Tales from Suburban Bohemia: New Year 2002
This post originally appeared on Stumpy Moose on 12 January, 2002, and was migrated to PraguePig.com on 21 December, 2018.
The break has done me good.
Christmas was the usual dash around northern England, seeing family and friends, then we headed down to Wales.
We saw in the New Year in a converted cowshed, halfway up a mountain outside Crickhowell in Powys. Our friend Dave Newman, an old Prague compadre, has moved back home, and invited us up for a few days.
Midnight passed in a flurry of champagne and smoked salmon then we spent the rest of our time hanging out in the spectacular Black Mountains.
I was dreading coming back to Prague after Christmas but now that I’m here it doesn’t seem so bad.
I’d left Prague in pretty bad shape. I was stressed out and exhausted and worrying about my health.
I had a medical exam in December so I could get Czech health insurance, and it turned out that I had high blood pressure.
It was a shock, but I suppose it makes sense. I’m overweight, I don’t get a lot of exercise, I eat a lot of salty food, I drink too much and I have a pretty stressful job.
It’s depressing to think of yourself as a fat man with high blood pressure though. When I first moved to Prague, I was officially skinny.
I suppose five years of Czech beer and fried cheese has taken its toll.
But much of life in Prague revolves around going to the pub, where the beer is cheaper than mineral water or Coca-Cola, and most Czech cooking seems to rely on salt and fat for its flavour. It’s not a good city for dieting.
Life isn’t all sobriety and starvation, though – in a lot of ways it’s good to be back.
After my first week at work, I’m feeling surprisingly relaxed – perhaps a bit too relaxed to be doing my job properly right now.
There’s also the intrigue of a new, free fortnightly newspaper, The Prague Pill, which launches in February.
A trial run, “issue zero”, came out while I was away. The design is hideous but the writing’s pretty good.
Hopefully, The Pill will liven up the small but self-important world of English-language publications here.
Everybody’s given up on making Prague a “new Left Bank” for writers and poets, but maybe The Pill will inject a bit of life into an expat scene that seems to be going into terminal decline.
It’s a new year. Anything can happen.