The Guardian's Julie Burchill has visited Prague. Advance warning: she has a reputation, assiduously self-culitvated, of being "controversial" and "out-spoken" on lots of different subjects. I do enjoy her blather most of the time, but I never realized that she was just plain nuts.
As I say, she visited Prague, apparently on a paid junket to stay in expensive hotels and eat in the best restaurants and thereby have an authentic Prague experience. As I read this, I kept thinking "which Prague did you visit, sweetie?"
To start, she opines
Prague in the 21st century seems no more prey than any other great city to sex tourism, galumphing Germans, loonies out on licence or American trust-fund BoBos (Bourgeois Bohemians).
She forgot that other group. I mean those fat, loud, crude, farting, cruising, brawling menaces that are her country's most famous (oh, yes) exports: the British stag partier. Those of us who live here are acquainted with the fact that on a given evening during tourist season half the violent incidents in the Old Town involve Britons. Given that the sex trade is about the only growth industry around at the moment, the sex tourism comment leaves me blank, as well.
I think there's a Prague, Idaho. Maybe that's where she was?
Another time she sits in the restaurant across from the Orloj and coos about sipping slivovice while never mentioning the prices. This is when we realize she's on a freebie. Honey, nobody but deluded tourists allow themselves to get ripped off at the establishments on Old Town Square.
Then, in a strange detour she calls Vaclav Havel a "bimbo" and a "phony" and "pompadoured poltroon." What the ... ? All right, sunshine. I can deal with your tourist induced hallucinations about Prague. But you go this far off road you better come ready to fight. Set aside a weekend and read something about Havel before you open your mouth. Like this. Warning: Lots of big words.
Rattling off a series of indicators showing that Czechs are a happy, contented lot, she puts unemployment at 3%. She needs to add ten to that. I don't think she drank anything but absinthe during her entire visit.
But all that's before the even stranger advent of a long passage of puffery that sounds like it was written by the Czech tourist authority. Phewwwwww...
- Prague is a great place to sit and watch the world go by!
- The architecture is so undamaged, so intact. The communists invested 10 million pounds in Old Town square renovations.
I'm sorry. I have to stop here for a minute. She thinks the current state of the facades on Staromak predate the revolution!! Jesus. Ask any Czech how well the fucking communists took care of the "architecture" during their 40 years of stinking up the place. Un-fucking-believable. (Sorry for the excessive reliance on French.) Most tourists wander around making noises about the architecture while looking at the facades only, plus they wouldn't know a Baroque from a cubist if it fell on them. There's a whole lot more behind the front skin of an old, listed building, Julie dear, that the communists whom you admire so much didn't give a monkey's about. And if you'd bothered to stray outside the center square half mile of the city you'd see that the facades everywhere else still look distinctly "pre-1989." I.e. they appear to have last been painted when they were built, and ever since then have been decorated by a joint work force of rain, mud, pigeons and exhaust from car engines.
- The (Orloj) clock is so old - 15th century! (That's older than my wristwatch, but isn't the current clock actually a rebuilt version?)
- Just sit and stare at the buildings or stare at the Czechs - they won't mind! They'll just go their own sweet way.
- You've never seen so many beautiful girls IN YOUR LIFE! (She got one thing right.)
- I just have to copy and paste this:
They are in a way the Acceptable French: really brave and not just proud, worldly (only 20% believe in God!), civilised and sexy (there are 30 different words describing all the states of mind in which the basic sex act can be performed).
(I respect all my Czech friends - and do not for a moment believe they would take being compared to the French lying down, even favorably. What a bass insult to mention them in the same breath.)
- Designer Prague has all but driven the scuzz-merchants out. (Is she referring to New Prague, Minnesota, perhaps?)
- It's got TGI Friday's! (No comment.)
Which is a fitting place at which to finish this unintentionally long-winded rant. It's too hot even to think much these days. Good night.