I am very aware that in July and August, I only managed to publish three posts here on my blog. And I also note that today, half of September will have passed without anything being published either. My two excuses are the very hot weather that we experienced during nearly all of both summer months, together with my hospitalisation at the beginning of August and having to attend umpteen subsequent medical appointments.
This post is the beginning of my attempt to start writing and publishing regularly once again. I hope my readers will forgive its slightly more frivolous nature – I do also have planned some more serious subjects to blog about in due course.
‘Only in the Czech Republic’, is the usual comment Sybille and I make, when we see something that is so typically Czech, yet would cause shock and surprise in most other cultures. The sights I describe in this post, all fall into this category and were all observed during the recent very hot and sticky weather in August.
One Saturday morning, we made our regular weekly visit to the Farmer’s Market at Vítezné námestí. Because of the exceptionally hot weather, the Prague 6 authorities, as well as providing a water supply to the stalls needing one, had also set up a rotating fountain on the grassy area behind the stalls. That Saturday morning, there were numerous children ranging in age from approximately three to nine, thoroughly enjoying themselves by running in and out of the water being sprayed. And they were all, without exception, not wearing a single item of clothing. Judging by their skin colour and lack of tan lines, it is what they had been doing all summer.
Their parents were, no doubt, amongst those adults sitting under the nearby trees. But there were no irrational fears of paedophiles taking photographs or abducting a child. Children were being allowed to be children – totally unselfconsciously enjoying themselves.
I have frequently commented in this blog and in conversation, on how well so many Czech women hold their age. When seeing three generations out together, with the new mother pushing the buggy/stroller and her mother alongside, it is frequently difficult to believe that there is actually a generation between the two ladies.
However, on that same Saturday morning at the Farmer’s Market, there was a lady who I’m convinced was, like me, the wrong side of sixty. Yet she was wearing a sun dress held up by two straps no wider than shoes laces, revealing bare arms and shoulders and with a hemline that finished somewhere above mid-thigh. Whilst the weather was very hot and sticky, it still was an ‘only in the Czech Republic’ sight.
One very positive aspect of the Czech relaxed attitude to the human body, is that women can freely breastfeed, without anyone batting an eyelid. One evening during August, Sybille and I were sitting in the beer garden of Bar-Restaurace U Pramene, when two couples came in and sat at a nearby table. One couple, without children, sat on one side, whilst the other couple with a young child and a baby, sat on the other side.
As all the adults were enjoying their beers and the young child her soft drink, the baby started making a noise. So the mother just unbuttoned the top of her dress, got her breast out, lifted the baby from its buggy/stroller, and began to breastfeed him/her. But whilst doing so, she also happily continued drinking her beer! A most interesting way to give the baby an introduction to what Czech people call tekutý chléb / liquid bread 🙂
As I wrote in my most famous blog post, ‘How to be Czech in 10 easy steps‘ under point three, one aspect of ‘dressing Czech’ for ladies, is showing a rather large amount of cleavage. As I wrote there, this is look not just reserved for a romantic evening with your husband or boyfriend, but can often be seen being worn in situations which can seem a little inappropriate.
Our host Ceskobratrská církve evangelické / Evangelical Church of Czech Brethren congregation at Kostel sv Klimenta / St Clement’s Church, have a practice of a leading lay person, (I presume, an elected elder), being up front with the Pastor, helping to lead worship each Sunday. At the end of their service, this person always stands with the Pastor at the back of the Church, shaking hands and talking to the congregation as they leave. It is while this is happening that I, along with my helpers, slip into the building to start setting up for our service.
On the last Sunday in August, the lay leader was a lady, probably in her mid forties. She was wearing a summer dress which was quite long by normal Czech standards, the hemline finishing a little below her knees. But in total contrast, the neckline of her dress plunged at the centre, displaying a considerable amount of cleavage! Nice to wear when sunning oneself on the banks of the Vltava, but up front in Church, helping lead worship? Only in the Czech Republic!