Archive for May, 2004

Welcome to the EU

Ahoj Everyone

Well, our admission to the EU went off without much ado.

Of course we all had a big party and got very drunk on Friday, but other than that, everything seems very much the same as it was last week, although on the downside, a lot of prices seemed to have increased by about 5% or so.

The fireworks on Friday night were absolutely fabulous (thanks very much, Trevor and other existing EU Taxpayers!)

I am still a bit worried about the quality of my Czech language instruction. For example, the other day I was (as I am apt to do just at the moment) happily singing along to some Moravian folk music. My Czech friend remarked that I was doing remarkably well singing along to something I couldn’t understand.

I was a little offended by this, and pointed out that I could understand most of it just fine, and proceeded to prove my point by translating large chunks of the next song into English for her – while simultaneously singing along to the rest.

The response I got to this was was eye rolling (an expression I am becoming increasingly familiar with – especially in relation to my bungled attempts to speak Czech:) and a query as to why I can understand archaic 17th Century Moravian folk lyrics perfectly, but often have no idea what the woman at the corner grocery shop is talking about?

I suspect that this might be the “country bumpkin” factor at work again, and that the reason I can’t understand the woman at the shop is that she’s speaking 21st Century Czech – which would seem to be a completely different language than the one I’m learning :)

I’ve also noticed that (oddly?) I seem to understand Slovakian TV quite well . . . ?

Clearly, the next logical step in my language learning program would be to move to Moravia, where at least I speak the same language as everyone else (and possibly to see if I can find I time machine as well).

I watched “From Russia with Love” on DVD the other night. As you may recall this is the film where James Bond is involved in a three way battle between the British (who speak English on the film) the Russians (who not not surprisingly, speak Russian) and S.M.E.R.S.H (very nasty baddies – including, if you remember, the short, ugly, female KGB Colonel with a poison knife in her shoe). Interestingly everyone in S.M.E.R.S.H spoke in Czech. Actually, I understood it, so it probably wasn’t Czech. It must have been 17th Century Moravian – the language of choice for evil bad guys :)

Life is very pleasant here. We are into spring with a vengeance. Temperatures are now consistently in the mid 20’s. I just love the weather here – the main positive being the fact that it almost never rains! So anyway we’re back to the beer garden, walks in the nature, and roller-blading a lot.

I’m going to Austria roller blading along the Danube with some friends soon, and am looking forward to my marathon expedition where we will rollerblade across the whole of Switzerland.

Tonight I have just come back from watching the Czech Republic thrash Canada at Ice Hockey. It really is a little insane here at the moment with the world championships on. We had to book a table in a pub so we could get near a screen, and the nearest pub we could find with a table was in the basement of a panelak in Skalka. For non-Pragers, this is roughly the equivalent of living in London/Auckland, but going to watch a cricket test being played at Lords/Eden Park on TV in a dodgy pub in Reading/Puhoi.

That, and the power failed three times during the course of the game :). What’s nice is the enthusiasm of everyone here for the game. New Zealand with a population of 4 million people is obsessed by Rugby, and from time to time plays quite well against other countries who are much bigger, but less interested in the sport. The Czech Republic has a population of 10 million and beats the pants off other countries who are much bigger and also totally obsessed with the sport (Russia, Canada, USA etc). People are quite rightly very very excited just now.

Tomorrow will be a wonderful day as we have stadium seats and were going to see a few games live (whoop whoop!)

I’m still being incredibly indecisive about July. I’m vacillating between all sorts of different alternatives for summer; work, have a holiday, go to Kosovo, get a proper job, buy a business, start a business, etc etc etc.

So anyway, that’s all from me.

I’m still alive, not bored yet, and having a very nice time.

Cau

James

PS: Old St James people might enjoy the attached photo. The rest of you, (who are now wondering when I was canonised) probably won’t – but it does have me in it.

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