In a new series of interviews, The Daily Distress talks to small business owners about their concerns in times of economic turmoil.
Our first conversation was with Prentice Gubshaw a successful tattoo artist with a private studio in Wapping.
Daily Distress: Do you see your business surviving in the long term?
Prentice: No. Things really aren’t too clever right now.
Daily Distress: Has the Corona crisis been to blame?
Prentice: No. Not really. I mean, technically, yeah, I had to shut down for a bit but well, you know … It hasn’t really been an issue. Definitely saved on the old VAT.
Daily Distress: Is it Brexit, then?
Prentice: No, not that. Most of the people I ink are English and that, so no, I’m not worried about that at all.
Daily Distress: Do you worry that tattoos will finally go out of fashion?
Prentice: Well, no, not really. There’s always the possibility that hipsters will run out of room for more tats and that tramp stamps will go out of style but there’s always someone pissed enough to want a tat. Fashions change but that’s good. It keeps the job fresh. I’m proper bored of scribbling on people’s necks right now.
Daily Distress: So what is your major concern, right now?
Prentice: Hong Kong, mate, Hong Kong.
Daily Distress: Really, why?
Prentice: Well, it looks like there’s a whole bunch of them coming over.
Daily Distress: Is that a problem?
Prentice: A problem? Christ, yes!
Daily Distress: Why?
Prentice: Well they all speak Chinese, don’t they?
Daily Distress: Probably. Why would that be an issue for a tattoo artist?
Prentice: Well, it’s like this. You’ve heard of Mickey the Mauler, right? Geezer pretty much runs Romford since Big Trev stepped it down a bit. He’s a diamond and all that, but he’s got anger management issues, if you know what I mean. Let’s say he’s not exactly known for his sense of humour.
Well, anyway, I done a small job for his missus, Sharon. She’s a bit of a ditz and she wanted something all mystic and oriental. So I dug out a quote from Confucius, I think it was something like “Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall” or some bollocks like that. And I tell her I’ll do it in Chinese script. She’s wild for it and wants it all across her Bristol Cities.
Anyway, when she turns up at the parlour, Sharon’s being a right pain in the backside about something or other, so I decide to change the text for a giggle.
Instead of the old Confucius bit, she winds up with “我闻起来像垃圾桶” which is what I found when I put “I smell like bins” into Google Translate.
It’s little jokes like that that keep you sane in this racket. I’ve done it a thousand times before – Japanese, Hindi, you name it. Did some great-big, skinhead feller the other week, he’s got “I’m a little teapot” right across his forehead in Viking runes. Just a giggle. No bugger ever clocks it. No harm done.
But if all these people come here from there, and they can actually speak Chinese … well, it ain’t going to take too long before one of them blurts it out to Big Mickey. I can hear it now “Hey Mickey! Who did that tat? The one that says she smells like bins?” And if that happens, he’ll most likely nail my head to a shark and throw me off Southend pier. And that’s if he’s in a particularly good mood. If Sharon’s burnt his breakfast – and she usually does – it’s going to get properly nasty.
So, yeah, all in all, I’d say that the old prospects are looking pretty grim all round, right now.
One way or another, it’s the last bloody time that I vote for this lot! It’s one thing after another.
You ever thought about having something inspirational done in French? It would suit you, that would.
Next week, we ask a self-employed clairvoyant what the future holds for her.