Trending: Why you're never too old to tatt

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The Independent Online

"You are never too old to do mad things," says Lady Steel, the 72-year-old wife of former Liberal leader David Steel, who, The Sunday Telegraph revealed, marked her 70th birthday by taking a trip to a tattoo parlour to have a pink jaguar tattooed on her shoulder. And, of course, the now 72-year-old writer is right.

There's nothing mad or even unusual about getting inked on the way back from picking up your pension, says Naomi Reed, of London's Frith Street Tattoos

"We have plenty of over-sixties. Sometimes it's a case of just getting around to it, and sometimes because a partner who disapproved is no longer around – either way their choices tend to be more poignant than young people's," says Reed.

Steel's tat was certainly that: a reproduction of the leaping jaguar on her husband's coat of arms. Friends, she told the Today programme yesterday, described it as really meaning, "Judy 4 David".

For some, though, the draw is having a permanent reminder of something long gone. Lal Hardy, of north London's New Wave Tattoo, remembers inking an 80-year-old man with a ladybird – the symbol of the garden he loved but could no longer tend.

The passing summers also leads to an increase in devotional tattoos. Hardy claims to have designed one such for a 70-year-old bishop in the 1990s. "He wanted St Joseph kneeling. I asked him, "Doesn't Leviticus forbid this?" and he said, 'My body is a temple – I'm adding stained glass'."

It seems that Lady Steel is in pretty good company.