Magazine

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Fighting over a roof that's in no man's land. Why do so many young Czechs over twenty live with mum and dad. And, the risks of using a portable toilet in freezing temperatures. Find out more in Magazine with Daniela Lazarova.

Foreign visitors to the Czech Republic are often surprised by the number of young Czechs who are still living with their parents, despite the fact that they make their own living. Statistics suggest that a full 82 percent of Czechs aged between 18 and 24 still live with mum and dad. / In France it is 61 percent, in Germany 46 and in Sweden 39 percent/ Lack of affordable housing is only part of the reason. Rents and household bills are high and many young Czechs who start work find they simply can't swing it. There are others who could - but who are simply too comfortable with having their dinner cooked by Mum, their washing taken care of and no bills to pay. "My parents refuse to accept a share of the rent from me, and they don't interfere with my private life, so there's no reason for me to move until I need more space or start a family" says twenty six year old Honza. In the Czech Republic it is perfectly common for two or three generations to live under one roof and parents usually try to keep their kids from leaving the nest for as long as possible. Few ask their offspring to help pay the bills, advising them to keep their money for when they really need it -or simply to have some fun and enjoy themselves while they are young.


The STEM polling agency recently asked Czechs to say what they were most proud of and what they were most ashamed of in relation to their country. The results suggest that Czechs are proud of their sportsmen and women, of their history, literature and music. They are ashamed of their politicians and the crime rate. With elections coming up in June -politicians should take note of that.


A young man was skating on the Vltava river last week when the ice suddenly cracked under him and he was plunged into the freezing water. Although a group of his friends watched from the bank none made any move to help him. Jan Stejskal wasn't expecting any help. He'd skated onto thin ice intentionally with the aim of falling in, in order to demonstrate how to get out safely. This was in order to promote a book -of which he was co-author - about where to skate in the Czech Republic and how to stay safe. "It was reckless and stupid" -according to the head of a fire brigade who are called out to such cases. "This kind of fall is extremely dangerous if you are swept under the ice and can't come up for air. One can also get a heart attack in the cold water, not to mention pneumonia." Unlike the old days when the Vltava would freeze over completely - and enable even horse drawn carriages to cross it - now the river only freezes along the banks and that only during exceptionally cold spells. Right now we are in the middle of one - and although you can see skaters on the Vltava every day there have been no reports of anyone falling in.


Most Czechs find the freezing temperatures hard to cope with but when you are in love things can get hot! A young couple in the town of Kladno got so carried away they had sex on the street right outside someone's door. "There was a lot of kicking and noise going on outside and it seemed like someone was banging on the door repeatedly so I rushed over and there they were" the owner of the house explained after calling the police. The hot bloodied young couple were fined 1,000 crowns and advised to find "someplace more private". "These things sometime happen during the summer - but I've never seen it happen in the middle of winter" one of the officers said later.


A Czech truck driver got stuck in a portable toilet for more than an hour after the door iced over as temperatures in Germany plummeted to minus 20 degrees Celsius. Petr Zeman had stopped for a short break at a service station while driving through Lichtenau when the incident happened. "I thought I was going to die in there it was so cold. I kept shouting for help but nobody heard me" the driver said later. He was eventually saved by another man who wanted to use the toilet and managed to prise open the door. It is not clear whether the rescuer had the courage to use the toilet himself.


The owner of an Austrian hotel has been ordered to bring down part of his roof because it overhangs into the neighbouring Czech Republic! The owner Dietmar Hehenberger has been alerted to the fact he is in big trouble: when it rains, water from the hotel roof falls onto Czech territory violating an international agreement which requires a one metre wide vacant belt on both sides of the border. Both Czech and Austrian officials want the hotel owner to remove part of the roof and thereby solve the problem but he is, understandably, reluctant to do so. He says he installed solar panels in the roof and their re-location would cost him thousands of crowns. Mr. Hehenberger blames the Austrian building authorities for approving his plans in the first place and is now set to defend his roof in court.


Karel Kryl
The relatives of Karel Kryl, the late dissident singer and songwriter, are furious about the fact that some of his songs have now appeared on Vlast an internet radio station of the ultra-right National Party. "It is totally absurd that my brother's songs should serve this cause" Kryl's brother Jan complained to journalists. It is not just the National Party that's taken a liking to Kryl's music, some time ago the communist party's radio station Helo Futura, played some of Kryl's songs as well. When Kryl's outraged relatives protested, the station promised not to play anything more of his in the future. Karel Kryl's songs have come to symbolize the dissent and the fight against totalitarian oppression.