Matěj Lehár, photo: Šíp, 25.1.2008

Don’t eat that – its fifty years old! Czech researchers eat a package of soup that had been sitting around for half a century. “Six fingers are better than five,” says a boy who should know. And, the Wallenstein family clan has a get-together in Prague. Find out more in Magazine with Daniela Lazarova.

Do you look carefully at the expiry date of products when shopping for food? When you are in the Antarctica there’s no need to be so careful. Czech researchers who recently launched a research of the Antarctica, building a polar station on James Ross Island, can pretty much consume what they find. In the process of making geological maps of the area they discovered not only valuable minerals but also a 50-year-old package of soup which they promptly had for lunch. According to the head of the Polar station Miloš Barták – the soup tasted excellent and all members of the team feel quite well. The presence of package soup alongside Jurassic sediments is easily explained – it was left there by members of the British Antarctic Survey which was active in the area in the 1960s.

Matěj Lehár from Pardubice was born with six fingers on his right hand – and far from hiding what many would consider an anomaly – Matěj says his extra finger makes life a lot easier. He’s faster on the computer than his friends, has a firmer grip on things and plays musical instruments with greater ease than five-fingered people. The only problem is that all his gloves have to be tailor-made. The first person to realize that Matěj was born with six fingers – was not his mum or nurses on the maternity ward as you would expect – but his then seven year old brother. I let him hold the baby and suddenly he says “Mum, Matěj has six fingers” says Jaroslava Lehárová thinking back to when she gave birth to her second boy. All the grown up laughed, but when she took a closer look she realized that her new-born really did have six fingers. Doctors say that in itself is not so unusual. What is, is that the extra finger is not only perfectly formed but also fully functional.

Photo: CTK
The town of Turnov is organizing a carnival for twins. It is expected that twins of all ages will attend – from age one to 75 and over. Events for twins are increasingly popular as the number of twins being born has doubled in recent years. Fifteen years ago the ratio was one pair of twins in a hundred births, now it is one in fifty. Twins clubs have sprung up around the country as a sort of support-network for parents and increasingly the clubs are organizing fun and games as well.

Photo: CTK
Love weighed in kilograms – that is how the post office in the town of Milostín describes the tons of Valentine cards and letters that it is now processing – hand stamping each love letter with a special Amor Valentine stamp. This is a special service that the post office offers and despite the fact that its human resources are stretched to the limit at this time of year the tradition has become so popular that the local post mistress says she doesn’t have the heart to end it. Wherever the letters are bound for they go via Milostín first – where they get the Valentine stamp – and then on to the addressee. The Amor stamp should ensure that the relationship will last and the object of your love will stay infatuated with you. Every year the post office prepares a special love stamp and this year it has an ambigram – which is defined as a calligraphic design that manages to squeeze two different readings into the selfsame set of curves. And of course it is a message of love.

Exhibition on Albrecht of Wallenstein and his era,  photo: Štěpánka Budková
This year marks the 425th anniversary of the birth of Albrecht of Wallenstein - a Czech nobleman and the supreme commander of the army of Habsburg Emperor Ferdinand II, which made him one of the most influential figures in Europe during the period of the Thirty Years' War. A number of cultural events and symposia have been held to commemorate the anniversary – the most important of which is an extensive exhibition at the site of the Wallenstein Riding School on the grounds of the Czech Senate. The exhibition offers a new perspective on Wallenstein, including never-before publicly viewed pieces from his period and precious historic artefacts borrowed from museums and private collectors across Europe. The exhibition has proved an enormous success and has had to be extended due to enormous interest. But there is no doubt at all for the organizers the highlight of the entire exhibition was last Wednesday when the entire Wallenstein family clan – 40 of Abrecht of Wallenstein’s descendents from two different family branches – has a reunion in Prague and visited the exhibition together, posing for a family photo in one of the gallery halls. Most of them came over from Austria and Germany and are said to have been delighted not only with the exhibition but to see the entire Wallenstein clan under one roof again.

Mirek Topolánek  (in the middle),  photo: CTK
Prime Minister Mirek Topolánek was in hot water this week after journalists caught him speeding in order to get to a Fed Cup tennis match on time. The prime minister, who has a passion for fast driving, was not behind the wheel at the time but he admitted that his driver had crossed the speed limit as he whisked him from Prague to Brno for the match. Mr. Topolánek offered a half-hearted apology for speeding but appeared unrepentant telling journalists that as the prime minister he had the right to break the speed limit whenever he liked adding that he could have chosen to go by helicopter but had not deemed it necessary. “It was perfectly safe,” Mr. Topolánek told journalists “I have experienced drivers and the roads were empty, there was no risk whatsoever.” Opposition leader Jiři Paroubek might have been in a position to throw stones had he not been caught speeding himself on his way to his wedding a few weeks ago. Only Paroubek refused to get into a debate with the media over the incident, saying he had been fast asleep and knew nothing about it. Nobody reminded the prime minister of how furious he was with then police chief Vladislav Husák in 2006 when he too was caught speeding on his way to work, telling him he deserved not penalty points but the death penalty.