Today in Mailbox: sausage stands on Wenceslas Square in Prague, the number of letters and e-mails Radio Prague receives annually, the highest mountain in the Czech Republic, the 17th-century Prague opera diva Josephina Dušek. Listeners quoted: Mark Guy, Mostafa Kamal, Sanusi Isah Dankaba, Ashraful Islam, Vinc Wesley Dusek, Greg MacDonald.

Thanks for tuning in to Mailbox, the programme for your comments and questions. First up we have a few letters to quote and questions to answer and in the second half of the programme you will have a chance to hear an excerpt from Radio Prague’s annual contest entry by Greg MacDonald from Canada who was one of the two finalists for the English section.

Our regular listener Mark Guy from Mississippi read “in horror” – as he put it – Daniela Lazarová’s Letter from Prague about a sausage stand vendor who lost a court battle against the town hall’s decision to get him evicted:

“With the court’s blessing, the decision paves the way for an Albert Speer thinking City Hall to lessen the richness of Vaclavské náměstí by legally banishing small Czech entrepreneurs to the darkness of the non-existent. A better idea would be getting rid of those God awful McDonald’s and Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurants. What in the world are they thinking? My message to City Hall is, get a life! There are more pressing problems in Prague than hotdog vendors! On different occasions and in the wee hours of the night, I have eaten many dogs to curb the pain in my stomach and slow the spinning of my head. Not being able to indulge my feeding frenzy with a greasy dog will diminish my Czech experience after spending hours in places like U Medvídků and Jelínkova plzeňská pivnice.”

It often happens that two or more listeners from different corners of the world ask the same question within a short time of one another. This was also the case with Mostafa Kamal from Bangladesh and Sanusi Isah Dankaba from Nigeria who both asked exactly the same question:

“How many letters and e-mails does Radio Prague receive annually?”

I have the figures here for 2007 and the number was precisely 20,158 of which 7,124 were addressed to the English section. We are very proud of that share and very grateful to you that you keep in touch with us and give us useful feedback for our work.

And Ashraful Islam also from Bangladesh has this question related to the Czech Republic:

Sněžka, photo: CzechTourismSněžka, photo: CzechTourism “Would you please inform me about the highest mountain in the Czech Republic in details? Please keep up the good work.”

Gone are the days when the tallest mountain of Czechoslovakia was Gerlachovský štít in the High Tatras with its impressive 2,654 metres. Since the split of Czechoslovakia, the Czech Republic’s tallest mountain is the much humbler Sněžka in the Krkonoše Mountains. Still, with its 1,602 metres it is visible from afar on a clear day, especially because it is covered with snow for much of the year – hence its Czech name which means “the Snow Mountain”. Sněžka lies on the Czech-Polish border and the peak is accessible either by hiking paths or by a chairlift.

Vinc Wesley Dusek IV from the United States has this question concerning the 18th-century Prague opera diva Josephina Dušek, who played hostess to Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart on his visits to Prague.

“According to my family tree she is a relative of mine. I was wondering if at all possible is there any type of recordings of her voice? 250 years ago, I kinda doubt it, but us Czechs are pretty crafty engineers. Anyway let me know how to get a hold of at least one piece she sang if possible.”

I’m afraid I have to disappoint you there. Josephina died in 1824, a full 53 years before Thomas Alva Edison announced his invention of the phonograph, a device for recording and replaying sound, in 1877.

And now let’s move on to more recent history, with the annual competition entry by Greg MacDonald from Canada:

“I was born in 1951 and I grew up in the land of hockey, Canada. Normally you would think my heroes would be hockey players, but they weren't. My hero was a person most of my friends had never heard about, or even knew how to pronounce his name. My pals thought I looked normal enough, and I did like hockey, and I did have hockey heroes, but the King of all my Hero's was Emil Zátopek, a God in my world.

“I can't really remember the first time I became aware of ‘The Locomotive’ and all his exploits, maybe I was 10 or 11 years old. I do remember reading about this incredible Czech athlete, and seeing video clips of his feats at the Olympics, and many other races on television.

“Zátopek epitomized the true grit in sports. His monumental training regimen was legendary. He personified dedication, sacrifice, perseverance to his trade. ‘Never give up’, was his watchword, and demonstrated this drive for perfection time and time again. “In the early 90's in Halifax Nova Scotia, a local runner put together a team of local elite runners to try and win the Cabot Trail Relay Race, and The Rum Runners Relay Race. He called his team, ‘Team Z’. I was shocked, surprised, and pleased to learn, the team was named as a tribute to Zátopek. This elite team won many team relay races in the 90's in Canada.”

If you’d like to read the rest of the story by Greg MacDonald, you can find the complete text on http://www.radio.cz/en/article/105460


All that remains today is to repeat our monthly competition question for one last time.

This Czech footballer was born in Vienna in 1913. During his career he scored more goals than any other Czech football player and is often cited as one of the highest scoring footballers ever.

You have until Thursday to send us the name of this legendary forward – and a few facts about him if you like – to english@radio.cz. or Radio Prague, 12099 Prague. Next Sunday we will draw four winners who will receive small gifts from Radio Prague. Until then, happy listening!