13-10-2007

A wave of DNA tests in the wake of a highly publicized baby-swap. Who won the Office Rats Race? And -where did you leave the baby grandma?! Find out more in Magazine with Daniela Lazarova.

The highly publicized baby mix-up that occurred at a Czech hospital - and was uncovered 10 months later by the parents of one of the baby girls - has sparked a wave of DNA testing across the country. The ten or so labs which offer this service say their orders have doubled overnight. Ever since it emerged that staff at Trebic hospital had accidentally swapped two newborns the papers have been full of interviews with other mothers who say that a similar mix up happened to them as well but was luckily detected in time. Medical experts have been trying to quell the panic saying that the chances of such a thing happening are one in a thousand but some parents still want DNA tests as proof and mothers-to-be are instructing their husbands to remain by their side through the entire birth and keep a sharp eye on what's happening with the baby. In general the incident has greatly increased the popularity of DNA tests and many fathers who may have harbored secret doubts now have a good excuse to suggest DNA tests in case "something went wrong at the hospital". According to a survey conducted by sex therapists, the number of people who occasionally cheat on their partners is pretty high - two-thirds of men and half of women admit to straying occasionally. So this DNA craze may not be for the best - especially in view of the poor kids. The parents of these little girls say that even though they know they will be getting their biological child the swap will be agonizing. And to think it all started with one of the fathers getting a good ribbing at the pub about that child of his not looking at all like him.

 

An irresponsible grandma forgot her two-year-old grandchild in the forest last week after having had too much to drink. The forty-four year old woman had had a flaming row with her husband and a few drinks too many when she decided to cool off with a long walk in the forest. She took her grandchild with her and disappeared for a couple of hours. When her daughter failed to reach her on her mobile phone she set out to find them but found only her mother sitting on the outskirts of the forest in a drunken stupor trying to figure out where she had left her grandson. Dozens of policemen, emergency workers and volunteers combed the forest into the late night hours and eventually came across child safe and sound sleeping under a bush at 2:30 am. The little boy is said to be doing well - but it will be a while before his parents let granny baby-sit again.

 

Photo: CTKPhoto: CTK The Office Rats Race is an annual sports and social event for civil servants launched four years ago and despite its name it is fast gaining popularity. Every year more "office rats" come out of their offices to show the public that bureaucrats have a sense of humor and are in top form. They run in their traditional work clothes - men in business suits (jackets and ties) and women in dresses and skirts. Only one exception is allowed - sport shoes. Another essential prop is a mobile phone in one hand and a file folder in the other. The events include a 700 meter race, folder-throwing, a slalom on office chairs, and rope-climbing or "clawing one's way to the top". The event provides many opportunities for informal meetings and teambuilding as well as improving the image of civil servants in the eyes of the public. There is a great deal of company-to-company skirmishing and tough competition between the public and private sector. This year the winner of the main category - the 700 meter race was the Prague Town Hall. Clearly, having so recently conquered Mount Everest, Mayor Pavel Bem keeps his "office rats" in top form.

 

Legend has it that many centuries ago a wheelwright from Lednice made a bet that he would cut down a tree at the crack of dawn, make a wheel from it and roll it all the way from Lednice to Brno before the sun had set. He won his bet - some say with the help of the devil. Today young people in Lednice have brought that legend to life with an annual event called "rolling the wheel from Lednice to Brno". Because few people today are skilled in the art of making a cartwheel - and cutting down a number of trees just for the race would be a pity - they have linked the first two tasks - each team must saw a thick log of wood into two pieces before they are given a ready made cartwheel which they "roll to Brno". Team members take turns running and rolling the cartwheel while the others follow on a bike ready to swap at any point. This year's winning team covered the 68 kilometer distance in 4 hours and 39 minutes, just six minutes short of last year's record.

 

Sometimes a touch a humour is more effective than any number of bans and fines. The mayor of Rudna pod Pradedem had repeatedly asked the locals not to let their dogs and farm animals roam freely about town - with no avail. Because he wasn't getting through to the townspeople he decided to address the animals directly in the town's news bulletin, informing the geese and hens which loitered in public places that they were breaking regulations and could they kindly hold their daily gab-sessions elsewhere. Never before had the news bulletin circulated so well. People passed copies of it over the fence - had a good laugh about whose geese were eating the flowerbeds and - and actually did something about it. The mayor says that in a way their reaction is understandable. "People have had enough of directives and regulations - being told what to do and what not to do, attending meetings. You need to find a fresh approach - and Czechs always respond to humour - so if this will do the trick I am happy to oblige," the mayor said. Well, I hope somebody is saving the monthly copies of the town's news bulletin. It should make interesting reading for future generations!

13-10-2007