Saturday, April 16, 2011

Betty and the Real World

The Little Dragon:

Jeroen mentions that everyone who marries in Delft has to visit the Steen Wedding Chamber (where the civil ceremony is performed):
Only civil marriages are legally recognized in the Netherlands. 
The civil marriage takes place at a Registry Office (Burgerlijke Stand) and is performed by a Registrar of Marriages (Ambtenaar van de Burgerlijke Stand). A religious ceremony may follow the civil event, but this is optional. It has no legal status and may only be held after the civil ceremony has taken place.

Not to brow-pucker too much but if the State doesn't recognize religious ceremonies as having legal status than why the hubbub about whether they come before or after the civil ceremony? (In the interests of disclosure, I signed the certificate before the religious ceremony (I'm trying to remember when the witness scrawled their John Hancocks--can't for the life of me put my finger on it. It wasn't during my signing, I think.) but I rather like the British idea of retiring to the vestry to sign the registry after...)

At one point, Jeroen drags Constantia off shopping (much against her will!) and hustles her into Susan Small's.  '...while she was still drawing a surprised breath to protest, [he] asked a saleswoman to show his wife jersey suits.  Constantia, still struggling to catch her breath and making hideous faces of warning at him behind the lady's back, was swept away to the fitting room':  I can't find a basic website for Susan Small of London but she is listed (or, I suppose, since it's the name of a company it would be 'it') in directories for vintage clothes.  An image search turns up some wonderful pictures one of which is this little number (see left) in navy blue.

Hilltop Tryst:

In Copenhagen she goes to see the statue of The Little Mermaid. The poor thing has had a rough go of it as it sits so near the harbor's edge:

  • 24 April 1964 – the statue's head was sawn off and stolen by politically oriented artists of the Situationist movement, amongst them Jørgen Nash. The head was never recovered and a new head was produced and placed on the statue.
  • 22 July 1984 – her right arm was sawn off. The arm was returned two days later by two young vandals.
  • 1990 – another attempt was made to cut her head off, which resulted in an 18 cm deep cut in the neck.
  • 6 January 1998 – she was decapitated again,the culprits were never found, but the head was returned anonymously to a nearby TV station, and on 4 February the head was back on.
  • Red paint has been thrown on her several times, including one episode in 1961 where her hair was painted red and a bra was painted on her.
  • 11 September 2003 – the statue was blasted off its rock, possibly with dynamite.
  • In 2004, it was draped in a burka as a statement against Turkey joining the European Union.
  • March 8, 2006 – a [replica of a wee dandy Dublin] was attached to the statue's hand, green paint was dumped over it, and the words March 8 were written on it. It is suspected that this vandalism has something to do with International Women's Day (which is on March 8).
  • March 3, 2007 – the statue was again covered with pink paint.
  • May 2007 – the statue was covered with paint by vandals.
  • May 20, 2007 – it was found draped in a Muslim dress and head scarf.
In Cologne they stay at the Hotel Excelsior Ernst.  I liked one review on TripAdvisor:
Towels wonderful - best ever - large, soft, absorbent. One of us was unhappy with 'severe' nature of bathrobe, saying that it felt like it had been too long in a very hot dryer and was stiff and uncomfortable.
In short, wonderful service but skip the breakfast...


  1. I don't actually know the reason why the religious ceremony has to come after the civil ceremony, but I can think of one.

    Imagine a couple gets married in a church and then heads off to the civil ceremony but they're in an accident before they get there. He dies, but she survives. Who inherits? Is she legally his wife or not? If she was pregnant (sorry, but some people do anticipate the wedding ceremony with some time in Brighton), is the child legally his?

    It's not that those questions don't have an answer, it's that the Dutch courts would so much rather they didn't have to provide that answer. Many people would say "Yes" to all of the above, simply because to those people a marriage before God is a marriage. Legality notwithstanding...

    The separation of church and state -- and before anyone gets upset, don't forget that Iran is a really good example of a country with NO separation of church (mosque) and state -- does require some answers to these questions. We in the US have a legal solution that varies from the Dutch solution in only one respect: We require a license before the marriage ceremony. If we were to make the couple seeking a license say a few words before the clerk, sign a piece of paper, we'd be right there with the Dutch. You have to "get married" before you can get married in a church.

    We require couples to get a license before they get married so that we can avoid all those pesky problem situations: one party is being coerced, is underage, is already married, or is going to welch on his/her legal obligations. So we require a legal step. We just don't make it binding, so couples can back out if they want to before saying "I do."

  2. That makes some sense to me and I have no problem with the idea but the array of legal ramifications hadn't occurred to me. Our clergy don't do the purely religious ceremonies--if it ain't legal then it ain't kosher.

  3. The minister/colleague of mine who married us told me that (in Texas at least) folks don't know it, but they are legally married the moment he and the couple and the witnesses sign the license--whether or not a ceremony takes place. In Texas there is (or was when I got married) a 72-hour mandatory gap between obtaining a license and the signing/ceremony. He admitted to me that he had to perjure himself once when the ceremony was scheduled for two hours too earlier so he had to sign a later time on the license. Ooopsy.