Ticket inspectors may soon have to wear uniforms - but how will they ever manage to catch anyone out? Transport minister Milan Simonovsky does a bit of acting on the side, starring in a new road safety video. And who'll be watching birds this weekend? Find out more in this week's edition of Magazine with Daniela Lazarova.
Ticket inspectors in the Czech Republic may soon have to wear uniforms. According to the tabloid Blesk, City Transport Management has ordered blue uniforms for inspectors working on the metro and Prague buses. The decision was allegedly inspired by complaints from the public who claim that inspectors are very badly dressed. Of course, inspectors are outraged not just over the insult, but because they claim it is a clever ruse - if they wear uniforms then black passengers will easily give them a wide berth. And they are paid by the number of fines they give. The city transport management has decided on a compromise saying it will have tasteful new uniforms made, dark blue without any kind of badge or inscription so that inspectors can melt into the crowd and yet be well-dressed. The first blue uniforms should appear on the metro in April - so lookout for them!
A sports car zooms down the road. Suddenly it breaks sharply and a figure in a sports outfit wearing a helmet gets out from behind the wheel. Slowly he removes the helmet and viewers stare in amazement - the man is none other that transport minister Milan Simonovsky. The new road safety video "starring the transport minister" has people cracking jokes, but the production team hopes that the attention it has generated will also help reduce the number of accidents on Czech roads. In the video the minister points out all the potential dangers on the road and the most frequent cause of accidents such as ignoring warning lights at rail crossings. The minister himself plays down his role in the project - I'm no more than an enthusiastic amateur - he told journalists. The video is to be distributed along with new drivers' licenses.
No work and no justice for the Roma is the message that comes across very strongly in this musical composed and performed by Romanies. If you'd like a glimpse and a listen you will find it on the internet at www.radiorota.cz.
Czechs are becoming increasingly fashion-conscious and many people have allegedly stopped going to second hand shops in search of a bargain. This is confirmed not only by surveys among the public but mainly by the owners of second hand shops which mushroomed after the fall of communism and which are now having to close down because of poor sales. Our sales have dropped to 40% of what they were in the early 90s, one salesman complained. Those that are hanging on often import clothes from neighbouring Germany where people discard clothes faster and make the most of the fact that an actress of singer drops in to find something special.
Mrs. Marie Berankova held a big party in her home town of Budkov last week - a party that even the mayor attended. She was celebrating her 107th birthday and is believed to be the oldest person living in the Czech Republic.
She celebrated in bed - but she is reported to have been fairly sprightly until recently, working in the field at age 95. It was only when she neared the 100 mark that she complained it was all getting a bit too much for her, milking the cows and doing the farm work....Granny Marie who was married to a shoemaker and worked on a farm all her life now leads a life of leisure but she says that keeping active is one of the secrets of longevity. She outlived two of her three children and is now being looked after by her grand children. Her parents would have been very surprised to learn - on the day that they had a bouncing baby girl in January of 1897- that she would still be around celebrating the arrival of the New Year in 2004!
Anyone can join in but - they must dress the part - white shirt, tie, rubber stamp and a ledger under their arm. There was a minor hurdle - this little farce had be approved by the city hall authorities - who are bureaucrats themselves.
Luckily, they have a sense of humour and said : why not - go ahead - we'll make sure we are well represented. Its an event that that the papers are already writing about - although it will take place sometime in October......So if you are in Prague at the time come and see what a real, honest-to-God, Czech bureaucrat looks like.