Czechs are a disarmingly honest bunch. As I’ve mentioned many times before, they don’t sugarcoat things for you. Don’t ask if that dress makes your bum look big or whether you look a bit tired today unless what you’re after is the truth rather than a morale boosting fib.
I may poke fun at being called spoilt and western by Czechman but I’m still impressed by the many ways in which Czechs see through the fakery of modern life. Here are some of them.
Jak se řekne ‘The Property Ladder’?
Of course buying your own flat/house/cowshed to live in is better than chucking money away on rent – if you can afford it of course. What Czechs have so far avoided doing is getting sucked into the whole concept of ‘The Property Ladder’.
As a young twenty something in England, you have it drilled into you by the grown-ups that you should save up as much cash as possible for a deposit on a shoebox flat somewhere so that you can ‘get on the property ladder.’ The implication is, if you don’t get your foot on the first rung a.s.a.p, you’ll never get to climb up to the top of the pile and own a flash pad that Victoria Beckham/The Duchess of Cambridge/Karel Gott might be envious of.
Because the idea is, in the UK at least, that once you’ve bought your first home (with the bank’s money no doubt) that you won’t stay in it for long. Oh no. Once your income increases the idea is that you take one step up the property ladder and buy somewhere with more bedrooms/a garden/in a nicer area.
In Czechland, however, if you’re fortunate enough to become your own landlord, the expectation is that you’ll stay in that home until the day you die. Which may go some way to explaining why Czechman insisted we look at so many flats before signing on the dotted line. Anyway, this might sound a boring and unambitious way to live – until you remember that it was artificially inflated housing prices (in the US admittedly) that caused the current worldwide economic downturn. You don’t catch many Czechs saddling themselves with a ridiculously huge mortgage to keep up with the Joneses or the Novaks.
Stupid cupid: Czechs say no to fake anniversaries
You’ll be aware no doubt that February 14th is Valentines Day. While it would be nice if Czechman at least attempted to do something romantic on this date, I do secretly admire his reasons for not doing so. He rather convincingly argues that it’s all just commercial nonsense imposed on the Czechs after the Revolution as another way to tap into the post-Communist emerging market.
Back in England, we’re suckers. These days on Mother’s Day we’re not expected to splash out on presents and cards but Kindles and I-Pads too. And then there’s Father’s Day to think about too. Google confirms a Grandparents Day also exists. Don’t get me wrong: our nearest and dearest deserve recognition for all the support they’ve given us over the years but creating these artificial anniversaries just seems like a cynical way for the capitalist machine to rinse more cash out of us.
Czechs wouldn’t fall for this nonsense. I do hope that I get a kiss under the blossom from Czechman on May 1st though: that will only cost him his dignity.
Hands off our Becherovka: Booze = national identity
I’m probably going to get into trouble with this last one but hey, sometimes it’s fun to court controversy.
I don’t really like Becherovka. Yes, I know that this particular form of alcohol is as much a part of Czech national identity as that world famous beer, Pilsner. It’s been explained to me that it’s made from a secret family recipe and that it can cure every kind of ailment from a tickly cough to an itchy leg. Still, the way the Czechs hang onto it is perhaps another sign that they refuse to compromise their national identity, in the same way that a recent advertising campaign for Irish whiskey associates a rejection of all that’s dishonest in the modern world with the authenticity of their tipple.
Death to Dishonesty – drink Becherovka! Would it work? If it’s good enough for the Irish…