Czech Railways are investigating the case of a runaway express train. The smallest equestrian statue in the country was unveiled in Pelhřimov, and a life-size statue of St. Barbara was found to contain an artillery grenade from World War II. Find out more in Magazine with Daniela Lazarová.
Škoda’s latest model – a sport-utility vehicle named Yeti – was put to the test by a class of Czech students last week. It may be one of Škoda’s smaller models but it accommodated 26 students – not comfortably, one must admit – there were legs behind ears and faces squashed flat against window panes, but the car did take in 26 students. They even stayed in for an entire ten seconds. Of course for people who prefer roomier cars I would advise the Škoda Superb model. Not only does it look superb but last year it proved it could accommodate 31 teenagers – your family can’t be any bigger than that!
Škodas are “simply clever” and if you get tired of them you can always make them disappear with a little bit of spray paint like art student Sarah Watson. The design student from Lancashire made international headlines earlier this year when she made a battered old Škoda “vanish” by painting it to merge with the surrounding car park. It took her three weeks to spray paint the car down to the smallest detail, but the result was worth it – the illusion was near-perfect. In this country Škoda’s also disappear, but with the Czechs being more advanced – we don’t need three weeks. Škoda’s disappear overnight, or before you get back from the shopping mall, and the illusion is even better than that created by Sarah Watson. It’s also more lasting.
Teachers around the country get flowers from their students on the last day of term, but in the town of Pardubice, famed for its delicious gingerbread, things are different. There teachers get gingerbread creations – a basket of fruit, flowers or a message of thanks on a gingerbread slate. The firm producing gingerbread puts out a special line of products to suit every occasion – Valentine’s Day, Easter, Christmas or end of school. It even put out a special line for the Czech EU presidency which was distributed as a gift to visiting EU officials. The firm, which employs thirty people, has a fine collection of awards and prizes from the Magdalena Dobromila Retigova Association of Cooks and Pastry Chefs, the Ambrož Association of Pastry chefs and it has been voted Entrepreneur of the Year. In Pardubice – whatever you are going to say – you say it with gingerbread.
Czech Railways are investigating the case of a runaway express train. The express train was on its way from Budapest to Hamburg when the engine driver reported a problem. Passengers were asked to disembark and were transferred to another train after which the engine driver left his cabin –presumably to investigate the potential cause of the problem. Less than ten minutes after he left the cabin the train started moving – backwards since it was on a slant – and covered 300 meters along the tracks before a conductor still on it pulled the emergency brake. The incident happened on one of the busiest rail routes in the Czech Republic and the engine driver is likely to be charged with endangering public safety.
For some reason or other Czechs have a special affinity for equestrian statues – with hindsight horse-riding seems to have been one of the safest forms of travel – and you will find many of them around the country. Last week the smallest equestrian statue in the country – and very likely in the entire world – was unveiled with pomp and ceremony on Tomáš G. Masaryk Square in Pelhřimov. The statue represents Czechoslovakia’s first president on horseback and is only nine millimeters tall. It was made by artist Lubomír Vaněk in honour of the 15th birthday of the Pelhřimov-based Museum of Czech Records and Curiosities. The statue, which took two months’ work under a strong microscope, is permanently exhibited on the town’s main square – in a glass case on the building of the Pelhřimov town hall – just above the nameplate of the square. It comes with a text in Czech and English and a photograph in which the statue is seen enlarged. It may not surprise you that the biggest equestrian statue in the world was also made by a Czech artist – it is the statue of the fierce one-eyed warrior Jan Žižka that stands on Vítkov Hill in Prague.
Saints are generally a peace-loving lot, but sometimes they can surprise you. It has just come to light that a life-size statue of St. Barbara in the Cyril and Methodius church in Prostějov contained a fully functional artillery grenade. Now St. Barbara is a saint who watches over soldiers in battle and people who are in any kind of danger and an art historian familiar with the church said he had been told the statue contained a precious historic parchment hidden inside an empty cartridge case. However a closer inspection revealed that what was thought to be an empty cartridge case was a fully functional artillery grenade. Explosive experts were called in to deal with the crisis and asked not to detonate the grenade in the usual manner because they would destroy the parchment. An x-ray revealed that the grenade did in fact contain a scroll and experts set about carefully de-fusing it. As expected, the parchment was rolled up inside – written one hundred years ago on paper thought to be 300 years old. It was handed over to historians and is now being analyzed. For some reason or other the priest who is believed to have inserted the document inside the cartridge during or after the war never got rid of the gun-powder.