25-07-2004

Hello from sunny Prague. Summer has started in earnest and we are finally enjoying proper summer weather.

But let's get straight to your letters, of which we received quite a lot in the past week. We very much appreciate those informing us about new listeners' clubs being founded, such as the one from Mr Asim Sharif from Pakistan.

Roger Cook from the United Kingdom wanted to share his thoughts about the Czech Republic.

"My daughter-in-law comes from Olomouc. My wife and I were lucky enough to visit Olomouc last year, be it only for four days. We were greatly impressed with the town and the transportation system (the trams), but most of all by the Czech people. It was, I must admit, a nice surprise to realise just how much we have in common, especially when it comes to the most important of all human traits, a rather dry sense of humour. God Bless the Czech Republic, even though I betted and lost on their Euro 2004 football squad!"

Thank you, Mr Cook, for your nice e-mail.

Our listeners have also often commented on the content of our programmes. For example, Laurence Almond from Los Angeles, California, sent us his comment on the recent headline-making case of the so-called "caged" and "netted" beds. Those are used in some psychiatric hospitals in the Czech Republic to protect agitated or aggressive clients from hurting themselves and to prevent them from harming others. Recently, the use of those beds was criticised by some human rights groups and also the author of the famous Harry Potter books, Joanne Rowling, who sent letters of complaint to President Vaclav Klaus and Prime Minister Vladimir Spidla. Mr Almond writes:

"J.K. Rowling should keep her mouth shut. The hypocritical author wrote her books "on the backs" of the British taxpayers - both rich and poor. She lived off the "dole", while she wrote her books. What does she know about anything, beyond English grammar and punctuation? She lives in her fantasy world and should stay there."

Well, quite strong words there. We must say that it was mainly criticism from abroad that initiated a broad discussion on the topic and also on the subject of health care in the Czech Republic in general. The use of caged beds has now been banned and the use of netted beds has been minimised. Earlier this week Prime Minister Vladimir Spidla sent a letter to Ms Rowling, explaining to her that caged and netted beds could not be described as "torture" and that the level of health care in the Czech Republic is comparable to other developed countries. President Klaus's reply to Ms Rowling is expected soon.

Vladimir Val Cymbal from the United States sent us an e-mail commenting on our earlier programme about the name of this country. Many people in the Czech Republic think the two-word name is too long and clumsy and have been coming up with suggestions for a short and snappy name which would be easy to pronounce and remember. One of the more successful suggestions was "Czechia".

Mr Cembal quotes the title of our programme:

"Will the name "Czechia" ever catch on? I certainly hope not. Ceska Republika /Czech Republic, is much more dignified and not that long, nor any harder to pronounce than 'Czechia'. If one must shorten things then let it be Cechi/Czechi."

Well, the name you suggest sounds very much like "Cechy" - the Czech word for Bohemia, which does not include Moravia and Silesia, the other two historic lands that form the Czech Republic. So I am afraid we'll have to keep looking...

 

Time to repeat the question for the month of July:

"What is the name of the Bohuslav Martinu opera about a girl from a town where no-one can remember their past?"

Please get your answers to us by July 31st, you still have a week to go. Send them as usual to the Radio Prague English Section, 120 99 Prague 2, the Czech Republic or by e-mail to english@radio.cz

25-07-2004

Choose Karel Gott´s greatest hit (More)