In 1967 the young Scottish music student, Alistair Beattie, won a British Council scholarship to spend two years studying at the Academy of Musical Arts in Prague. It proved quite an adventure, as he lived through all the hopes of the Prague Spring and the bitter disappointment that followed the Soviet-led invasion. Alistair Beattie was recently in Prague again, playing the viola in the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra. While he was here he told Radio Prague about his very first experience of Czechoslovakia thirty-six years ago.
"When I was a student I was coming to Prague and at the time I was driving a battered old Morris 1000 around. But I thought - I'm not taking that to Prague - and I was persuaded to buy an old Skoda. On the way to Prague I was driving it down through Belgium and a couple of mirrors fell off there and got into Germany and more things fell off it. I eventually limped into Prague with the exhaust hanging off and the thing in a pretty terrible state. I drove it straight to the first Skoda service place I could find, thinking - at least I've got a Czech car, this will be fine, they'll put it all to rights. And the Czech mechanic came out, looked at it and said - oh no, it's a right hand drive. The only place you'll get spare parts for that is in England."