In this month’s Magazine: the Beatles in a bottle, a camel trapped in a cesspool, a leaning chimney stack and a new US spy movie is top reflect the 1989 events in Prague.
It all began with a bet in the pub, as so many things do. Emanual Hoda boasted to his friends that he could get a wine-bottle opener with cork attached into an empty wine bottle sitting on the table in front of them. He was on –for a crate of beer - and that very evening went to work on what seemed an impossible task. After several days of nerve-fraying work he had won his crate of beer. And he was hooked. He now collects bottles of all shapes and sizes and fills them with different objects –a camera, a watch, a model of the Eiffel tower, a fire engine or a hockey goalie with a goal post behind him. All his models are one-of- a kind and take many long hours to make since there are no tricks involved. All his interiors are gradually dismantled and painstakingly put back together again with the help of glue and long tweezers. Right now he is in the process of making a birthday gift for his grown son – a model of his home inside a bottle. But his most prized piece of all is a bottle containing the Beatles in concert.
People driving through the town of Bohdalov often stop and stare at one of the town’s biggest curiosities – a leaning chimney stack on an old brick factory. The chimney leans precariously to one side and many a motorist has gone to the mayor’s office to point out the danger. The mayor is unfazed saying the chimney stack has looked that way ever since he moved to Bohdalov 25 years ago and presents no danger to anyone since the site is abandoned. If Pisa can have its leaning tower and Prague its Dancing House why shouldn’t we have a leaning chimney stack – he jokes. The chimney belongs to Bohumil Křestan, a one-time European champion in autocross, who says he wants to maintain his family legacy and will make sure the leaning chimney gets adequate support to prevent it leaning any further or presenting a health hazard. The factory was built by his grandfather in the years of the First Republic but the time when the building industry was booming was cut short first by the war and later by the communist regime which promptly confiscated the property. The family got it back in 1991 and the old factory has been standing there as a sad reminder of what-might-have-been.
Firefighters get called to the most bizarre cases. Last week they saved a 68-year-old man from the town of Chlum from burning to death after he inadvertently set himself of fire. He could have won top prize for the stupidest act of the year – he figured his shoe strings were too long and decided to burn them shorter with his cigarette lighter. His trousers caught fire and he suffered second-degree burns to 30 percent of his body. Meanwhile in the town of Rakovnik the fire brigade was called to pull a camel out of a cesspool where it was wedged in by planks of wood. After double checking the dubious alarm firefighters and police arrived at the respective farm and the animal was freed within an hour.
The police in Příbram have a nose for thieves. Last week they stopped a truck on its way out of town and the powerful fumes coming out of the vehicle made them suspicious. They asked the driver to show them what he was transporting and found it to be a mobile toilet. The man first claimed it was his own and he used it on longer journeys but he eventually spilled the beans and told the police exactly where he had stolen it from.
The town of Třest has just opened two new exhibitions which are attracting predominantly its male inhabitants. One is an exhibition of plastic models of military technology from around the world. Boys –young and old – can admire armed vehicles, tanks planes and the like which are divided into sections representing the American, German, Czech and Russian armies. The other exhibition which is also proving a big attraction shows old radios transistors, television sets and telephones. Among them is the first Czechoslovak television set model made by Tesla in 1953, as well as old cameras and recording devices used by Czech Radio and Czech Television.
U.S. actor and film maker Tim Robbins is to shoot a movie in Prague that will be the first to present the 1989 Velvet Revolution which toppled communism in Czechoslovakia to an international audiences. Tomas Krejči, from the Milk and Honey Pictures, the film's co-producer, told journalists this week the film protagonists would be a CIA agent and a female officer of the Czechoslovak communist secret police who was assigned to approach the U.S. spy and compromise him. The story takes place against the background of the 1989 events. The screenplay is based on a story by Arthur Phillips from his book Wild East: Stories from the Last Frontier, which focuses on the events before, during and after the collapse of the communist regime. The whole film is to be shot in Prague and its surroundings in authentic localities, and its final scenes will be shot in Prague's central Wenceslas Square. Actors for the main roles are yet to be chosen and shooting is to start in the spring.
My Prague – Rob Cameron
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