Milan Baros, photo: CTK

The statue that predicted the fall of the coalition government. A group of disabled people go for adrenalin sports - and football star Milan Baros is to get a statue built in his honour in his home town of Vigantice. Find out more in Magazine with Daniela Lazarova.

Milan Baros, photo: CTK
There's no doubt about it - Milan Baros is the Czech Republic's hero - or "Superstar" as many of the papers are calling him. Baros's name is on everyone's lips and nowhere more so than in his home town of Vigantice in the eastern part of the Czech Republic. These days his picture and the Czech flag are everywhere you look and the town is planning to build a statue in his honour. A huge screen has been set up on the town square where everyone gathers to watch the Czech team's matches, including the mayor and Baros's proud parents. And the town is planning on giving its famous son a huge welcome. "Yes, there are plans in the pipeline, but I can't tell you what" his mother said when reporters begged for any Baros related scraps of information.

Vigantice, photo: CTK
When her son comes home on a short visit he usually asks for a homemade Czech meal - the last one was pea hash with sausages - it's something you just can't get in England, he explained. His best friend from childhood days David Fojtashek says Milan was crazy about football even before he could talk properly, and although he played hokey and the Czech game nohejbal - he always said he would one day be a great football player. He likes to dress well - you won't catch him wearing the same jeans two days in a row, David says - and sorry ladies, he's got a steady girlfriend.

TV crews and newspaper reporters turned up at the Pribram airport last Friday to see a dozen handicapped people fulfil their dream -a tandem parachute jump from 4,000 metres. Lenka Cimermanova was among them and recalls what the experience was like:

"The door first opened at a height of 1,200 metres. That took our breath away but we were still laughing and cracking jokes. But then we got to 4,000 metres and suddenly we were all scared stiff. I could feel my heart in my mouth and there's no way anyone could have got me out that door if I weren't strapped to the instructor. The free fall was terrifying. And then when the parachute opened -and I could see the landscape below me -it was a wonderful feeling. Hard to describe. We really surpassed ourselves and people were clearly impressed. We got lots of emails."

Each of the parachutists got a video tape of the jump - in fact of the whole day's outing including the preparations and celebrations on the ground. For each one of them it will be a reminder of a great achievement to be run and re-run when things are not looking so good. Lenka, whom the cameraman teased about having had her eyes tight shut during half the flight says that her video tape will get a lot of viewers :

"We lend these tapes to handicapped friends, people confined to their room or their bed to show them that life goes on and that we can achieve just as much -or more- than a healthy person if we make the effort. Next year we're going underwater diving and there are also plans to go skiing and mountain climbing. There are lots of applicants but at the end of the day its all about money -how much money we can get to finance these events."

The fall of the coalition government last weekend may have surprised some but certainly not the inhabitants of Prachatice. They claim that they saw it coming all along - ever since the statue of justice - the classic image of a woman with her eyes blindfolded holding a pair of scales - which decorated the town's main square suddenly toppled and broke into three pieces several months ago. Legend has it that when that happens the government will fall within the year. Now time has proved them right - and the town's inhabitants are convinced that there are things between heaven and earth...They even showed reporters the three broken pieces -and there was the evidence- each piece was approximately the size of one of the three parties of the governing coalition...

Charles Bridge
Scientists from ten European countries are reportedly making a "Noah's Arc" list of the most precious European cultural monuments which are under threat from climate change. They include Hadrian's Wall, Trafalgar Square and Charles Bridge, among others. The idea is for scientists to predict climate change in the mentioned locations and take early measures to protect these precious monuments. Among the factors being considered is stone erosion in southern Europe and the devastating floods in and around central Europe. The project is being financed by the European Commission.

Czechs are fervent cell phone users - and send each other more SMS messages than any other nation in Europe. People don't hesitate to spend a fortune on the latest models because their old one is no longer "in". However despite sporting trendy cell phones it seems to be very hard for them to part with their old ones. Elsewhere in Europe parts of old cell phones are recycled and others safely disposed of, but Czechs are hanging on to theirs, keeping more than one active, passing them on to family members, or simply stuffing them in a drawer as a reminder of the time when they got their very first mobile phone. Eurotel, Oscar and T-Mobile say that although they dispose of old models for free they only collect several dozen a year. In the US come companies have started buying up old cell phones over the Internet and there are also charity organizations to which you can hand them over. Since Czechs have shown themselves to be very charitable in the past few years maybe that's the way to go.

The Kladno police force has announced that one of its horses is up for sale. It is in perfect condition and has been well trained - but it has a fault that the police force is no longer willing to overlook - it is extremely mischievous and takes enormous pleasure in throwing officers off its back in public places. "In every other way it is a very mild and well trained animal," the Kladno police chief told the press, "but we can't have the authority of our officers undermined in this way." Apparently neither humouring the horse nor the carrot and stick approach have been any good - and officers are now refusing to ride it. Kladno was one of several Czech towns and cities which introduced horses to the local police force - and the public have rather enjoyed the sight of officers patrolling the streets on horseback. Police chiefs are happy because it brings down the monthly expenses for petrol and car maintenance - but what they failed to realize was that horses may have whims. The horse in question reportedly only throws off riders in police uniform - so if you are interested and not a police officer - you should be quite safe and get a good bargain!