Sunday book review – An Unreliable History of Tattoos by Paul Thomas


You might be wondering what a book with this title is doing on this website. Well spotted!

This is a book which uses the wacky idea that historical characters were tattooed, to tell some jokes. Some of the jokes are ones which you might not want to tell your grandma or your children as they are a bit rude, but that depends on your grandma and your children, and you.

It is possible that Henry VIII did not have a tattoo on his belly which makes reference to the Pope of the time and it is possible that Lord Nelson did not have a rather rude tattoo truncated when he lost his arm.

But you still might be wondering why a review of this book appears here?

Well, the author and artist, Paul Thomas, is a keen birder and has managed to slip a few birds into the book. His local patch, shared with David Lindo (and others of course) is around Wormwood Scrubs – which makes a few appearances in the book too.

IMG_3931As well as a Puffin, a couple of Choughs (Red-billed) there is an adult male Hen Harrier watching Boudica beat the Romans (and there are other birds too).

Paul Thomas is a serious cartoonist – or is that a contradiction in terms? He has worked for the Evening Standard, Independent on Sunday, and the Daily Express.

Some readers will have got an idea of the humour of this author through his plentiful jokey daily tweets (@PaulThomas992).

This isn’t really a review is it? If you want a laugh, and you’re not too prim and proper, you might well laugh at the drawings in this book. My copy makes me laugh and I’m going to leave it in the loo, where others will also probably chuckle over it in private.

to check out some of the artwork see the exhibition at the Chris Beetles Gallery until 19 March – I went on Wednesday evening and enjoyed it.

An Unreliable History of Tattoos by Paul Thomas  is published by Nobrow Press.


Inglorious: conflict in the uplands by Mark Avery is published by Bloomsbury – for reviews see here.

Behind the Binoculars: interviews with acclaimed birdwatchers by Mark Avery and Keith Betton is published by Pelagic – here’s a review.

A Message from Martha by Mark Avery is published by Bloomsbury – for reviews see here.

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