In Mailbox this week: Czech Television’s decision to apologize to President Václav Klaus for broadcasting footage of the president warming up ahead of his New Year's address; Vizovické Pastries; impressions from winter Prague. Listeners quoted: Stephani Shelton, Mike & Audrey Dworek, David Eldridge.

Václav KlausVáclav Klaus Hello, this is Mailbox, Radio Prague’s weekly letters programme. Thanks for tuning in.

Last week Radio Prague included in its news bulletin a report on Czech Television’s decision to apologize to President Václav Klaus for broadcasting footage of the president warming up ahead of his New Year's address to the nation aired live from Prague Castle. Stephani Shelton from New Jersey wrote in saying she found the story about the “unauthorized" video “rather upsetting in a country where journalists consider themselves a free press”:

“Since when do the press need ‘permission’ to use video shot of a President or any other official shot in public? And for something so silly. Warming up? What in the world is wrong with that? Lots of public speakers do it. Also actors. Also newspeople like me. As a broadcast journalist who had led seminars and workshops for journalists in former communist countries – it is hard for me to believe you would print a story like this without even a hint of challenge. Apologize to Klaus? Punish the person responsible? Unless there is something there which is not obvious from your story – this is an absurdity in a country with a supposedly free press. I thought Czech TV had separated itself from government control years ago. Being a public broadcaster does not mean your news department is censored by the government.”

Thank you for that response.

Do you agree with Stephani Shelton? Do you think Czech Television should apologize to the president? Should it have broadcast the footage in the first place? Please, let us know what you think at english@radio.cz.

Vizovické PastriesVizovické Pastries Now, here is one more look back at Christmas. This letter arrived from Indiana, signed by Mike & Audrey Dworek:

“Several years ago my wife and I visited the Czech Republic the home of her family. We were able to purchase some of the Vizovické Pastries Christmas Ornaments. Is there a web site where we can purchase more of the ornaments? I tried czech-tradition.com, but it is no longer working. Any help would be greatly appreciated.”

Vizovické pastries are made from a simple mixture of flour, water and vinegar. The ornaments and figures are decorated with black pepper, cloves and other spices, glazed with beaten egg and baked. The tradition originates in the Moravian village of Vizovice but has spread throughout the country. You can find links to online shops if you type “vizovické pečivo” meaning “Vizovické pastries” into your search engine or you can go straight to the town’s official website www.vizovice.eu.

Staying with folk traditions, a short time ago we informed you here on Mailbox that Czech Radio was running an unusual project. It is putting together a documentary on lullabies from different parts of the world. Czech Radio reporters have collected a number of samples from different countries and cultures and they have also turned to the different language sections of Radio Prague for further help.

If you would like your favourite lullaby to be featured on the programme, you are most welcomed to send us a recording of you or your family or friends singing it. Don’t worry about how professional it sounds, it is the authenticity that counts. Also we would be very much interested to hear the story behind the song.

This is an example from the Czech Republic:

Do you know a lullaby you’d love to share with others? Just send your home recording in any format; the address will follow shortly.

And finally, our faithful listener from England, David Eldridge, is this time writing from the Czech capital:

“Greetings from your cold Prague. I am just catching up with a few downloaded audio files of the past few days broadcasts. The hotel is comfortable, warm and friendly and judging by what was said in a recent report by Ruth Fraňková on a retro exhibition, this accommodation should command a premium rate. The room's telephone is a Tesla model Ds5800 made in Stropkov, Czechoslovakia, and the lamp shades are frosted screw-necked preserve jars. Today I passed through Hlavní nádraží (not a lot seems to be going on there) and tomorrow I shall visit the materials exhibition at the botanical gardens that was featured in Daniela Lazarová's ‘Magazine’. As I am currently wearing a hemp shirt, hemp jeans and bamboo socks so I think that qualifies me as having an interest.”

We certainly hope that you will not be disappointed by the sights and events featured in our broadcasts.

Thank you very much for your comments and questions, they are always welcomed at Radio Prague, 12099 Prague or english@radio.cz.

And before I say good-bye, here is our January mystery man once more:

This month’s mystery person was born on January 5, 1931 in the eastern town of Loučná nad Desnou but has lived in other countries for most of his life. He is considered to be one of the world’s greatest classical pianists. Last month he gave his last public performance after a concert career of sixty years.

Your answers need to reach us by the end of January and four of you who answer correctly will be sent small gifts courtesy of Radio Prague. Please tune in again next week if you can and until then, take care.