I should fly so high


Recently an incredible story here in Prague made headlines throughout the Czech Republic and abroad, the story of a young man who went to remarkable lengths apparently just to have a good time. He posed as a government official, he forged official documents, all with one purpose in mind: to travel the world at the state's expense. And apparently it worked, at least for a while...

The young man was able to order a jet plane complete with bodyguards for what was supposed to be a visit to Sri Lanka by Jan Kavan, the president of the UN General Assembly. The young con artist was so meticulous, so audacious, no one ever questioned his authenticity when he showed up in the politician's stead, as his personal assistant. And he wasn't alone - he brought several friends! Imagine what they have looked like in the crew's eyes: boarding the plane instead of the expected seasoned official ? We can only guess - the important thing is they swallowed the story - completely. Let us imagine, then, the incredible power trip of taking off, flying to another country, all the while filled with the knowledge one was pulling a great stunt, an unbelievable hoax like some modern day Butch Cassidys or Sundance Kids. Did the pilot suspect? He alone said afterwards the unusual passengers behaved a little unorthodox... On the other hand, I'm sure they got a kick out of pushing their behaviour to the limit, that's the beauty of it.

Of course there are consequences for that kind of thing when the lights come on... Because the plane got turned back, because the young man got found out, could it really have ever ended any other way? Now, he's going to have to save his pocket money for an awfully long time to pay off a bill of several million crowns. And he'll be happy if he doesn't end up going to jail which, admittedly, would seem a little steep. Hard to imagine, even for such an expensive prank, a young person spending a long time in a cell to come out years later a bitter and hardened individual.

So how high can we fly, and how far can we go? Speaking with a psychologist I was told we shouldn't take the whole incident so seriously - after all, there's something understandable about all of it, we all secretly desire to get away with something like that, even if we never come close to trying. In any case we both concluded the person in question was probably resourceful enough to get out of his predicament using the same qualities that got him into it. But we'll see... Hopefully, for his sake, he won't crash land.

Other stories help us reflect on our own - did we all do enough when we were 19? Certainly I never had any intention of pulling any stunts like that: my adventure was more modest. Put simply, I bought my ticket and flew to Prague and consequently nothing ever turned me back. Back from this city of beautiful girls who still wear black eyeliner, look coyly over their milkshake as they discuss Rimbaud or the Beastie Boys, pretending to be actresses. All against the backdrop of a medieval city.

There were many more like me in 1993: all of us sharing bizarre adventures that sometimes criss-crossed. Coming up the escalator one night in the Prague metro I saw that every other step was strewn with clothes - a shirt, shoes, underwear, a cap. And coming down the other side, completely naked, was a fat British man, holding a beer and muttering to himself "I'm in love, I'm in love..." meaning the city or some Prague maiden, or both.