Imagine coming home to your flat to find it has been invaded by 500 bats. No, that's not the latest horror movie - it is a real life story that happened to a woman in Plzen, west Bohemia. Who won the Man of the Year contest in the Czech Republic? And, the police in Pribram are investigating the theft of one of their colleagues - who may be gracing someone's garden. Find out more in this week's Magazine with Daniela Lazarova.

A woman from Pilsen had a nightmare experience when, on her return home from holiday, she found her flat had been turned into a temporary bat shelter.

There were some 500 bats in the place - flying around, hanging from the ceiling, paintings, curtains - filling every conceivable nook and cranny. The place was black with bats, there was a terrible stench and the floor was covered with bat droppings, the woman said. She reportedly took one step into the flat before she turned and fled, screaming for help. According to animal welfare workers this is the highest number of bats ever found in a human dwelling -and it took them close to two hours to capture them all. The lesson to be learnt from that story is - never leave your windows open when you go on holiday: you never know who may wonder in...

Jaromir Jagr and Andrea Veresova, photo: CTKJaromir Jagr and Andrea Veresova, photo: CTK The Czech tabloid press is having a field day - Czech hockey star Jaromir Jagr's love affair with Slovak model Andrea Veresova has hit the rocks. The couple who are under constant press scrutiny here in the Czech Republic were expected to announce their engagement it the spring. But Blesk Magazine now says Veresova is having a good time with Formula 1 driver Eddie Irvin, behind Jagr's back and the romance appears to be well and truly over.

"Public servants spend their work hours browsing porn web-sites - and you are footing the bill" Mlada Fronta Dnes warned its readers recently. The paper reports that computers belonging to various state bodies and administration offices are being used to access porn sites on a regular basis. Czech soldiers and rail employees are said to be especially active in this respect. Employees of the justice ministry came third with environment and interior ministry employees not far behind. When challenged to explain this most of those concerned said they sought out the pages within their work commitments or by pure chance. Are you into cyber sex- look out Big Brother is watching! -the paper warns.

Milan Soucek, photo: CTKMilan Soucek, photo: CTK The winner of this years Man of the Year contest in the Czech Republic is 22 year old Milan Soucek, a student from Prague. Twelve finalists, from a thousand contesters, fought for the title at a gala evening in Nachod last week. The audience roared its approval and cheered the contesters on as they flexed their muscles and demonstrated the latest fashions in underwear. Like the Miss contests there was an interview, a voluntary discipline and a fashion show. There are so many contests for beautiful girls - said the organizer of the event - we wanted to show that we have some great looking men as well. The winner got a motor scooter, an all-expenses-paid exotic holiday and a lot of admiring looks.

They say a glass of red wine a day is healthy - and Czechs are not averse to great tasting medicine. Although beer is still the number one drink in the Czech Republic, Czechs won't say no to a glass of good wine. A recent survey showed that the average Czech drinks one litre of wine per week, and 4.3 litres of beer. 14 percent of Czechs drink wine daily.

 

The Zoo near Hluboka nad Vltavou has come up with a brilliant idea. It has asked five woodcarvers to produce a set of life-size wooden animals which are to be placed outside the animal cages in the zoo. Blind children will then be able to get a fair idea of what a bear of lion looks like - and doubtless sighted children will also avail themselves of the opportunity of riding on a bears back or patting a tiger. Congratulations to the Hluboka nad Vltavou Zoo - the only question that comes to mind is why did someone not think of this long ago.

Holesov in eastern Moravia wants to set a new record in the most bizarre discipline - if one can call it that. People are to form a human chain with a water melon being handed, overhead, from one person to another as far across the town as possible. Possibly this is an excuse to hold what has been described as a "Melon-eating orgy" scheduled for this weekend. There is to be a contest in who can consume a whole melon in the shortest time possible, the most sausages, or the most spun sugar candy on a stick. I wonder why it is that Czechs are so fond of competing in how much they can eat of something?

A survey focussing on Czechs' taste in music ascertained that pop-music is top of the ladder in popularity ratings with 46 percent of respondents listing it as their favourite music genre. Country and western came second, preferred by 38 percent of respondents. Twenty eight percent of Czechs listen to brass band music - a great favourite with our listeners abroad - and twenty three percent of Czechs head straight for the classical music stands in music stores.

The police in Pribram are investigating the theft of one of their colleagues - one of their model colleagues, to be precise. The tin dummy policeman had been standing on the roadside since June trying to get Czech drivers to slow down on a dangerous stretch of the road. The police in Pribram planted 4 such dummies in critical places around town and planned to change their posts regularly in order to maintain the element of surprise. Now one of the dummies has disappeared, confirming the often used Czech saying that it is possible to steal just about anything. The police are sure that someone stole the officer as an accessory for their own house or garden and have been making the rounds -surreptitiously checking out gardens and hedges in the hope of getting him back. Clearly the demand for such "figures of authority" is definitely there - a mark that the Schweik legacy is still very much alive even in 2003. During the local election in the town of Kladno last year cardboard life-size figurines of the mayor appeared in some parts of the city as part of the election campaign. Some Kladno residents were delighted with the idea of taking the mayor home - and in the end the police had to keep an eye on the mayor's doubles as well.

Speaking of various pranks that people play - one that has become fairly widespread is that of pranksters changing the name plates of towns by spraying over the real name and writing in another. This usually happens overnight and in the morning people wake up in a completely different town. One such prankster recently changed every single nameplate in one Czech town to Kocourkov - which in Czech suggests a place where nothing functions normally and everything is topsy turvy.