– God, has it really been over a week since I lasted posted? Damn. Better come up with some of my usual, witty, whimsical observations about life and love in Czechland or else my readers will forget about me.
– Forget witty and whimsical! They’re so last Tuesday. When are you going to stop writing about trivial nonsense like failing to bake a cake in the shape of a lamb and flowery gilded plates? Why not try addressing a really important topic for a change, say racism?
-Or the Czech inferiority complex?
-Done that too – wished I hadn’t.
-Or how about the legacy of Communism? Can it really be blamed for all contemporary Czech society’s ills?
-Hmm, sounds meaty. But today I’m in the mood for frivolous. How about one of those ’10 things’ posts that are contributing to the death of journalism?
Greetings readers! Today’s post has been inspired by another Brit expat writer, Stephen Clarke, and his hilarious book, Talk to the Snail in which he outlines “Ten Commandments for Understanding the French”. According to the first precept, to be French is to be always right. This rather extreme self-confidence might be an explanation for the legendary alleged Gallic rudeness. I am French, therefore I am right – and also superior to you.
While Czechs can be rude, this does not in my view originate from arrogance or any in-built sense of cultural superiority. Now I don’t want Czech readers to start getting big-headed but I think perhaps you could do with reminding about all the things you are right about.
Six Things the Czechs Are (or Were) Right About
1. Eating your main meal at lunchtime
It’s better for your digestion! It’s a decent excuse to escape the office! It saves you having to cook in the evening! It’s more social than shovelling down a sad pre-packed sandwich in front of your desk! Embrace this Czech tradition! (hold off on the exclamation marks in future paragraphs but talking about food gets me excited).
2. Jak to řekne ‘credit crunch’? Or The Art of Frugal Living
Can you imagine Czechs taking out 110% interest mortgages and juggling repayments on five different credit cards? No, because unlike their British and American cousins, they aren’t idiots. If you want to buy something, you save up for it and as far as is humanly possible, this also goes for large purchases like a flat. While I sometimes get sick of the petty penny-pinching of Czechman and his compatriots (‘buy soap instead of shower gel, use one teabag for three cups of tea, blah, blah, blah) when it comes to the big financial decisions, you can’t fault their approach.
How do you say ‘credit crunch’ in Czech anyway? Is this a term that’s bandied about in the media constantly? I suspect not but correct me if I’m wrong…
Chamberlain. Appeasement. That piece of paper that was supposed to secure peace in Europe but didn’t. You were right. We should have defended you, Czechland, but alas, instead you were sold down the river. In my history lessons we were taught we didn’t have a choice – apparently Chamberlain followed a policy of appeasement not to avoid war but to give England much-needed time to rearm – but whatever the reason, it meant the end of Czechoslovakian democracy. Consider this an apology. Sorry chaps.
4. Cubist architecture
Did you know that Czechoslovakia was the only country to construct buildings in a Cubist style? Well you do now. Quirky, eye-catching and timelessly stylish, Cubist architecture is something the Czechs were definitely right about.
5. Being a stay-at-home mum: the option of lengthy maternity leave
I don’t say that juggling career and the responsibilities of motherhood anywhere in the Western world is easy. However, at least in the Czech Republic, you have the option of remaining at home to look after your child for an extended period, even if the level of maternity pay offered is no king’s ransom. In the UK, the financial assistance offered by both employers and the state is of a minimal duration, leaving women no option but to head back to work asap. I know this is a complex issue (perhaps even more so than the impact of Communism on contemporary Czech society) and I don’t believe women should be forced to take three years out of their career but at least in the Czech Republic it seems that the state acknowledges that mothering is an important job worth giving some financial support to.
6. Table service in pubs
Why do we Brits think that being sociable in a pub has to involve crowding around the bar in a mock convivial fashion? Having table service – and a seat – makes the whole pub experience so much more pleasant.