Recently, I’ve been feeling a bit nostalgic for my youth. This has manifested itself as a sudden desire to read the autobiographies of various stars of the Britpop era: Louise Wener’s Different for Girls (charming and very funny) and Luke Haines’s Bad Vibes (quite funny but also quite nasty).
I found myself trying to explain the whole Britpop phenomenon to a somewhat mystified Czechman.
“Well, there was Oasis, who were from Manchester, then there was Blur – ”
“Yes, Blur. What’s their most famous song? That one that goes WOO-HOO?”
“Song 2? No! Of course not!” As far as I’m concerned, this kind of musical ignorance is on a par with Czechman’s belief that Jim Morrison was black. “It’s Parklife! Or maybe Girls and Boys…”
I get straight onto Youtube and begin filling in the gaps in Czechman’s knowledge of English popular culture. We spend a good couple of hours showing each other the music videos of the tunes we used to like back in the nineties. Czechman regales me with lots of rock bands with big hair. Despite being subjected to this Dad-Rock-fest, I thoroughly recommend this sort of evening in of cultural exchange to any other Anglo-Czech couples out there – and if you happen to be the English one, you know that your tunes are bound to be the best.
Sorry Czech readers, but you know it’s true.
Czechman and I don’t just spend nights in messing around on Youtube. We’ve also been known to watch the odd old TV series or film.
Again, there’s been something of a nostalgic theme to our viewing choices of late.
Back in Czechman’s youth, there weren’t many foreign programmes which met with the Communist seal of approval, but one British cop show made it onto Czechoslovak TV screens: The Professionals.
Czechman was, of course, a fan of that bad boy pair of crime fighters who bend the rules to get the job done, Bodie and Doyle. I’d never seen it before so we decided to watch the first four episodes together: here’s a taster for those of you who also missed out:
Czechman and I are also rather fond of more recent British TV offerings. BBC spy drama Spooks is something of a mutual favourite. One episode in an early series revolves around the shenanigans of some rather nasty Serbians. It’s then that we spot him.
“Hey, isn’t that bloke actually Czech?”
Yes, I’m right. I’ve successfully spotted a certain Karel Roden, who is playing an Serbian arms dealer. If memory serves me, he also pops up in one of the Bourne films as a Russian baddie. How very versatile.
I love it when I see a Czech actor in an American film or come across a Czech-related reference in a novel or short story or song. Somewhere in the vast novel Middlesex there’s a one-line mention of a Czech friend of the protagonist. She’s never referred to again, but for as far as I’m concerned, it was still a pleasure to meet her. Then there’s the unfortunate Czech gangster who is particularly proud of his nation’s sausages and comes to a nasty end in an early episode of The Sopranos. Nothing else springs to mind right now but hopefully you see what I mean.
I’m always thrilled when I come across these little Czech references. For me, coming across a mention of Czechland in an unexpected context is pleasing, surprising and a tiny bit exciting. Do other Czechophiles out there who feel the same? What Czech cultural references have you stumbled across elsewhere? Do share them in the comments section!