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A Curious Contraception

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A Curious Contraception

by Martyn Davies

It was only the other day that I learnt that the first recorded use of contraception was in 2000BC by the Egyptians. I can't say why I learned the fact, just as I can't fathom out why I still know the words to "Maxwell's Silver Hammer" twenty years or so after its release. These things seep into the brain and stick like chewing gum to a sock there to annoy one for all time. But try to remember to take the cake out of the oven or to pick up your sunglasses off the chemist's counter? not a hope in hell.

It was not the fact that the Egyptians used contraceptives that turned my head, clever people to a man those Egyptians. No, it was what they used that made the fact stick. curious contraception: crocodile dung

Crocodile dung.

At this point on the learning curve the mind goes into overdrive. Who first discovered that crocodile dung made a good contraceptive. And how did they use it?

"Hey Cleo, that blasted crocodile has crapped in our bed again. Hmmm I wonder?.".

The importance of dung as a contraceptive was not lost on the Aztecs either. It is a little known fact that Aztec emperor Montezuma had a nephew, Cuitlahac, whose name meant

"Plenty of excrement." Naming the poor, hapless lad in this way obviously served as a handy reminder for Cuitlahac's father to lard on the crocodile dung in future encounters.

The gathering of crocodile dung must have been quite an adventure. There is a fair chance that crocodile dung was not available over the counter at Boots in tablet form, nor was it a question of nipping into the pub toilets and buying it in packets of three from a machine.

"Did you get them Tut?"


"Hope you got the flavoured ones. What flavour did you get?"


Images of rampant young Egyptian men swim through the mind, feverishly searching the banks of the Nile their loincloths outrageously tented by their ardour. "Here crockie, crockie." Imaging the panic if the young man should actually find the crocodile and then realises that, as with all animals, crocodiles go to the toilet after they have eaten. Perhaps it was this thought alone that served as the contraceptive.

"Not now Nephatiti, I've got a headache."

It must have crossed randy young minds that perhaps it was not only crocodile dung that would serve as a contraceptive. Many experiments with other types of dung must have taken place.

"What a fine family you have."

"Yes, this is our eldest 'Elephant crap is useless' and over here we have the twins 'Never use camel' and 'that bloody camel dung is rubbish'. And this little one is our youngest, 'Hey-ho, back to the crocodile shit'."

It has to be said that the whole notion of using crocodile dung is so fraught with improbability that I suspect that it was a ruse put about by Egyptian fathers to deter young courtiers. My suspicion is that the fathers would only grant permission for young lads to take out their daughters with the proviso that they had a lump of crocodile dung in their wallets in case they became overcome by passion. So warned the young men would wade out into the river either to become crocodile crap themselves or to realise that crocodiles only do their toilet after they have eaten. Either way the young lady would not be bothered further by the young man who would simply take himself downtown to find a young lady whose father was either not so discerning or had not heard the one about the crocodile dung.

Today, of course, ardent young men do not have to suffer the indignation of their ancient Egyptian counterparts. All that is required these days is to slip into the toilets at the local pub and feed the slim machine on the wall a couple of pound coins. Of course the draw will fail to slide open and no amount of turning the knob will cause the packet to drop. Kicking and banging the machine is not an option as this will only serve to bring attention to oneself. The result then is the same. Neither the ancient Egyptian nor the modern young man has managed to get the requisite contraception. And, if the young lady in question is sensible, this means that neither young man is going to get his proverbial end away and will have to put up with a quick hand shandy back in his own pit.

Ilustrace: Hana Filipi, 2007

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