Once Works Well was pure technology. Now it seeks merely to divert.
Pansy subjects - Verse! Opera! Domestic trivia! - are now commonplace.
The 300-word limit for posts is retained. The ego is enlarged

Thursday, 9 September 2010

Text, with added value

Unlike Rick who came to Casablanca for the waters (Police Chief: But there are no waters here. Rick: I was misinformed.) the BBs came to Prague to hear/see opera and were not misinformed. Good music at half London prices. The initial target of four had to be cut down to Figaro (fine ensemble in small Estates Theatre with limited onstage resources) and Magic Flute (State Opera House; directorial flaws; first-rate Papageno and Pamina). A marionette version of Don Giovanni was avoided, possibly due to prejudice.

In the daytime we were guided electro-magnetically by Julia who enhanced her Prague Polymath status. Discouraged by Sunday crowds at the Castle we accepted her default and stared tranquilly at the handwritten conductor’s score of Beethoven Five in nearby Lobkowski Palace. The following day, as a further antidote to excess humanity, a text (Julia texts as naturally as breathing, but much more quickly) directed us to an all-embracing cliff-top view of the Vltava and an adjacent cemetery containing Dvorak, Smetana, Capek and Neruda.

Tomorrow again, as we stood bemused by a string of cubist Picassos at the National Gallery another text arrived at midday suggesting we lunch at the Bohemian Bagel “just across the road”.

Text-Julia is witty, sympathetic and ever on tap. Real-life, three-dimensional Julia offers fiercely fast conversation driven by enthusiasm over a Wikipedia range. Unsurprisingly polymathic, of course, but she listens with equal intensity and that’s unbeatable. And her husband answered my bedevilled question about Henry James in a couple of gentle and concise sentences. The best holidays are not architecture but people over dinner.


Plutarch said...

The Bohemian Bagel is the sort of name you wouldn't believe possible if you came upon it by chance.

Friends over dinner are not just the best holidays, but one of the best things that life has to offer.

Julia said...

I didn't get a chance to tell you, but Bohemia Bagel is owned by the same person who opened and put together the Communist Museum. The owner's nickname is Big Glenn, and he is an American who has lived here so long he has entered the history books.

Thank you for the epigram, I've always wanted one! And you know it was a complete pleasure for me to have you two here. I felt quite sad knowing that Prague was BBless once you left. Looking forward to seeing you guys in Hereford next.

marja-leena said...

What a grand sounding holiday in one of my favourite cities! I heartily agree that it's the friends there that make a place so special.

Hattie said...

Prague is still crowded? Dang, as we say in these parts.
What made that holiday for us were relatives of the woman I was traveling with. So many memories.

herhimnbryn said...

Now I want to go to Prague!

How wonderful to have your very own friendly text guide and then to meet up and share a meal.

Avus said...

Thoroughly enjoyed this example of expertly crafted reportage, BB.
An odd coincidence is that we investigated Henry James' house (Lamb House - National Trust) in Rye a few days ago.

Rouchswalwe said...

So while you were in Prague, I was eating toasted marshmallows and listening to Beagles braying. But we all of us enjoyed our dinner with friends! But BB ... missing the marionettes?! Ach nein!

Barrett Bonden said...

Plutarch: Used in a novel Bohemian Bagel would start so many inappropriate hares in the reader's mind it would defeat its inclusion. Friends over dinner: the quality of such events can be divided into three: (a) one looks at one's watch and asks how much longer will this meal last, (b) one looks at one's watch and one regrets time has passed so quickly, (c) one doesn't look at one's watch. The meal at Lokal (on top of everything a terrific name for a restaurant) fell into category (d) where one enters a non-time continuum.

Julia: You deserve more than an epigram. I do hope we have the opportunity to return the favour in Herefordshire though the messages will arrive not as texts (I'm not quick enough) but as fragments of parchment attached to the legs of ring-doves.

M-L: Since doing this post it seems everyone I've known, or am related to, has been to Prague. And the reaction has been unanimous.

Hattie: The key seems to be to have less obvious things to do on Saturday and Sunday.

HHB: I knew that Julia had provided this service for other friends and relations. But it seemed unique for us.

Avus: I mentioned Rye House to you after you described a very evocative cycling itinerary over Kentish roads I'm fairly familiar with. You admitted then, I think, you were not a James fan and you had my sympathy; he is a very tough row to hoe. Even so Rye House seems a worthwhile destination.

RW (zS): I mentioned your reaction to Mrs BB as we drove to the supermarket half an hour ago and she laughed aloud. She explains that had I seen the puppets I would have been alone. She fears them.

Lucy said...

I've never been to Prague, and now I wish even more that I had, but I have had coffee with Julia and Will, so I have shared one part of your experience!

Barrett Bonden said...

Lucy: As well as the dinner referred to, Julia met us at our hotel, took us to a swanky coffee house with Ritzian echoes, outlined the programme for our stay and refused point blank to allow us to pay. I made notes about this and other aspects of 3D Julia, then on reflection asked her permission to use one of the the more personal anecdotes (as yet unposted). She asked to see my notes and read them out aloud - a feat so remarkable, given my appalling handwriting, that I was forced to add yet another string to her polymathic bow.