London - St Goer - Prague PDF Print E-mail
Written by Peter Smith   
Sunday, 23 September 2007 00:00
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Day 3: Tuesday 25th Sept 07: Prague

Day two started at the now regular time 7.30am with the most beautiful sunrise. Those from the drinking party who managed to emerge briefly for breakfast very quickly disappeared back to their pits. Ben climbed out of his sack at 5.00pm and missed Prague completely.

After the now typical 10 minute breakfast of cereals, toast and a lukewarm cup of tea we set off into the centre. Parked behind the palace I disembarked in shorts and tee shirt overlooking a sunny skyline. As the coach slipped away back to the campsite the sky turned grey and then black. Within 60 minutes it was pouring down. We spent most of the day in two bars with Gordon, Ted and Mac. We'd been driven into a bar come pizzeria by the weather and had an omelet and the first beer of the day. Had the second in the Café Monmatre (once the haunt of Franz Kafka) and the second, third and fourth in the old communist bar. After a very short look around the wet and cold streets leading from the bar to Wenceslas Square we were forced back to the bar by the cold and my prostate. I did manage to find an internet café and check my mail before surrendering to the weather. It had gone from autumn to summer and then winter all in a day. I was totally unprepared. We had a further beer in the communist bar to wash down a perfectly cooked sirloin stake in a cream and mushroom source accompanied with potato scallops and French beans wrapped in ham. Finely before returning to the tent we retreated to a fancy wine bar and had a couple of palatable bottles of Cabernet Sauvignan from the Morava area. We arrived back at the campsite to find no bus. JonPal had taken it to have the thermostat replaced. Not a good sign after only three days.

All in all, despite the weather we had a very rewarding day. The inclement conditions afforded us the opportunity to get to know more about our three travelling companions. Mac was taking 3 months paid leave from his job as an engineer based in Dublin. He's been doing the job for 15 years and spends most of the time travelling the world installing turbines. He's not touched alcohol for three years but didn't reveal why.

alt; Gordon sleeping his way into Prague Gordon is outgoing and far more revealing than Mac. After gaining a degree and getting his ideal job as the Cultural Director of a theatre in Glasgow he was sacked because he claims he was not up to the job. I admired his honesty.  Glasgow for him was a return to his family roots, his father had left the city, as many Scots did, to work in the steel mills in Corby in Northamptonshire. Later his father was made redundant like thousands in the rolling mills in Sheffield after Thatcher had weaved her spell on the industry but was lucky to find employment with the post office. We agreed we would have a party if she was to die while we're on route in homage to Corby and South Yorkshire and Scotland. The conversation made me think of my song about the effect of Thatcherism on Grimethorpe.


You dug to survive like a mole underground,
risking your life just to keep the bills down
And what spare cash you made well you spent in this town
You were born and brought up in this place


There’s a hole in the ground where the money came from
there’s hole in this town now the old mine has gone
and the shop fronts are bordered from despair and fear
With no chance of work and no signs of the old winding gear

One man knew a decade before,
that the mines would be dead along with king coal
and it's time to stand firm, don’t give into the dole
Remember your sons and your daughters


So you fought like a dog to keep the old ways,
for the nurses the workers and their rights to a say
But the times have little changed as back in old days
Betrayed by all trades and their leaders


And the Grimethorpe band played the miners’ anthem,
as a tribute to halcyon days
Sing follow the horses oh Johnny my laddie
And the miners were forced out to graze

There’s a hole in the ground where the money came from,
remember your past and the things you have done
And don’t ever forget your part in that year
And the name and the faces of those who shut the old winding gear

The third Muskateer, Ted, is much more reserved and less forthcoming than the other two. He's taking three months unpaid leave from his job as a programmer in Dublin and is very quietly spoken making it very difficult for me, with my failing hearing, to follow much of what he said.  But I already like him, his soft Dublin mannerisms embrace a warm sense of sincerity. Here's a person to trust.

Last Updated on Thursday, 27 November 2014 18:13