When I'm cleaning windows...

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Now, do you believe what you read in the papers? Well, if you do, the Czech Republic's ambassador to London has decided to go back to his old job: window cleaning. Ambassador Pavel Seifter was really a window cleaner during his years as a dissident following the invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968, the only job left open to him by the new hard-line regime. His decision, however, has caused confusion in the British media and a certain degree of nervous tension at the Foreign Ministry here in Prague. For more here's Zuzana Smidova:

When the news broke out on Wednesday afternoon here in the Czech Republic, most people thought it was a bad joke. But the Times newspaper reported on that Pavel Seifter, known for his eccentricity, had applied for a part-time job as a window cleaner.

Not surprisingly, the Czech media rang him up. He explained that window cleaning was simply a good way to relax in the summer, and that the British media had misunderstood him. He said he wasn't trying to get a part-time job to earn some extra cash--he only wanted to remind himself about the old days and test his physical strength. At the same time, he said, he could raise money for charity.

But it seems that somehow he forgot to ask his paymasters back in Prague whether this kind of 'relaxation therapy' was OK with them, as the Foreign Ministry seemed rather perplexed. Spokesman Ales Pospisil announced that it was up to the Ambassador to decide what activities were fitting for Czech embassies abroad.

But back in the Czech Republic, the response from the media hasn't been very favourable. Critics say that this is certainly not how a Czech envoy should act abroad. If he feels that he needs to prove at the age of 62 that he's still fit enough to clean windows, then he shouldn't be ambassador in the first place. Pavel Seifter claims that ambassadors doing funny things for charity is nothing unusual in the West. But it seems that neither the Western nor the Czech media got the joke.

Author: Zuzana Šmídová
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