CC BY-SA   krozruch



The second in a series on Prague under quarantine, I am joined by Woodstock to talk about the the days before the quarantine was imposed (and before the Coronavirus had risen to the top of the news agenda and to the forefront of our minds). Woodstock, helpfully, has a list of the major announcements in terms of the restrictions imposed by the Czech government. Equally, she has a list of films we had watched in the days that the reality of the disease, which would be declared a pandemic in this period, was sinking in and beginning to affect behaviour, impacting sporting and cultural events such as the One World Festival and the "Shockproof" Film Festival which we discuss.

We talk about the following films:

And an event, Filmový hovnocuc, which the festival organisers charmingly translate as "Cinematic Shitsucker: Space Farts". The listener may wonder that I place such emphasis on the alien in Dark Star; I had intended to use this notorious episode in the film to illustrate the nature of the cinema and the festival since, at that moment, a number of beach balls were thrown out from the balconies to be bounced around the hall for a number of minutes. It might equally have illustrated something of the nature of quarantine since I have regularly woken up Woodstock since by bouncing on her with a yoga ball "alien": there is a kind of stir-crazy exam time student humour to lockdown that overlaps with the target audience of The Shockproof Festival.

At the end of the recording, I talk about the restrictions being imposed in different countries in Europe. Up until this point, Britain's handling of the crisis had been roundly criticised by experts and pundits alike. In an article, published on the Guardian website at mid-afternoon on the day of the recording, Devi Sridhar, chair of global health at the University of Edinburgh, charges that the government had squandered a head start over Covid-19. She has been active on twitter over this time. I had said several times that things had been moving very quickly. Following the recording we sat down to watch the last episode of a 1979 BBC version of John Le Carré's Tinker Tailor Soldier, Spy, during which I missed a call from my brother: A "lockdown" had finally been imposed on the UK. A Buzzfeed News article by the political editor, Alex Wickham published on the morning of March 21st, dissects the heated debate between scientists that forced Johnson to change policy. Devi Sridhar is not impressed by this action alone. In future recordings we will attempt to follow this.

Only briefly do we mention the criticism of the Czech Response to the pandemic. We will go into this more in future episodes perhaps. It seems very likely that Central and Eastern European states will pursue a course which is authoritarian in nature and rather more reliant on peer pressure to conform to restrictions than is seen elsewhere. I have not yet come across any well-informed English language1 commentary on the Czech response to Coronavirus but, though I praised the response of the Czech government in terms of the timely imposition of measures involving social distancing, Devi Sridhar's commentary on the necessity of testing and contact tracing to either accompany such measures or to some degree obviate them is perhaps almost equally applicable to the Czech case. That said, we do place Czech and indeed Central and Eastern European reactions to the context in its proper context and will continue to examine this as the quarantine, and alongside it the series, progresses.

Credits and acknowledgements

This is a tough time for musicians, please support them however you can. If you know of any other bands and musicians who are using Creative Commons licenses, please let me know.

Tryad's album, Instrumentals can be found at Bandcamp.
Golden Duck Orchestra also have a Bandcamp page.

Further reading and footnotes

  1. In Czech, the coverage of Deník N and Seznam Zprávy are consistently excellent and, though the media landscape is the very picture of oligarchy and monoculture, there are a handful of others doing very well.