In one form or another, tattoos have been in existence for more than 6,000 years and are now a ubiquitous part of 21st century culture.

However, until recently, the elderly were virtually the only sector of society which rarely adopted this form of body art, but since the introduction of the Summer Tattoo Allowance by the Blair government in 2002, more than 700,000 pensioners have had one or more designs inscribed on their limbs, torso, heads and family pets.

According to the magazine wrINKlies – which focuses exclusively on third age body art – the most popular tattoo among pensioners is that of a spouse’s name surmounting a bowl of scorpions, while other frequently requested designs include the Edinburgh military tattoo (a Scottish piper fingering his chanter), the tawit-tattoo (an owl swallowing a vole) and the Audrey tattoo (a French actress covered in chocolate).

Unlike their younger counterparts, pensioners seldom opt for Chinese characters for their tattoos and so usually avoid unknowingly having their arms adorned with phrases such as “shrimp foo yong’ and ‘Mao is magic’.