So before I was so rudely interrupted by Mick Jagger, we were talking, appropriately enough, about the history of contraception.
THIS IS NOT HAPPENING:
I was just about to tell you how they tried to stop having babies in China.
In 800 BC Master Tung Hsuan advocated feats of superhuman control.
He said that at the last moment the man should: ‘ … close his eyes and concentrate his thoughts … he presses his tongue against the roof of his mouth, bends his back and stretches his neck … he opens his nostrils wide and squares his shoulders and sucks in his breath … to avoid emission.’
Sylvester Stallone has been doing the same thing for years. He called it acting.
In India it was the woman’s responsibility to avoid pregnancy by remaining as dispassionate as possible during intercourse. If she took no interest, then it was thought the womb wouldn’t either.
This rule only applied during daylight, because the sun played such a vital role in conception it was believed perfectly safe to have sex at night without consequences.
The current population of India is 1.24 billion.
If you had sex three times a week then you could perhaps get a baby started in a couple of months.
The Romanic gypsies knew for a fact that a woman could not conceive until she had drunk a glass of water into which her husband had spat. Not quite as good as a mojito, but perhaps it gave rise to the expression: ‘the spitting image of his father.’
MY BABY WROTE ME A FRENCH LETTER
Finally, progress: in the seventeenth century one Colonel Condom (no relation to General Anaesthetic or Corporal Punishment) of the Grenadier Guards invented the first prophylactic. They were made from pigskin and were greeted with great suspicion at first.
Their efficacy was not acknowledged until about a hundred years later when one company started packaging them in tins bearing full color portraits of Queen Victoria and her prime minister, Mister Gladstone, to give the contents an aura of respectability. ‘
(To clarify: they were not shown actually using the product.)
Despite the great service to humanity no nation has been eager to claim the humble condom as its own. To this day the British call them ‘French letters’ while the French refer to them as capotes anglaises – English greatcoats.
STILL IT’S BETTER THAN CROCODILE DUNG
In the late fifties the introduction of the oestrogen pill revolutionized the business of family planning. Initially though, it caused confusion: ‘Will this new Pill,’ one lady wrote to an agony column, ‘stop me getting pregnant by my lover as well as my husband?’
But 4000 years after the Kahun Papyrus and the crocodile dung there is still no method outside of abstinence that is 100% effective. Where there’s a womb, there’s a way.
In 1974 a Swedish woman went to a spoon-bending demonstration by the Israeli psychic, Uri Geller. A few months later she named him in a paternity suit, claiming that he had not only bent spoons with the power of his mind during his performance, he had also bent her copper IUD. She had subsequently become pregnant.
As Master Huang Tsuan could have told her – nothing’s foolproof.
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