Les gens qui ne rient jamais ne sont pas des gens sérieux

Be who you are and say what you mean, those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind

Saturday, April 04, 2009

In Bruges

Last weekend we went to Bruges with some visitors, and it was as quaint and beautiful as I remembered, despite the Belgian rain and a hopeless Polish football match, watched in an Irish pub with excellent cider.

As we're in the countdown to Easter, all the chocolate shops were full of eggs and chicks and bunnies. We came to one and took pictures of this:

and this:

and then, then we spotted this:

How, erm, Eastery.

Anyway, then we came home and watch 'In Bruges' with lots of 'we went there!' and 'remember that bit?' in between the hilarious dialogue. Fun times.

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Thursday, April 02, 2009

No sister of mine

So, back to this nun...

We took our seats, nearer the front than usual, and waited expectantly as the group settled down and the nun walked briskly to the front of the room. She put down her pile of folders and extracted a paper, which she laid down in front of her.

Looking back every so often at her notes, she proceeded to summarise the last meeting (which, if you remember, we missed) and lay the foundations for this one.

'A marriage provides the right context to bring a child into. Some of you though, may not feel quite ready for a child, or wish to maximise your time together before having children [snort from me] and in this case, there are certain precautions you can take that makes it unlikely you will have children.'

She drew out a transparent sheet, covered in graphs, and, apologising for the lack of equipment, held it up against a backdrop of white paper. I recognised the hormone path of a woman's monthly cycle, and tried to stifle a groan. After all, I'd known it was coming.

The next half hour was devoted to explaining the different hormones, their roles, why their levels change throughout the month, why the tempertaure of a woman changes throughout this cycle and so on.

'Didn't you do all this when you were 11?' I whispered to Marek 'Are you kidding?' he replied. 'We had no sex eduation at all.' I tried to control my 'WHAT?' and he shot me a warning look. 'We didn't do this when we were 11' he replied. As I looked around the room, at the faces of the other couples - there were looks of concentration, giggly embarassment and interest. I was the only one who was bored.

Next, the nun told us how us wives could measure our hormone levels, by taking our temperature every day. She explained when you should measure it and what to do if your husband wakes you at 5am to go mushrooming (her example, not mine) and you miss your 7am temperature measurement appointment (you add 0.2 of a degree per hour, which is a clearly flawed method if you take your temperature 10 hours late for example. I stopped myself mentioning this to Marek).

Of course she could not pretend this was the ONLY form of contraception (sorry, family planning, I mean family planning. Contraception is a naughty word.)

We covered condoms, which are highly ineffective according to her, and do little to stop the transmission of sexual diseases, including HIV. I could hardly contain myself, especially after what the Pope had come out with the same month 'That's NOT true' I hissed at Marek. 'What she's saying is just NOT true.' He patted my arm and whispered back 'just contain yourself for another half an hour and you can tell me why what she's saying is rubbish afterwards. OK?'

We covered the pill, which gives you cancer, she said. Again, I leaned over towards Marek 'Remind me to tell you all about the difference between breast cancer and cancer of the uterus, and why the risk of one is increased and the risk of the other is decreased by the pill.' He nodded, resigned. She then said the levels of hormones in rivers had resulted in funny mutations of fish, and that this was the fault of the pill. Marek looked at me. 'Ok, that bit's true' I admitted.

Then she got to the coil, which is clearly just another form of abortion, since it stops an embyo implanting, and that embryo is already A NEW LIFE. 'Oh don't get started on that' I thought. 'I won't make it.'

After a few more lenthy explanations of why we should avoid modern forms of family planning at all costs and stick to the only one the church condones, she turned to us with a big smile. 'So that's that' she said brightly, having just misinformed a group of 50 (minus two or three) about several reliable and literally life-saving methods of family planning. 'Well done, good job' I thought bitterly.

She finished by using her figures to SHOW how tempertaure tracking was the most effective birth control method. I almost laughed out loud. Afterwards she told us all that we should not be scared of having children. That it is a wonderful opportunity we should embrace. That children are small and harmless and are after all the point of marriage. I got out as quick as I could, before I could point at her habit and splutter 'and YOU would know!'

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