Monday, 26 February 2007

I can't think of a title for this post, so I'll leave it to the Administrator to fill in this gap

Our founder having sunk this blog to the depths of his stoat killing antics (not to mention pictures of sexy buttocks) I feel it’s time to rescue it.

The first Liberazzi event of any significance happened at the weekend as a few of the old Harcov gang gathered for Charlie’s wedding. For those that don’t know, Charlie set out to Taiwan in ‘99 to make his fortune. As far as I know he’s still skint but he has, remarkably, managed to convince the beautiful Jade to marry him.

Here’s the happy couple. Charlie is a very lucky man.

For me the wedding marked the end of my reign as ‘champion organizer of bureaucratically challenging weddings’. It took us 6 months to get all our ducks lined up in Korea. Charlie’s achievement was extra special in that he added a speed element to the competition, managing to jump through all the hoops in a little over a month. Anyone wishing to steal Charlie’s crown will have to marry an underage homosexual Bolivian in Pyongyang a week tomorrow.

And here’s a few faces from Harcov a decade or more ago.

All looking as young and fresh faced as they did U Vachy in ’96.

Finally here's the only one I have from the business end of the evening in Hotel Praha. Some serious Jamesons Oirish fuelled reminishing going on here. It was wonderful to see Le Frenchman who was keen to round of the night with a nostalgic trip to some of the old haunts. Perhaps he did??

A lovely afternoon and evening. Just like a classic 8 hour lunch in Zverinek really. Plenty screaming, dribbling and crawling around on the floor, even some bare bottoms and I think someone threw up. The small army of under 3s are learning fast.

Friday, 23 February 2007

Signing off (for a week)

I got sick of looking at that dead rat each time I came in to check how much mileage we're clocking up here, so I thought I'd post something more aesthetically pleasing. I could have posted something from Our Man in Liberec's new Flickr site in homage to the unmistakable evidence that his biological duty has been performed, but I shall follow the ethical course trailblazed by celebrity magazine editors around the globe (...) and resist placing kiddy pics in the public domain (assuming the seven people who know about this blog and couldn't get by each day without reading it outnumber those who know about the Flickr site).

And so what can I say about the couple pictured here? You don't need to rub too may brain cells together to produce that spark of recognition in regard to that man on the right. The early stages of a receding hairline, the Chesire grin, the jokeshop blackened teeth and the ability to ham it up at someone else' wedding are a dead giveaway. The wee lassie on the left, on the other hand, is none other than our Scottish mascot, Bindy; not to be confused with the equally pint-sized heir to Steve Irwin's estate. Despite the reasonably intimate-looking nature of this photo, I have it on excellent authority that the bloke here was more interested in the bride rather than the guests, although the latter's later catatonic state precluded any potential interference in what were otherwise very happy nuptials.

And my other motivation for posting today is that I'm off tramping for the next week, so you blogophiles will have to get your fix elsewhere, or else - and I know this is a crazy idea - file your own posts. I'm doing the Travers-Sabine circuit in the Nelson Lakes region, which is going to take me about five days hard slog over mountain passes and all on my Jack Jones (to see where I'm heading, take a look at this link See you at the end of it.

Tuesday, 20 February 2007

You doity, doity rat

Me: So, mate, what did you do last weekend?

Kivak: Thought I'd slow down my rate of posting and instead head out into the bush for my fortnightly commune with Mother Earth.

Me: I guess that'll explain this picture, huh? Looks to me like a case of wanton death and destruction out there in the native forests of Aotearoa...

Kivak: Erm, these little fuckers are an introduced species out here. True, the Maori fellas brought another species of rat with them on that leisurely cruise a thousand years ago when they set out from Hawaiki, i.e. the Polynesian homeland, but they were actually a relatively benign type of rodent and are now so rare that they're actually protected themselves.

Me: So get to the point then.

Kivak: Right. These are the evil little European buggers that arrived on board early whaling and colonists' ships. They've devastated the native bird population since then by eating freshly lain eggs and killing nesting chicks.

Me: So you're a one-man paramilitary death squad, right?

Kivak: Not quite, you sarcastic twat. I assuage my middle-class consumerist conscience by working as a volunteer for the Rimutaka Forest Park Trust's Kiwi Proctection Programme. I'm responsible for a line of 20 traps on the Big Bend track and Lower Turere Stream in the Orongorongo catchment area, about 10km from Wainuiomata. There are other lines of traps all around the area to help protect about nine Kiwis rereleased into the forest last year after an absence of more than a hundred years. Here's a picture of the missus during one of the release ceremonies.

Me: So does it actually make a difference?

Kivak: Well, the traps are actually designed to kill stoats, but I must admit I've only ever caught rats so far. Amazing how quickly they decompose; often there are just the odd paw or vertebre left in the trap by the time I check them. Just doing my little bit to rescue the planet.

Me: Gosh, I think you're wonderful and I'd like you to be the father of my children.

Friday, 16 February 2007

Feeling bored? Time to kill? Winding down on a Friday? Send another post!

Well, alright then. I guess I should only post once a day at a maximum, but I'm feeling a bit garrulous this afternoon, and as a typical obsessive-compulsive I like to keep my posts nicely compartmentalised. And what's more, I came across another set of party photos when rummaging through my files last night that reinforce my own personal impression that life in Mitteleuropa in the 1990s really was a bit of a doddle and a total stress and responsibility-free zone (give or take the odd alcohol-induced bout of psychosis following 72-hour benders in Opava).

After commiserating with myself the other day over my apparent lack of photos of our Canadian colleagues, I was heartened to stumble across this pic from June 1999 taken in Jarda's back garden. Here we have Rob in full beer-flow while Dirty Dog Rotten laughs at all the jokes in the hope of receiving some alms to shore up the brain-ooze precipitated by the previous evening's festivities. We trust Rob isn't relating the story of the not-so-slow dance with Shena in 'S' Klub.

The ghost of Samuel Beckett, ah

Did a double-take when I opened my mail inbox at work this morning and found what at first sight looked a message written in homage to Samuel Beckett, or maybe even sent by Sammy himself. I naturally thought to myself, 'Hah! Here's an opportunity to lift the blog into the stratosphere of the high brow and dispense with toilet humour and naked men's buttocks (no names, Bedrich).' So imagine my surprise when upon closer inspection I realised it was clearly one of the those well-known and considered panegyrics from the legendary 'ah' alluding to his recent discovery of the half-dozen emails from Kivak lying dormant in his own inbox:

"ok i've got over ionital hurdle and actually looked at it tiny steps my friend it's lunchtime and the pub awaits ah"

Note the worldly-wise use of the famous Beckettian literary tool of blending sentences together in a sort of stream-of-consciousness slurge on the keyboard and the eye-catching and distinctive lack of punctuation. Here we also note ah's brilliant mimicking of the stark and fundamentally minimalist approach of Beckett. We also see here ah's depiction of life's obstacles (having to get over an "ionital [sic] hurdle" together with the comedic ruse of affecting somebody afflicted with dyslexia and hence placing further emphasis on the sense of battling against the elements), while ultimately mitigating the perceived pessimism by demonstrating that the journey is finally worth the effort and can be achieved through an inherent optimism in the human condition (the awaiting "pub" providing the imagery for mankind's salvation).

Whether this message acts as a precursor to a fuller disclosure of the complete range of ah's literary prowess remains to be seen. In the meantime we shall dig through the photographic archives and see what we can come up in the way of an old image of ah before he does a salinger on us.

Wednesday, 14 February 2007

Freak out. Still more frivolity

Don't worry - I've just about run out of pictures from the party that these originated from; I'm just still a bit excited about the fact that I've actually mastered the technology to put colour versions of hard copy photographs onto the Internet. I'm sure the novelty will wear off in a week or so. But here anyway are a couple of the last characters from the mainstay at Harcov budova 'A': B & K. K's still in Liberec, having produced the next generation with Tomas, while B is still somewhere in Prague fronting up for the city's "premier indie-punk band" Freak Parade (see Sorry about the picture of you here, B, but it's the best I could do, and there was little I was able to do to airbrush that prat out of the picture; Bedrich might have better luck with his photoshop software that he's no doubt pirated from a shareware website. Nice interior furnishings though. I had better luck with K's picture - not too difficult to excise that wally from the frame, although it's still his lughole listening in at the side.

Enough of the frivolity

Had to make another post to avoid seeing that pair of buttocks first thing and arousing the curiosity of my nearest neighbours here at work. And this picture seemed like a good antidote and could possibly also explain why we haven't seen cobbers from parts of Bohemia for a while. This is apparently a picture of the recent inversion in the north of the country - Jaslovske-Bohunice (?) - curtesy of Dezicek.

Wasted half the day yesterday participating in a job interview, although according my gullible current employer I was attending to an emergency out the back of the house when a flood of raw sewage came bubbling up the gully trap at the back door, requiring the immedate attentions of a plumber. All came to nowt however, as the interviewing panel clearly saw through my weak attempt to carry off some gravitas and wasted no time in telling me so. Things started to go pear-shaped at the second question, which was the classic, "So, tell us what gets you excited?", at which point I probably closed my eyes, consciously tightened my sphincter, and desperately held back to urge to say something like "Polishing my purple policeman's helmet, you fucking knob".

Back to the drawing board then. Shouldn't complain though, as where else could I goof off as much, as well as get the funding to prolong my neverending university studies. Will have to get a little bit more serious this year though, as there's no exam which means all assignments have to completed on time and not handed in six weeks late, as has been my habit until now. The name of the paper this year, since you asked? Topics in Sustainability. First assignment should be fun: a film review of something with a sustainability theme or depiction of native peoples. I was thinking of maybe The Emerald Forest, which would provide ample latitude to analyse in minute detail the scenes featuring naked South American Indian nubiles. Any recommendations?

Monday, 12 February 2007

What a load of bollocks!

Well, what do we have here? Can anybody hazard a guess as to whom this clenched pair of gluttious maximus might belong (I don't think I can recycle my favourite word, 'callipygian', in this scenario)? This image was taken way back in 2002, so only the wife of the owner of pictured derriere can attest to its current state of tautness or quiveryness, as the case may be. Bedrich is barred from this competition. One should always be wary of raiding others' old Yahoo photo-share websites, as it exposes them to similar scavenging forays. To be fair though, initiative has been shown in this instance and I always give credit where it's due.

Now, what could possibly be the cause of that nasty-looking blemish on the right cheek? One could surmise that the picture may have been recorded following vigorous ablutions in the shower block in the densely wooded section of Clapham Common, although clearly the light bulb had blown and someone had forgotten to bring their shower gel with them (adds a whole new dimension to the concept of 'a stab in the dark'). On the other hand, this may be the result of an overly-enthusiastic employer or pub clientele accepting the challenge to "Polib mi prdel". I leave other possible causes up to you, dear readers.

Oh, before I forget, I did try to mine another rich seam of photographic material for images of the Canadian branch of the family (featuring beer belly competitions), but the site looks like it's either been padlocked or has been taken offline altogether. A shame, as I think there was some good material there worthy of reproduction. Otherwise, I don't have any pictures myself of our Canadian friends at all :(

Sunday, 11 February 2007

Spot the difference

The infamous party piece of our founder.

An ancient maori ritual adopted by the All Blacks to terrify the oppostion. Later adopted by a bespectacled and balding flyweight in the pubs of northern Bohemia as a signal of complete inebriation. Also caused folk to wet their pants.

I'm in

Ever tried writing with one hand while the other one tries to calm a screaming child and nurse a glass of Tescos own label single malt? It’s not pretty. Neither of them. Two birds with one stone perhaps ? A drop of the Glen Edwards into wee Joe’s bottle and Daddy can happily blog away.

OK, I’m new to this, but my reading of this gig so far is as follows. After years of largely one way email traffic from our man Kivak, he’s come up with a way to guilt trip us all into writing to him. It’s a sophisticated strategy, but successful in primary school playgrounds the world over. I’ll call you a fanny until you do what I want you to do. It is amusing and it seems to be working.

Particularly nice to have BA join in - my only real contender for hopeless fuck of the year when it comes to staying in touch. Who’ll blink first ;-) I do have photoshop technology and I’m not afraid to use it – so here’s a pic of the biggest blackest skinny white guy I’ve ever known (and I know a few).

Anyway, I wish I could reminisce more about Harcov in the mid – late nineties. It was one of the greatest chapters so far. The trouble is remembering it. It’s all rolled into one humungous session which is not all that far from the truth. The best evenings I can remember were those when, knackered after a full 90 minutes at the coal face, we’d stop off in Balcaru for one on the way home. Eight pints later it would be home for a quick packet of greasy noodle and a jug of Regent from the pool hall, before hitting Vacha / Zanzi / S club / Had. Aah, wasn’t life simple.

Time for a refill.....

Friday, 9 February 2007

A job offer from Czechoslovakia

Take a Captain Cook at this archival equivalent of pure gold. Christies would take bids in the order of hundreds of hellers for this little piece of history. I hope Bedrich can abscond from his parental duties for long enough to puruse this fateful missive that ultimately brought one of us to those Bohemian shores. It's penned by someone very closely connected to Bedrich's own appearance in those lands before being taken under my own paternal wing. This is dated 27 February 1992; hard to believe that it's 15 years already.

Thursday, 8 February 2007

Three faces of TC, aka Road Warrior

Heh, heh, heh. Can't resist this. And it is my lunchtime afterall. I had to mark the arrival of Road Warrior to our fold in a fit and proper manner, so here is a group of highly sympathetic detailed personal portraits of our man in his natural habitat outside of a Peugeot 504 (sorry TC, not sure what you're monitoring the Central and Eastern European motorways in these days). Note the ubiquitous presence of pullitr and security ashtray.
Portrait One has Our Man in Sofia fiendishly plotting the exposure of Kivak as a wholly inadequate practitioner of Maori war dances, using the convincing and irrefutable argument of "Do it man, do it, do it man".

Portrait Two has Brnensky Borac stewing over the expected time of arrival of his next Plzensky Prazdroj at the salubrious and celebrated Formanka hospoda in Liberec during the last known reunion of a sizeable portion of our co-authors. Also note the automated positioning of the left hand ready to receive all incoming calls from head office despite the absence of a mobile phone. "C_____, prosim Vas!"

And finally, Personality Study Three has Top Cat feeling a little coquettish (as opposed to 'kokot'ish) following ample resupply of said favourite renal cleansing fluid. Welcome my friend.

Thumbnail portraits open to discussion.

You Asked For It

Nazdar Motherfuckers! (Can I say "motherfuckers" on this blog? Motherfuckers, motherfuckers...) No, Rotten, I haven't been drinking yet.

Kivak, awesome work in setting this thingy up. Been a long time, my man. I'd have joined sooner except I didn't have the foggiest from your first email who the fuck "Kivak" was and why he kept inviting me to his blog. Looked like the kind of spam I delete every day. At any rate, I'm here.

My vain hope is that this format may help ameliorate my well-deserved rep as a lamefuck correspondant. (No sniping from the peanut gallery, Rotten..) Suffice to say that I'm glad to be back in touch with you bastards, and intend to stop by frequently. For reals.

Also, suffice to say that probably like y'all, my life has changed significantly since I was last in touch. Won't bore you with the details now, except to say that life is better than ever and I couldn't be happier. Hope something similar is true for you. But I will still beat your asses...

Wednesday, 7 February 2007

Dobro jutro

cool idea guys, could I make a request to JP, Fraz and Matt if they are reading this. Send me your home addresses so I can shoot you a postcard from time to time.
I am lousy at email correspondence but can take advantage of my constant travels to at least say hi with a postcard.

Greetings from Sofia


Friday, 2 February 2007

Very occasional clients of Vacha

Alrighty, here are a few more to pick over. The first one I believe features three Eurowomen - a German, a Frenchwoman and a Swiss from memory. The Frenchwoman was absolutely dropdead gorgeous and exquisitely callipygian I seem to recall. Certainly added a sense of sophistication to the usual top-table drunken antics at Mr Vacha's place.
The next is of course the Captain, but I don't know if anyone's still in touch with him these days. Has most probably been called up to calibrate distances for laying down artillery fire over villages in the Sunni Triangle.

And finally this next one, I'm totally scoobied if I can remember who the hell these people are. All I can say is they were young, amiable, impressionable, and from somewhere in the States.

First slice of historical documentation

Okaaaaay, we've hit a slight technical bump here (since corrected 14/02/07). Turns out my relationship with computer technology is about as tenuous as Scotland's entry into the next World Cup. I hoped I could get a colour version of these pictures posted onto the blog, but it's taken longer than I thought to decipher the myriad settings on the office scanner. 'Fraid you'll have to make do with some atmospheric black and whites in the meantime.

And so no prizes for guessing the identity of this devil-may-care character. VD, mate, you should be damned lucky I don't have PhotoShop software at my disposal here, coz I could have a lot of fun with this portrait. And one can only wonder what the fuck he's doing wearing a tie; I think he may have been undergoing a Road Warrior mentoring programme at the time. This guy also has an invite to co-author, but so far he hasn't risen to the bait.

Which leads me on to our next exhibit here (below) in which our man is accompanied by a woman well-known to both he and this blogger for being totally fucking barking mad, as in certifiably howling-at-the-full-moon-carpetchewing-padded-cell-fly-catching-face-twitching-urine-collecting type of mad. Very pretty, granted, but a sandwich short of a full hamper basket, a kangaroo lost in the top paddock, a few tiles missing from her spaceshuttle, a semi-tone flat on the high notes, one hot pepper short of an enchilada, and any other synonym or cliche you can think of. In which case, you should watch out Johnny Rotten, as the last I heard she was stalking the grounds of Barrandov as a production accountant or something along those lines. Click on the images if they're too small - can't work out how to turn them into jpegs rather than bmps.

Thursday, 1 February 2007

Lost in translation

Has anyone seen this man? It doesn't look like it here, but when last heard of he was lost in the well remunerated translation of some dense tome. Besides, it's unlikely he'd get hold of the requisite pass to be photographed in this type of estblishment again. It's more probable that he's professorily champing at his nails, furrowing his brows, and staring wistfully over the streetscape outside the museum as he broods over a problem of syntax. Rumour has it that this particular branch of the Harcov family has a future Scunthorpe FC, sorry, I mean Scottish striker baking away in the oven and due for presentation sometime in April/May?

This is the first in a potential series of show and tell postings revealing the lives of all the possible co-authors of this blog. You see the benefit of taking all those pictures over the decades? This particular personage was selected for a show and tell today only because his picture was easily accessible. But don't worry, the technology to get all those old hard copy photos onto the Net is readily available, so you can expect a few pictorial blasts from the past shortly. Yeah, I know I've done more than my fair share of blogging today, but I thought you might miss me while I'm away with the missus on a tramping trip for the duration of the approaching holiday weekend.

Bedrich on top

Yep, well done Bedrich! You managed to successfully negotiate your way through the technological labyrinthe to get logged on as a co-author. And here to the right is a small tribute to your well-known ability to overcome all hazards placed before you and which provides ample evidence to the rest of us that Bedrich always likes to go on top (and can you also make out Johnny Rotten's spiffing red shoes in the background?). We salute you, which makes me feel like listing the lyrics to my favourite Lou Reed number, but one is enough for the day. Let us all also doff our caps to Bedrich for leading the scoring in diluting the Czech gene pool by producing not one but two wee nippers in the last few days, curtesy of the missus of course. Road Warrior will have to get cracking if he wants to stay ahead of the field, but more about that character a bit later. Anyhow, I'm sure I speak for all of us when I say I'm looking forward with much anticipation to Bedrich's first post.

By the way, I should own up to having usurped the original motivation behind this blog. It was Johnny Rotten's idea and he was envisaging a site where all those old Harcov residents could post absolutely anything they liked: favourite books/bands, random ideas/opinions, etc, so don't think you're obliged to rake over old coals, as I'm more than likely to do here. Write any old shit you like, although the Administrator tells me he reserves to right to signpost any nonsense.

It’s burning up time

The Brighton train it goes real soon
My Brighton Belle is in her room
It's burning up time
Burning up time

I wanna burn up while I'm having good times
Don't wanna burn up with other people's bad times
Like a meteor
Like to meet yer

The weekend's here the Finchley Boys
Are gonna make a lot of noise
It's burning up time

You either love or you despise
There's just no time for compromise
The days have gotta move real fast
We know that nothing's gonna last

Is this a load of nonsense? Yes, of course it is, but it does provide me with the title for this post and hint at the nature of my daily routine, plus it gives me a chance to put in a plug for the favourite band of my teenage years, The Guildford Stranglers (who, by the way, I saw at Lucerna in 2001).

And speaking of my daily routine, I must concede that Rotten has a valid point to make regarding the phenomenon of blogging at the taxpayers’ expense, although I’d point out that my office time is not particularly valuable. In my defence, however, I can assure you that the little work that I do is high value-added, even if I may be plodding along at 20% capacity. I can do this because I have refined the art of multi-tasking, i.e. I can skype, blog, email, upload photos, trade lascivious gossip with my neighbour and write the odd piece of governmental statutory documentation simultaneously. And providing the illusion of industry is enough for most employers. I guess I’m also at a certain advantage over most of you guys because I don’t have the responsibilities of parenting, casting auditions, meeting publishers’ deadlines, and breaking records for carbon emitted on business trips per annum, and therefore I am ‘time-rich’.

Truth be told, this is actually the fourth blog I’m contributing to at the moment as a result of testing out my hypothesis that it only takes six weeks to form a habit. The habit I’m wanting to form is writing, and so far the energy levels haven’t dipped too precipitously. The other blogs are simple affairs, like an experiment in tracking down ancestors (, another one for generally dumping all my middle-class whiteboy woe-is-me existentialist angsty wank (no url because it’s too full of crap and may go by the bye soon enough), while the final one I can’t mention for fear I’ll get into a power of shit once again…

Sadly, all this extra-curricular publicly-funded blogging may be coming to an unromantic end shortly because some unwitting putz out there is seriously considering me for a year’s contract for a stupid amount of money, although I’m divided over whether I should be taking the prospective offer as seriously. I’ve already duped my way past the first screening interview by answering the naffest questions imaginable, but now I’m meant to put all those answers down in writing. Just take a look at this utter tosh:

Okay, and after all this waffle I’ve completely forgotten what I was going to write here in the first place. Probably something about encouraging you other fellas to write posts, although comments are fine if that’s how you want to contribute. I’m totally new to this game myself, but I presume that once you log in with the invites I sent out you can easily start posting. I see we’ve got three of us looped in so far, so I think it’s fair to say that we can start indulging in some gratuitous piss-taking of the others until they’re shamed into joining.