoos, I am beginning to suspect, are the norm. We are approaching the age where more people at 21 will have tattoos than not.

When asked by a new acquaintance of mine (don’t ask, I’ll tell you later) texted me about what I’d been up to that day I replied: “Been to work, did some shopping, got my new tattoo coloured in.”

She replied: “Buy anything nice?”

But I digress.

So I’m out of the gym, in the shower, all relaxed, when the mobile rings.

“Dad, come quick, there’s a seagull loose in the house.”

It was a panicked son number two, Isaac, 14.

“It’s attacking mam, and it’s pooed all over the kitchen.” I could hear screams and general pandemonium in the background. “Quick dad, Bradley’s trying to kill it with a cricket bat.”

Soaking wet, I pulled on my tracksuit bottoms and headed for the door promising to be there in five.

Two minutes later, the phone pings. One message: “April Fool.”

Who needs a vengeful God with a family like mine?