In Magazine: the Ship of Fools passes through Prague, the world champ in pull-ups is Czech, breweries are preparing a number of special brews for the Christmas market, meet Ivan, Vasil, Sergei, Igor and Boris, five Russian veterans on the road and Czech pensioners pose for an action-packed calendar.
The most colourful event of the celebrations marking 26 years since the Velvet Revolution was an allegorical procession which wound its way through the Prague city centre. Named The Ship of Fools, after an allegory by the humanist Sebastian Brant, and a painting of the same name by Hieronymus Bosch, the event aimed to serve as a counterpoint to the rallies and demonstrations taking place. “We wanted to reflect developments, but with a lighter touch and more humour, the organizer of the parade Olga Cieslarová explained. On board the ship of fools were Czech and world leaders – President Miloš Zeman hugging the Little Mole, a popular bedtime story character that he appeared on television with in China, Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka with the arms of an octopus wound around him – the octopus wearing the mask of the multi-millionaire business mogul, finance minister Andrej Babiš and Russian President Vladimir Putin flanked by an army of paper tanks, among others.
Jan Kareš, photo: archive Jan Kareš
Doing pull-ups is hard work, but you wouldn’t say so watching Jan Kareš do endless repeats. Kareš is the world champion is pull ups, with four world records under his belt. He can do 232 pull-ups without taking a break, 3,450 in the space of six hours, 4910 in the space of twelve hours and an unbelievable 6,800 in twenty-four hours, or rather 22.5 hours as he says, explaining that after that he felt he’d done enough already. He first started doing pull-ups as a 15-year-old boy with a stutter in order to gain some self-confidence and soon he was hooked. He says that once you get the technique right it is just a matter of perseverance and discipline. Today he owns a gym and has no shortage of well-off clients whom he puts through their paces for a hefty fee.
Illustrative photo: Eva Odstrčilová
South Bohemian breweries are pulling out all the stops with a number of special brews for the Christmas market. Budvar is putting a limited sour cherry brew on the market, the Dudák brewery is advertising a forest honey special while the Lobkowicz brewery has prepared the most adventurous brand called Devil’s Special. According to its brewers the Devil’s brew has a devilish red colour, an angelic cap of rich foam and a bitter aftertaste. The Devil’s Special should be available in pubs around the country for Christmas.
Many Czechs are collectors of curiosities but few choose outsize objects for their hobby. Libor Švejda was crazy about tractors since childhood and always dreamed of owning a Russian Kirovec K-700. His wife Šárka bought one for him when the opportunity arose and since then they have acquired four more – creating a tractor park that takes up most of their garden. Their babies, which weigh over 12 tons each are three and a half metres tall and seven and a half meters wide, and all have Russian names: Ivan, Vasil, Sergei, Igor and Boris. “When I tell my husband to bring out Boris for a ride, he knows immediately which one I mean,”Šárka says. She’s not joking. The tractors are all roadworthy, travel at 40 km per hour and the family really use them for outings. “Three people can fit into the cabin but it’s a bit of a squeeze and you have to count on a lot of noise, there’s no room for conversation,”Šárka says. Even so people stop and stare on the road and some even beg a ride, which has given the Švejdas the idea of setting up a tractor museum in due time and even offering people rides. They are already looking for additions to their collection and claim that there is nothing quite like a Kirovec tractor. “They need very little technical maintenance, they can stand a lot and are likely to outlive us,” Libor says.
Photo: archive of MSSS Most
Pensioners from an old people’s home in the town of Most have made headlines by posing for an action-packed calendar to show that they are not ready to pack it in yet. The oldest participant is a hundred years old and they are shown winning a marathon, dressed in cowboy gear and riding a motorbike sporting a helmet with horns. The calendar is due to appear on the market in time for Christmas.