This morning I was rudely awaken by the alarm at 8am. The reason for the alarm on a Saturday was that we had an important appointment at the family doctors.
Part of the marriage dossier, that has to be handed into the Mairie, includes a Prenuptial Medical Certificate. In the long list of things demanded from the State, this is probably the closest I have ever come to the State being involved in my personal affairs. But this is France and France is the State.*
Once I'd got over the 'not another bloody document' gut reaction, I realised that this is probably a good system. Identify a moment in your citizens' lives to ensure that they have a health MOT. The doctor gives a general physical check (blood pressure, respiration, heart, general ailments), a look to see if you're up to date on your immunisations, a check on your blood type and the voluntary opportunity to take an HIV test.
The only reason I think this is a good thing is because the State doesn't get to see the results and neither does your partner, unless you choose to tell him/her. It's a personal check up. The doctor signs a form to say you've been through the procedure and that is what is handed to the Mairie (along with a gazillion other pieces of legal documentation).
I ended up with a couple of test tubes worth of blood extracted from my arm . Much to Frog's annoyance, I have no idea what my blood type is(he is 'special' as a type that is shared with only 1% of the French nation). His annoyance was because we couldn't get the forms signed today as we have to return for my blood type result. The doctor will then advise us if there are any issues on our type compatibility for future children and sign the certificate.
There's a great line in the series Lost when during an 'emergency in the middle of the jungle blood transfusion', they are looking for people with matching blood types. Whilst all around, American characters are offering up their blood types, including the half-dead guy on the floor, the British character Charlie panics "I have no idea, I'm English. We don't know our blood types".
According to my Mum - the source of all sensible knowledge - the theory in the UK is that if we were to find out our blood types when we're young, some might quickly discern that they are not necessarily related to their parents, due to impossible inherited blood type combinations.
So, in 7 - 10 days I will find out. It's quite exciting really. I could make jokes about discovering the hidden truth, that I'm not related to part of my family. But I won't as my sister might get upset. I'm just thinking them very loudly!
*I highly recommend a book called 60 Million Frenchmen Can't Be Wrong (Why We Love France But Hate the French), written by two Canadian sociologists. It brilliantly and vividly explains the French psyche.