Nosing around London about a story eventually relating to Nairobi’s plastic surgery businesses I met some twenty-somethings, who told me about an inner city district called Camden, on the outskirts of London and not far from Abbey Road studios. Forget the punk hairdos, my new friends said. Their peers prance about Camden High street sporting animal horn implants.
With piercing passé, tattoo-less skin rarer than a rhinoceros, animal horn implants are now de rigueur. Camden town is a throwback to 70′s hippiedom; indeed, the village reminded me of San Francisco during my prep school days. It’s main street consists of cheap tattoo parlours and bongs on display in front of head shops. Cigarette smoke alone chokes the outside air. At one end of Camden High street, on the other side of an elegant little bridge arching over the canal, is a sprawling partly subterranean mall structure. There you find cool antique jewelery at bargain basement prices. I found a basement crammed with plenty of bargains, sure — wallets made from swatches of Indian silk, WWII gas masks, books no one will ever read. Gosh, I’ll buy it, because it’s cheap!
I had been hunting for kids with eight point racks jutting from their foreheads, but saw more tourists in shorts than teens with tatts. When I reported to my disappointing Camden-town trip to my South Ken friends, they told me that most horns are hardly visible. More like a young buck’s budding antlers, they’re hidden under the hairline, perhaps to evoke the bearer’s devilish nature.
On my return to Africa soon, I plan to find the plastic surgeons who are implanting them and learn what material these of horn implants, whether they’re synthetic or the real thing, which, depending on what animal it comes from, could give rhinoplasty new meaning. Whatever regrets I may have at 65 of my bamboo-needle Bangkok tattoos, I doubt I’ll regret not getting a horn job.
Never say never.