In the Czech Republic, calendar girls rule. Literally.
Firstly, let’s get it out of the way ‘Joyeux jour de la Bastille‘. As I believe I have touched on before – this time last year – the French revolution has long been a source of fascination for your correspondent. Rather like the Sarkozy/Bruni Presidency, it began with high hopes: “Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive, but to be young was very heaven” wrote an optimistic William Wordsworth, who was actually in revolutionary France at the very time the paysans (peasants) were revolting. Of course, that blissful dawn had soon turned into the Reign of Terror, quicker than the Gallic voting public of today’s disenchantment with a supermodel wife. Poor little Nicolas Sarkozy, he can’t seem to get anything right these days. Take today’s Bastille Day parade. This was an attempt apparently to acknowledge France’s colonial past, thus troops from 13 former African colonies paraded up and down the Champs-Élysées. Many commentators see this as a celebration of a past the French should, in general, be mightily ashamed of. Nonetheless, an all female unit of soldiers from Benin led the parade, followed by troops from Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Congo, Gabon, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Central African Republic, Senegal, Chad and Togo and the Ivory Coast. More criticism followed due to the fact that, well, Niger for example is not exactly an exemplary democracy.
A little bit closer to my home in Budapest, and I submit for your attention, Kristyna Koci, Chief Negotiator for the Czech Republic’s ruling political party, the Public Affairs party.
I kid you not. The photograph is taken from a just released 2011 calendar put out by the Czech Public Affairs party. Certainly it’ll be in the stores well in time for Christmas, (which the Czechs don’t particularly believe in, a majority registering themselves as atheist in census polls – whatever you may have heard about Good King Wenceslas on the feast of Stephen.) “Women’s political influence is growing. Why not show we are women who aren’t afraid of being sexy?” said Marketa Reedova, the party’s candidate for Mayor of Prague.
Following on from my last post, it must seem like the Jet-Set Hobo has sex on the brain. Well hey, no more than usual. It’s not like I’m inventing this stuff, it is just what flits across my radar. Anyway, it might be too sweeping a generalisation to say the women of Central and European Europe are, how shall we say, tres formidable, but there you go. One would have to be blind or deliberately obtuse not to notice how many drop dead gorgeous women there are in places like Prague, Budapest, Kiev, Warsaw and so on. But as traditionally feminine as they may be in their dress and often rather demure manner, don’t let that fool you. It seems to me – and please accept that these are broad sweeping generalisations – that women fared better than men during both communism and in its aftermath. While so many of the menfolk are still today sitting in darkened rooms drinking vodka in front of the TV and watching reruns of Starsky and Hutch, Eastern European gals are out there wrestling the bear of life with all they’ve got, and winning. If there’s a lesson or moral to be drawn from this, I’m not quite sure what it is. But here on the ground, it’s certainly hard to ignore.