Wednesday, July 3, 2019
Browsing through the Times online, I read this morning that Prague is the official Hen capital of the world. It’s hardly surprising with alcohol being as cheap as it is. Cut price air travel means that Stag parties get a look-in too and wild weekends seem to be the thing…it is certainly the place to wear that inflatable penis suit you once drunkenly ordered online.
Orchestras thrive here as Prague has in recent years become a popular location for recording, particularly budget-limited orchestral film scores as the players are a lot cheaper here and the standard is high. Most current composers have had good experience here. I have had music recorded here and it’s not always perfect but you can get it done on a shoestring.
Historically, Prague is truly fascinating and it always makes me wonder what other cities across Europe might have looked like if history had taken alternate paths. With many beautiful ancient buildings mostly untouched by heavy conflict, Prague escaped the heaviest damage as Czechoslovakia reluctantly capitulated by way of the Munich agreement/betrayal in 1938 to German occupation. It was subsequently bombed by the Allies, but not as heavily as so many other cities. History teaches us, if we listen, to be very wary of heads of governments that consistently lie. It was Hitler who declared in 1938 that the Sudetenland (the historical German name for the northern, southern, and western areas of former Czechoslovakia) was “the last territorial demand I have to make in Europe”.
Everything changes eventually and with darker days thankfully behind us, hopefully for good, the best word to describe the city nowadays would be ‘relaxed’. It could of course been the heat (today was 36 degrees). Relaxed or engaged would be good words to describe the audience for our Prague show, also, ‘engaged’. It was another wonderfully respectful, rather grown-up, listening crowd that went a bit crazy at the end. Especially when we layed the new tune on them.
My impression of the Czech people based on the few brief encounters with locals, is that they are resourceful, smart, cordial, joyful and very proud. Geographical location combined with racial origins and historical events mean the Czechs have clearly developed unique national characteristics.
It is a privilege, as we were saying last night, Pilsners in hand, to be seeing Europe the way we do. We get to travel luxuriously, too quickly sometimes, we get to meet people. We are on the receiving end of huge emotion when we play. We even enjoy the odd day off and bask in the atmosphere of some of the greatest cities in the world.
After the show, most of the band headed down the road to a place called the Museum of Beer, one of more than 600 bars in Prague. In the sweltering ‘Saharan’ heat we stood outside, sipping our Pilsners, watching groups of what seemed to be quite young kids, a world away from worried parents, waddling Duck-like down the street in ill-fitting shorts, mini skirts and stretchy tank-tops, all here on a mission. Communal experimentation with alcohol. Oh, one thing I have to own up to. After all the fuss in Brussels when the hotel maid took my kettle from the room, I went and left the kettle base at the hotel in Amsterdam. Tell me that isn’t instant Karma.
Guy Fletcher’s full Tour Diary, including photos and more tour diary entries, can be found here.