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A few weeks ago in my Letter from Prague I wrote about the weather and how we hadn't had a proper snowfall for many years and how we'd got used to mild winters. Well, perhaps two days after we broadcast it, I came to regret my words. The heaviest snowfalls in the last 15 years started and didn't seem to want to stop. Almost the whole country was paralysed, cars were stuck on motorways and several villages were cut-off from the world as the ageing fleet of snow clearing vehicles was not able to cope. The weather was making the Radio Prague headlines for days...

During the weeks of the snow calamity we learnt some shocking things; in some regions, for example, the road crews were using snow-ploughs that were as many as 50 years old! I would not like my safety to depend on a vintage car like that! During the decade of mild winters no new vehicles were bought to renew the fleets. We had indeed forgotten that real winters exist...

Last week a young Czech girl died of head injuries on a hiking trip in the Slovak High Tatra Mountains after she slipped on an icy patch and fell over. The kids on the trip were wearing street sneakers... Many people in the cities no longer have proper winter shoes. And I can tell you, I could use a pair now - the pavements on my way to work are still covered with ice or dirty slush. The street cleaners probably forgot where they had put their shovels all those years ago. Our memory is short, which can be a good thing if it helps us forget miserable times. Wading through the slush on my way to Radio Prague's office, every day I pass the headquarters of Radio Free Europe. Since the attacks on the United States the debate has been going on whether the US-funded station should move out of the centre of Prague, as it might become another terrorist target. The implications of September 11th have not been forgotten yet; it's still too recent. But 12 years after the fall of communism, it is easy to forget that Radio Free Europe was one of only few sources that provided people behind the Iron Curtain with information about the opposition within and the free world without. Now the station is providing the same service to countries worse off that Czechoslovakia ever was and for many people it is again the only source of uncensored information. Our memory is short. And I myself am no exception. When I found out I had completely forgotten that I was to write my Letter from Prague for today, I used it as inspiration and chose to write about short memory. You know, sometimes it can be a good thing...