In this edition of Magazine: a security guard hand-cuffs himself by accident; a man is arrested after failing to notice that his passport contains an inconceivable expiry date and Brno tests a pissoir for dogs.
A security guard for a private company in Prague recently suffered a humiliating experience after managing to handcuff himself out of boredom. The guard was alone on duty and playing with the handcuffs when they suddenly clicked into place and the guard realized that he did not have the key to free himself. After vainly trying to reach several colleagues the man gave up and called the police who had a good laugh when they arrived to free him. The incident was reported on by a police spokeswoman who did not say if the man was allowed to keep his job.
A Ukrainian national living in the Czech Republic decided to change his identity for a quick visit to Paris. Knowing that as a Lithuanian citizen he would not need a visa to France the man paid 1,500 euro for a false passport and set off. Much to his surprise the fake document was detected almost immediately by a police patrol in Bavaria. The reason was simple: the document stated that its validity expired on July 55th, 2016. The officers noted that “no interpretation of the Gregorian calendar gave them reason to believe that such a day might come round.”
The Moravian metropolis of Brno boasts a unique invention: a pissoir for dogs. The pissoir resembles a street light favoured by canines and is riddled with holes. The urine is soaked up by the device that minimizes the smell and protects other favourite targets – such as street corners and car tires –from being soiled. According to the daily Mlada fronta Dnes communities in Austria, Germany and Brazil have shown an interest in acquiring the contraption.
A 16-year-old youth from the town of Zlin made headlines in connection with an incident he was determined to cover up. The youth was buying condoms for the first time and was so embarrassed to go to the cash register with them that he decided to nick a pack. Unfortunately a security guard noticed and called in two police officers from the street to deal with the incident. The embarrassed adolescent was forced to buy the condoms flanked by two burly officers and made the local papers the next day. He could hardly have ensured greater publicity had he paid for it.
The beer-brewery in Plzen which gave the world the famous Pilsner Urquell brew is gearing up for a major birthday bash marking 170 years since Pilsner Urquell first saw the light of day. It has erected a huge clock – dubbed “the beer Orloj” outside its factory gates showing not just the time and date but how many days left to the anniversary and how many pints of the popular brew have been consumed since it came into the world in 1842 – now something over 23 billion pints. The clock was officially “inaugurated” to the sound of Bedrich Smetana’s symphonic poem Vltava played on a carillon. The big day is October 5th of 2012.
The Pilsner brewery also revived an old tradition this year – it sent the Pope a casket of Pilsner Urquell for Easter. The beer, blessed by the bishop of Plzen, was sent along with an original beer mug especially made for Pope Bendict. It was delivered to the Vatican by Czech ambassador Pavel Vosalik and gratefully accepted, according to the CTK news agency. The Pilsner brewery said it planned to make a tradition of this gift and noted that it had in the past supplied the brew to Pope Pius XI and Pope Leo XIII.
Cardinal Dominik Duka has displayed a fine sense of humour by adopting four “birds of a feather” at Prague Zoo. The Cardinal is now the adoptive father of four red-cowled cardinals – a bird species with a bright red head indigenous to Brazil and a fine singer. The cardinal’s choice makes one wonder what animals Czech politicians would choose should they decide to participate in Prague Zoos adoption programme.
Four Prague coffee houses this week offered their clients Rotozaza’s Etiquette –the chance to partake in a performance where you are both actor and audience. Etiquette is a half hour experience for two people in a public space. They wear headphones and are told what to do and say to each other next as the situation develops. Many of the situations are borrowed from film and theatre and expose human communication at its rawest and most delicate. For a half hour participants can shed their own skin and revel in becoming someone completely different caught up in an engineered dialogue and relationship with their counterpart. The project has proved a huge success around Europe since its 2007 premiere and the reaction in Prague has been wholly positive. The dialogues have now been translated into 14 languages but in Prague they were available in Czech, English, German or Spanish for 150 crowns per couple. No so much –considering you both get a lead part and an unforgettable experience!
Charles Bridge has fallen prey to the Love Padlocks craze – with sweethearts fixing padlocks to gates, bridges and monuments as a symbol of their everlasting love. The custom can be traced to Serbia in the first half of the 20th century. Legend has it that Nada, a local schoolmistress fell in love with a Serbian officer named Relja. After they committed to each other Relja went to war in Greece where he fell in love with a local woman from Corfu. Nada never recovered from the blow, and pined away. As young girls from the village wanted to protect their own loves, they started writing down their names, together with the names of their loved ones, on padlocks and affixing them to the railings of the bridge where Nada and Relja used to meet. The custom spread thought today different cities have different explanations for it. In Rome, the ritual of affixing love padlocks to the bridge Ponte Milvio can be attributed to the book I Want You by Italian author Federico Moccia. Either way Prague’s Charles Bridge has fallen prey to the craze as have statues, gates and railings around the city. The spot where St. John of Nepomuk was supposedly thrown into the river is particularly popular. The watermill on Kampa Island is also studded with them. While the authorities leave the padlocks in some places in others they are regularly removed – such as from the statues on Charles Bridge. But then, statues are a frequent target of local artists – especially statues in the vicinity of parks and schools. Writer Eliska Krasnohorska born in 1847 has been given a computer keyboard to hold while the Czechoslovak legionaries sport bright blue shoestrings.
And finally a gang of thieves last week managed to steal an entire railway bridge and 200 metres of rails between the towns of Loket and Horni Slavkov which they sold as scrap metal for the price of 120, 000 crowns. What makes the story even wackier is that the police came to check up on them several times and the thieves convinced them that they were from a construction company which was responsible for the bridge’s maintenance.