An Insipid Affair31 October 2010 Zie Nederlandse versie
by Arnold Jansen op de Haar
Young women can now freeze their ovaries so that they can be used by the time they are around forty, according to Dr Sherman Silber from the fertility clinic in St Louis, Missouri. ‘Trick or treat?’ as children would say when travelling from house to house at Halloween.
I can imagine the text for a personal ad: ‘Attractive woman with frozen ovaries is looking for similar type man with frozen sperm.’ I think this is a rather insipid affair. I don’t want to be present when, in 2030, it is announced that Paris Hilton has been thawed. If that is the case we'd better make sure that we freeze Silvio Berlusconi’s crown jewels.
Halloween comes from Hallow-e’en, or All Hallows Eve, All Saints Eve (31 October), the evening before All Saints. The Celts believed that on this day, the ghosts of dead people came back to earth to claim a living body for the coming year.
Let’s return to Dr Silber. His new technique was given worldwide publicity just before Halloween. Increasingly, people marry later and Dr Silber provides the solution. He freezes the ghost, only to release it twenty years on. Just an idea: dress up as a frozen ovary for Halloween.
I think you shouldn’t mess about too much with the world beyond, deceased or unborn. Many people believe in star signs, pinpointing the moment you are born. I believe in conception, the moment you are created.
I was conceived on New Year’s Eve: star sign champagne, ascendant fireworks. Apart from an occasional depression I am of a cheerful disposition. Suppose that in twenty years time an ice baby is born from Paris Hilton’s ovary and Silvio Berlusconi’s sperm, it can’t be blessed. It will be a frigid child.
People who celebrate Halloween believe in ghosts. I do believe in ghosts but Halloween is not my thing. Halloween is a watered down version of All Souls.
Once, I was being trained to become an army officer. We were on exercise in the Dutch province Drenthe. It is full of Neolithic graveyards. The Dutch call them ‘hunebedden’, other Europeans speak of dolmens. These dolmens are five thousand years old and I was assigned the task to await my platoon seated on one of these enormous stones.
There was a full moon and a stiff wind straight from the North Pole battered the fields. Tree tops groaned. My hair stood on end. Those were the longest hours of my entire life. The stones seemed to come to life and I did see human forms. I just about managed to keep them at bay by singing loudly ‘It’s a Long Way to Tipperary’. Since this experience I am convinced: ghosts exist.
An acquaintance told me that his parents had a similar experience during a camping holiday in Northern France. They were down to earth people, not afraid of anything. Yet during the night, from their camper’s window, they saw the First World War armies trooping past.
All Saints is followed by All Souls. This prompts people in Middle and South America to bring food and drinks to burial grounds to pacify ghosts, a lovely outing for all the family.
Cosily sharing drinks with ghosts appeals more to me than Halloween. So on 2 November, I might well visit my father’s grave with a bottle of ‘jenever’ (Dutch gin). Or even better with a bottle of sherry, Harvey’s Bristol Cream was his favourite tipple. At 71 he ran out of steam.
I might even take my 86 year old mother. We will raise a glass to together. I will tell them how pleased I am to be born out of love, star sign champagne, ascendant fireworks, without ice.
© Arnold Jansen op de Haar
© Translation Holland Park Press
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