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Spaniards take an educated look at the art of chatting-up

You would imagine that young people in the land of Don Juan would need little instruction on how to pick up members of the opposite sex. Spain's opportunities for sexual contact arelegendary.

This is the nation that invented the piropo - a man's hissed compliment, poetic rather than lewd, to a woman as she passes him in the street.

Why then, does a sex professor deem it necessary to supplement what comes naturally with a university course entitled "I want to pick you up"? A two-month course on establishing sexual relations between young couples starts next week at the Public University of Navarra in Pamplona.

The course is run by Jose Luis Garcia, a clinical psychologist and sexology specialist, who insists its purpose is absolutely serious. "Young people don't talk about sexuality amongst themselves, they don't talk about contraception. Very few parents talk about these things, and there is in effect no sexual education in schools," he said yesterday. In 18 years as a clinical psychologist, Dr Garcia has seen countless youngsters in their teens and early twenties suffering from problems of sexual relationships, inability to communicate and the pain of breaking up.

The course will cover, for example, how a couple can rekindle desire if they reach a stage of sexual monotony. Dr Garcia proposes talking, watching an erotic film, or finding a new place for the sexual act.

He urges young people to "express frankly their sexual desires" which includes the following advice to the person making the first move: "Don't get drunk, don't resort to elaborate deceptions, be frank and open."

Not much role then for the old piropo, which anyway is not what it was. The days when someone might shadow your steps murmuring "Your eyelashes are so long they could tie up my swollen heart and prevent it bursting with love for you," have given way to the all- purpose "Guapa!" (beautiful).

Dr Garcia's seminar will not help towards a degree. It is an optional course - extra-curricular activity, you might say.