Although I had lived in my native England for thirty uninterrupted years before moving to Prague, Czech Republic six months ago, this is not my first experience of living outside my country of birth. At the tender age of 18, I left home and family, and emigrated to Australia where I lived for nearly five years. And in my mid-twenties, I spent three years living in a strongly Welsh speaking area of West Wales which is more ‘abroad’ than many English people realise unless they’ve had the same experience.
However, as I reflect on these last six months of living as an English expat in Prague, I feel I have returned to many aspects of the way I use to live during the first 18 years of my life. These were spent in Coventry, my place . . . → Read More: Living as an Expat Englishman in Prague
A friendly smiley from the Czech police
In October 2008, just about a month after we had arrived in Prague, I walked past my car, parked outside our block of flats one day, to discover I had parking ticket under the windscreen wipers. This came as a complete surprise as I had assumed that it was perfectly in order to park on the access road to the flats, as many others also did. When I told my Churchwardens and Church Council members, they too were surprised as this had never happened previously.
A few days later, I went with Gerry, a Czech speaking member of the Church Council, to the local police station shown on the parking ticket. I donned clerical shirt and collar, hoping to appear the innocent foreign clergyman. According to the young police officer that we met, it is an offence under local bye-laws, to . . . → Read More: A Parking Ticket with a difference!
Twenty years ago this year, communism came to an end in the Czech Republic following the so-called ‘Velvet Revolution’ of November 1989. In 1999, this former member of the Soviet Warsaw Pact became a member of NATO, and in 2004, a member of the EU. Yet although so many things have changed massively over the past twenty years, one thing seems to have remained completely unchanged in the Czech Republic – Czech bureaucracy.
This is something that cannot be blamed on over forty years of communist government. Apparently, it goes back much further to when this country was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Although the empire was dissolved in 1918 at the end of the First World War, it’s legacy lives on in the present-day Czech Republic over ninety years later.
One of the founding principles of the EU is the . . . → Read More: Dealing with Czech bureaucracy
“England and America are two countries divided by their common language”. According to The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations, this famous saying is attributed in this and other forms, to George Bernard Shaw, but not found in any of his published writings. I have also heard of it being attributed to Oscar Wilde. It may well be a corruption of the following lines from a short story written by him entitled The Canterville Ghost. “We really have everything in common with America nowadays except, of course, language”. However, regardless of its origins, it does highlight the fact that there are differences in words, phrases and spelling, between American and British English.
image source wikimedia commons
Having many Americans in my congregation, I try to be careful with the words I use when preaching. I try not to say ‘fortnight’ but to say instead, ‘two weeks’. To remember that . . . → Read More: Divided by their common language?
‘The Prague Post’ is a well established English-language weekly newspaper here in Prague. Since 2007, it has sponsored an annual playwriting competition for English writers currently or previously resident in Prague. From all the entries, the three best thirty minute plays are selected by a panel of judges for actual production. After several weeks of rehearsal, all three are then performed, on four different nights, spread over a two week period.
Sybille & I, together with Karen, an American ex-pat from the congregation, went to see the third of the performances on the evening of Sunday 1st March. Part of the attraction of going was that one of the plays, entitled ‘Early Retirement’, was being directed by Gordon Truefitt, a member of my congregation, and one of the three actors in the play was Gerry Turner, my Church Council Secretary.
‘Early Retirement’ was the first . . . → Read More: How to improve your spoken English?