The book slides off the shelf, self-effacing, second hand. It’s bought and opened on the underground, and in the cliché so often employed to describe the magic of great fiction, it transported me to another world, or, in the case of Invisible Cities, infinite possible worlds.
Fresh off the tram and the boulevard of Vršovická intersects a flat and unpromising quarter, on the boundary of middle-class comfort and working-class expediency, between elegant apartments and the ubiquitous panelák (the kind of tower block seen in the background of any respectable Cold War thriller). It is winter in Prague. Orders coming from Moscow are a thing of the past, but my blueing lips tell me the November wind still makes the trip, and I’m growing self-conscious about the din of my dental castanets. My guide is late.
Prudence trumps fashion here, and padded coat after weathered fleece after dubious fur cap pass by. Young, old, male, female, sober, stumbling and everything in between are making their way excitably toward an antique loudspeaker’s call. Continue reading “Bohemians Rhapsody – a celebration of Czech football.”
Cliché is as ubiquitous as the weather in certain cities. Through a process of continual self-portraiture by the curators of cliché (those lacking in particular faculties of imagination), a repetition amounting to the erosion of originality, they shape for us the inexorable stasis of the lauded, and lamented, locale. Attempt a retreat into the landscape of the Lake District and one is found bound and gagged by the forces of Wordsworth, or venture to look upon the Liffey without Mr Bloom ambling into view. It is possible the inverse is true, that cliché is the progeny of the city, that perhaps the inanimate is the founder of this dynasty of, well, the inanimate. Whatever the causal beginnings, we are nevertheless ruled by it. Amid the spires of Prague, it is Kafka who reigns, he who waits in ambush, he in a dozen cafes and museums and sparrow-faced in advertisement.