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You turn 70 years old and to celebrate the milestone, you decide to buy yourself a piece of art – marked permanently into your skin.

Is it respectable for a septuagenarian to get a tattoo? Lady Judy Steel, the wife of Scottish peer and former Liberal Democrat leader, David Steel, didn't have any hesitations when she decided to treat herself to a tattoo of a three-inch pink jaguar on her left shoulder.

"I saw someone with a tattoo that I really liked, and I realised that tattooing can actually be an art work so decided to give one to myself for my 70th birthday," Lady Steel, now 72, told The Sunday Telegraph.

The tattoo, which she described as the perfect present, shocked some of her peers but she said the experience was "very liberating because it was sort of proving that you're never too old enough to do mad things."

Lady Steel didn't tell her husband, who is Baron Steel of Aikwood, before she went to the tattoo parlour because she knew he would try to convince her out of it.

And when she finally revealed her tattoo to her husband, he thought it was temporary.

"He's still a bit uncertain about it and I don't think he's convinced. Some of David's political friends think it's perhaps not suitable for a 70-year-old. They think it's quite eccentric, but when you're getting old, I think you can be more eccentric."

While her three children are still wary about her tattoo, which was taken from her husband's coat of arms, her grandchildren love it. "My eldest granddaughter thought it was very cool and went off to school boasting about her granny's tattoo."

Can you be too old to get a tattoo?