What Saint David left to Welsh people, I felt it through a Voxpop about Tattooing
Cardiff has never been quieter at St David’s Day because of COVID-19 lockdown. In a day without celebration, let me remind you how beautiful smile Welsh people have under that mask.
“Gwnewch y pethau bychain” is the word of wisdom Saint David left to his followers. It means “Do the sall things”. Reading this sentence, every moment I have spent in Cardiff started flashing back in my head, and I suddenly realised, that’s exactly what I have been feeling since I lived in this city. Because of the small things Cardiff people did for me, my confidence was built so well on the first day of becoming a journalist.
It was early November of 2019, a month after I came to the UK. I was sitting in multimedia room, while Matt was talkng about how voxpop is a good way to train your interview skills, and how you should start this trianing with something you’re interested in.
I get the feeling that, tattoo is something that fills every angle of my life: My German teacher walked straight to me after class and asked what that map on my arm stood for; Guys on tinder started conversations with my tattoo and sometimes theirs; Literally three months ago, my mom got so serious about the size of the lion head on my back.
“I really don’t know why you want this on your skin. Didn’t it hurt?”
How do Cardiff people treat tattoo and people with tattoo? I told Matt about the idea, prepared 4 questions, brought pen and paper and left school building.
The first one I set my eyes at are two guys sitting on the bench.
“They seem nice.”
“They sit here for a looong time probably not in a hurry.”
“Ohhh that one left, he’s gonna wait from him now. Ok here comes my chance.”
Laugh as you want, but yes, it took me ages and too much obvious practice to step out.
“I would use to (have certain first impression of people who have tattoos), but now I’m more open minded. I just…grew up (laugh).”
Realising “Hey I can understand what they’re saying!”, my confidence emerged. It was at noon, students off school. Through bunches of boys and girls in black suit, I saw her.
She’s an Asian-look girl walking alone. For some reason I feel very related to her — Maybe this is how I was like in the others eyes, when I walk alone on streets of Qingdao, Beijing, Jinan, Tianjin, and many other places.
So I said hi to her, we talked, talked, for half an hour. Turned out she’s from China, too. But we didn’t speak Chinese at all.
“I also want to have a tattoo. I think it is a good thing for us to record something meaningful… In our college, teachers can have tattoos, but in school, they have to wear long sleeves to cover it.”
After a nice talk, I headed back to the Hayes. A guy covered by tattoos sat on the stairs beside the museum, wearing sunglasses, looking cool and, hard to reach.
“Oh come on Wang Zi Jing, that’s exactly who you need to talk to! After him you will never be scared!”
I walked towards him until he noticed me. He took his glasses off, gave me a smile.
“Because I got short hair and piercing, people get this idea that I’m aggressive and I’m really not… I love tattoos. If people aren’t accepted of that, that’s their issue. I’m happy to explain to them, but I won’t make life choices differently because of them.”
Given tattoos are more of an issue to the “older generation”, I decided to interview someone older. I sat down, looking at people walking past me, until a voice came in.
“Are you new to Cardiff?”
I turned right, it was a lady next to me eating Greggs.
“Yes, I came in September.”
“Cardiff Uni? What do you study?”
“Yes Cardiff Uni, journalism. The one next to the BBC.”
We both smiled, I said I was gathering ideas about tattooed people. She said: “My grandson has one — maybe more than one — pretty cool… I think it should be something personal.”
I expected her to end with “Tattoo is fine”. But when I mentioned tattoo on hands and face, she said, slowly: “On their hands I think it’s fine, but not the face,
“Because the first thing you would see is the tattoo, you wouldn’t see the person behind it.”
I spent 4 hours to interview 6 people: 1.5 hours on talking, 2.5 on cheering myself up secretly. But overall, it’s a good start.
I brought this up only to remind us the good old days we had in this beautiful city: They small things we did to each other, the spirit we pass on, and the simple smile we had on face.
Hopefully you still have it under that mask. And hopefully we’ll see it again soon.
Before that, happy St David’s Day everybody.