Tattoos – they're a great idea when you're sober, and an even better idea when you're drunk. If you've ever got one, you'll know that the apprehension is almost more painful than the flickering needle being scraped slowly and repeatedly through your skin, and the handy thing about alcohol is that it's extraordinarily good at magicking away any of those feelings – which is also why people climb scaffolding when they're drunk, or "like" three-month-old Instagram photos with no fear of being singled out as a massive creep.
Where better to capture some of this exact thing in action than Magaluf, long-considered a rite of passage for young Brits who've just learned how to pronounce "Jägerbomb" properly and want to apply that knowledge while sunburnt and dehydrated?
This wasn't my first time visiting Magaluf at the beginning of the party season. Judging from prior experience, I assumed taking photos of people who'd just been tattooed – and asking them why they'd got that tattoo – would be an easy enough job; people are generally very willing to chat on the strip. However, in light of all the stories to emerge from here over the last year – stories that have been emerging for a decade, but have only recently provoked a fuss – it's clear that the place is changing.
The majority of local workers were pretty hostile towards me when they saw my camera, as were local non-uniformed police, who were quick to interrogate me about what I was shooting and for which magazine.
However, in between those bouts of questioning, I was able to ask a number of tourists why exactly they got their holiday tattoo.
This guy was part of a large group, all of them shirtless, all of them holding large lurid drinks, all of them freshly tattooed with "It's irrelevant tho!!!"
I guessed the phrase stemmed from something one of them had said at some point in their life, but every time I asked for more context I got, "It's irrelevant, though!" in response. So, I mean, that's that, I suppose.
This guy was the most lucid of everyone I spoke to. He got "Max"tattooed on his forearm because it's the name of his godson, who's the child of his best mate, who was there partying with him that night.
This man just grunted when I asked him for an explanation, but I'm going to go ahead and assume he does OK with the ladies, so wanted something discreet and classy to signify that.
I stopped this shirtless guy in the middle of Punta Ballena street, i.e. the main strip, i.e. the bit where tourists aren't allowed to drink between 10PM and 8AM any more because they kept getting shit-faced and simultaneously giving blowjobs to 24 men at a time.
I asked him why he'd got a griffin tattoo, worried that he'd say something about the sorting hat, but he answered: "It's Chelsea's lion!" He wandered off before I could get him to elaborate, but I'm presuming he's a QPR fan.
This guy didn't seem sure of why he'd got his tattoo. Our conversation after he left the shop was as follows:
Me: Is that a new tattoo?
Him: Of course!
What's it of?
I don't know.
Why did you get it?
And then he ran away.
This guy works in a perfumery. I have to say, I wasn't expecting to meet anyone who works in a perfumery outside Tokio Joe's or Crystals Bar – I always figured those kind of people went on riad holidays in Tangier and wore kaftans on nights out and didn't get nautical leg tattoos. Turns out I couldn't have been more wrong.
This perfumery worker has three weeks of holiday a year, and spent all of them this year partying in Ibiza and Magaluf. The anchor, he said, symbolises the trip and the days he "wants to remember forever". If I wanted to define three weeks in Magaluf and Ibiza in one single image, I probably would have gone for a portrait of a guy called Dean in a neon green "Keep Calm and Get Mortal" vest fist-pumping to Avicii with one hand and holding a doner in the other. But to each his own.