Czechs can now download music legally - but what are the chances of people paying for music when they can get it for free? The price of losing a bet - Czech politicians know all about it. And, the Czech invention that preceded the plastic bag. Find out more in Magazine with Daniela Lazarova.
The Senate and local elections have had some belated repercussions - several politicians made very unwise bets about the outcome and have now had to pay up. The deputy chairman of the Social Democratic Party Zdenek Skromach bet his moustache that the Social Democrats would not win the mayor's seat in Brno and - lost the bet. The Social Democrat mayor, Roman Onderka, himself set about shaving it off - while photographers and TV crews had a field day. After 33 years with a moustache Mr. Skromach clearly had a problem relating to his face in the mirror. Such outrageous bets are not unusual among Czech politicians- Communist Party deputy Milena Vostra also lost a bet on the elections and had to delivery the post all day to people in her constituency.
Czechs are well known fans of plastic bags- they are practical, light and fit into your pocket when they are not needed. But you may not know that what preceded the plastic bag was a Czech invention - the so-called "net-bag" or "string-bag". The net bag performed the very same function for decades before the plastic bag appeared on the market. It first made its appearance in the town of Zdar nad Sazavou in the late 1920s where a local businessman Vavrin Krcil had a good business going making nets for elaborate hairdo's. One day he decided to add two handles - and the net-bag was created. For close to half a century people used the net-bag on a daily basis - every family had several of them and they were used mainly for shopping - but also for transporting whatever was needed - vegetables from the garden or a live carp from the market at Xmas time. It was the symbol of the communist days, but it also spread to other countries in Europe, including Western Europe. When plastic bags appeared the production of net-bags stopped and Czechs have never looked back.
The number of British tourists to Prague has doubled to more than 650,000 since 2002 and not all of them are giving their home country a good name in the Czech Republic. Stag parties which head for Prague on low cost airlines looking for a good time are often drunk and rowdy and an easy target for pick-pockets. Tired of dealing with complaints and being woken up in the middle of the night by disoriented tourists who have forgotten what hotel they are staying in, the British embassy has now launched a campaign appealing for more common sense and less excess. "Come and have fun but be responsible" is the gist of the message which will appear on billboards and beer mats around Prague. The initiative is part of a wider campaign targeting 26 countries where her majesty's citizens have a history of being accident prone or a reputation as boorish tourists.