The pro-monarch's league says it wants Prince Charles to be king of the Czech Republic. Preparing to bare all for the sake of art? Find out how your employer feels about it. And, why are truck drivers in the Czech Republic stocking up on tin-foil? Find out more in Magazine with Daniela Lazarova.
The procession of Three Kings - a re-enactment of the Three Wise Men's journey to visit the infant Jesus - annually marks the end of the Christmas festivities in Prague. The event, which has a twelve year tradition, was the brainchild of Spanish priest Alberto Geraldo who came to Prague 13 years ago. His idea was to bring a spiritual note to a holiday that has become increasingly consumer driven. It was received with great enthusiasm and ever since every year on January 6th Prague is full of three kings of all ages collecting money for charity. The main procession -watched by several hundred people- rides from Prague Castle to Loreto Square where a live nativity scene is set up. The three kings make speeches to the baby Jesus and hand over their gifts after which a live band leads the carol singing. However even if you are stuck at home with a bad cold on the day you will not miss out on the fun. Your "local" three kings -usually schoolchildren - will come right up to your door to wish you a happy New Year and accept whatever you wish to contribute to charity.
None of the kings are real of course - but there are some people who wish they were. On January 6th the pro-monarch league traditionally makes its way to Prague Castle to demonstrate in favor of turning the Czech Republic into a monarchy. It is a funny costumed procession wearing the colors of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, waving the Austro-Hungarian flag and singing the Austro-Hungarian anthem. Led by a donkey and a goat it goes from Wenceslas Square to Prague Castle, which it claims President Klaus is inhabiting illegally. The pro-monarchs league believes that the country would be better off with a king on the throne and says the drawn-out political crisis is ample proof of this. They have been looking around for a possible successor and their favorite candidate is Prince Charles. "It doesn't look like he's going to be king of England - so maybe he'd like to come over and be our king" - one of them said.
Now to come down to earth - Czechs may not be happy with their present leadership but they see no reason why they shouldn't make some extra money by betting on developments. The two hot topics right now are: will the government survive a vote of confidence and will the prime minister's mistress give birth to a boy or a girl. At least the nation hasn't lost its sense of humour. Next thing we know people will be betting on whether the prime minister will go on paternity leave.
The Czech Republic's new electronic toll system has only been in operation for two weeks and already Czech drivers have found a way to get round it. The system introduces electronic "gates" that tally tolls for trucks 12 tonnes or over. Every truck must have a cabin signal box which is picked up by the gate's screening device but drivers have found that if you wrap the signal box in tin-foil it goes undetected. Another way to pass undetected is to spray your windscreen - where the box is - with a spray available on the black market. Both methods are said to work reliably but the electronic toll systems company Kapsch which has installed the system here in the Czech Republic has warned drivers against using them - saying that the gates monitoring device would monitor the passing truck anyway and alert the traffic police. "Of course, we've no doubt they will try it anyway" a Kapsch spokesman said.
Czech employers are pretty tolerant with regard to people's private lives but a clerk recently got the boot for stripping off to pose nude for an artist. The artist used a variety of models - government clerks, nannies and even a court administrator who agreed to bare all for the sake of art. The exhibition attracted a record number of visitors - but the said clerk's employer was not amused. The last time something similar happened was when a court judge faced disciplinary action for taking part in a Miss Bikini contest!
Many Czech schools have a serious problem fighting alcohol-abuse, smoking and drug abuse among teenagers. A primary school in Litomysl has just made headlines as the first Czech school to buy an alcohol detector. For months teachers suspected that some of the boys secretly drunk. "You could smell it on their breath but we had no proof and they just denied it when we informed their parents" the headmaster said. The school eventually decided that the only solution was to buy an alcohol detector such as those used by the traffic police and make the boys take a breath test. The parents all gave written consent - and things are said to have improved considerably since.
If you sometimes think that your children will drive you crazy - then maybe a story from the Czech Republic will make you feel better. The parents of a 13 year old boy face court proceedings and may have to pay thousands of crowns in damages after their son made two hoax calls to Ruzyne Airport in September of last year. The boy, who was in bed with the flu, was bored and decided to test the country's emergency services. He called Ruzyne Airport to say he had planted a bomb on the premises. The Airport immediately cancelled all flights and evacuated the premises. A thorough search revealed no bomb and flights were restored in several hours time. However the kid made a second hoax call the same afternoon and the whole exercise was repeated, to the cost of millions of crowns. The boy is underage so the police have closed the case but the airport has said it will take the matter to court and demand compensation from the boy's parents. So has your child got you into a bigger mess than that?
The Czech Republic is preparing to host the second World Championship in Sudoku. It's to be held from March 28th till April 1st, under the auspices of President Klaus, and will be attended by the cream of the crop from 22 states. Sudoku has proved to be a huge success with Czechs - replacing crossword puzzles as a popular pastime. A fifth of all Czechs do Sudoku puzzles on a regular basis. And if you need proof of that - I have it - the winner of the first ever World Championship in Sudoku held in Italy last year was 33-year old Jana Tylova from the Czech Republic.