ryankeating

Nicole on Mormonism and finding herself in Prague

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Nicole’s flat seemed to be perspiring with this ridiculously massive wave of love from the moment we walked in! Petr realized that he had been in the exact same apartment years ago to take photos of a famous Czech actress. The flat had obviously undergone quite a transformation since then – fairy lights littering the doorways along with scattered hearts covering the blank walls. Also, the spectacular 360 degree views certainly added to the wow factor. This place was epic, as was Nicole’s story.

In our everyday rat race we often see Mormons and other Christian denominations taking to the streets and preaching the word of their god to many, but rarely do we get a glimpse of the inside… And I’m not talking about the “garments” protecting their skin and decency. Nicole referred to Mormonism as not so much of a religion, but a lifestyle. Scroll down for a look at this lifestyle as well as her transformation and sudden epiphany that her future was in the Czech capital.

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Where are you from Nicole?

I was born and raised about 20 miles north of Washington D.C. I’m an east coast girl. Really near the city, the suburbs I guess.

What brought you to Prague?

Hmmm million dollar question! The easier answer or the hard answer?

Whatever you want to tell me!

Dissatisfaction with my own life… A lack of fulfilment. And this wanderlust that was growing inside me drew me to travel. As a teacher I was working two jobs because I wasn’t earning enough to support myself.

Really? The salary is that bad?

I was in the best paid county. I served by night and I taught by day. I was averaging about 70+ hours a week and I owned my own home. Basically, I was doing everything on paper that was supposed to make me quote unquote “happy”. But I was exhausted and uninspired. Before I knew it 5 years had gone, I had done nothing. I also have this bizarre fear of ageing!

I think a few people do now…

So I kind of made a decision to make a drastic change, if I didn’t I would be 40 and still not have experienced anything outside of that current world. The grind of serving and the 9-5 job was tiresome. Once I was serving on “Cinco de Mayo,” a big Mexican holiday and which also happened to be the day before my birthday. I worked at the stroke of midnight and realized that I was officially 30 and elbow deep in people’s leftover food. I remember thinking to myself, this cannot be ‘it’! So I left, but it took two years. I sold my home and everything that I own basically. And I dragged my ass to the Czech Republic!

Why the Czech Republic? Why Prague?

Why not?! Because it’s an amazing beautiful city that is preserved. The harder answer is more practical; I was thinking about how I could survive in another country. The only talent I had was English, so I looked at the teaching programs. And decided on (plug!), the Language House TEFL Program, it made it possible for me to be here. So I looked into that and went ahead! It also happened to be a place where I could teach and travel at the same time.

And what did you do in DC?

Well, I actually… I’ve kinda been all over the place. I went to Georgetown University and I took a hiatus from school when I was REALLY young. It was meant to be 6 months and turned into 6 years. I ended up doing two road trips across the country. That’s where my wanderlust blossomed a bit. After that I leased apartments in Alexandria, VA… just outside of D.C. So I lived there a bit, then went to Maryland’s suburbs to go to school and get a teaching degree and began teaching in the public schools system.

So you taught in public schools? What was that like?

Yeah it’s an extremely high stress environment. You are highly under appreciated and highly overworked. I personally taught a lot of underprivileged students and found it rewarding, but very tiresome. You kinda feel like you’re being professionally taken advantage of. I never fell out of love with teaching though. A colleague put it well, he said that “he loved teaching but hated being a teacher”. I love the idea of teaching, but the conditions of the job sucks the joy out of such a noble occupation.

What are kids like in schools over there?

The population that I taught was actually really challenging. Quite a few students came from broken homes. I had one who was abandoned by their mother and lived with relatives, then the mother killed herself, and all the while this was happening I was trying to teach him fractions. The value system has been altered a little bit. It felt like an upward battle.

I like that you call it such a noble occupation.

If you take away education, you have a third world country. It became an ethical dilemma for me to stay in that job. I didn’t agree with the way the US not making education a priority.

A lot of people have a negative opinion on education in the US. What’s yours?

I would actually say that public schools are making an effort to make it better. In saying that, most of the students I taught were globally stunted, myself also being a product of that – when I came here I realized that there was so much I was unaware of in the world. I felt slightly ashamed that I was contributing to that disservice. We could certainly do a better job.

What do you do here in Prague?

I taught English but it didn’t really suit me. I now teach first grade at an international school. I do exactly what I do in the states, only I don’t have to work two jobs and I can travel. I think I’ve had more personal growth in the last six months than I have in the last six years.

By the way, there are a lot of hearts everywhere on your walls! What are you in love with right now? 

I got depressed for a second (laughs) because I’m not in love with anyone right now! But I do love this city. Making out is a big thing here too.

Would you say there is more affection in public here than back home?

Definitely more PDA for sure! My roommates and my friends will tell you that for sure. On the escalators in metro stations! So much groping! I actually don’t mind it, it doesn’t bother me. Because somewhere inside… I am yearning for that myself! (laughs).

We all need a little groping sometimes! And now to a different page, I heard you used to be a Mormon? What kind of lifestyle did you lead?

Yes, I did. Good question. I was born and raised Mormon and practiced it for 19 years. They practice the faith religiously. But eventually, I fell away from the church when I was around 22.

I understand that Mormons wear a special kind of body suit under their clothes? What is that all about?

They’re called ‘garments’ and they’re for both men and women. They’re worn closest to the skin because it is a symbolic gesture of covenants made to God. They also stand as a reminder to maintain respect for one’s body by adhering to modest dress, since it’s not possible to wear immodest clothing if you are wearing the garments, hence no strapless dresses or booty shorts.

Did you wear garments?

No, you don’t wear them unless you’ve been on a mission or after marriage.

Tell us a little bit about other customs that are involved with it.

It’s pretty straight edge. I don’t think I said a curse word until I was way older. I didn’t drink or smoke or drink caffeine. You pretty much just live a healthy lifestyle. It is more of a way of life than a Sunday religion. I went to church every morning for Seminary before high school. We would also have church activities on a Sunday too. To me, it was my life.

Funny story though, when I was a senior in high school we were learning a section of western culture on the states. I was shown the movie Tombstone which is an R rated film and I felt that it didn’t coincide with my value system at the time. I had to excuse myself from the classroom, so I was pretty dedicated. It was well received by my friends, surprisingly to me! I had a pretty large social circle. Everyone was respectful and people admired my conviction at the time. I wasn’t pushy about it. Some people can be, like in any religion.

How have you changed now?

I’m an evil evil person! Sorry Mum! (laughs) Just kidding! There was a tragedy in my life that made me test my faith – I had personal disagreements with the church itself. I admire my family and friends who still practice. It’s an incredibly difficult way to live in society.

What happened to you to make you question your faith?

I was always kind of the black sheep in the Sunday school class. I would say things like “NO, I don’t want to stay at home and make babies. I want to work!” I was outspoken! It had more to do with the woman’s role in the church.

What are some things that you miss from this time?

Oh wow. You know there is a really really strong community and a sense of comradery with the people you see all the time and it is really quite lovely when you see people come together. Some of the most thoughtful people and nicest people I have ever met, some of them happen to be Mormon. I do miss that spirit of togetherness which I don’t often feel anymore. Maybe protesters feel that too when they’re fighting for a cause.

It was really really hard for me to leave the church. It was almost traumatic. It was hard for me to come to turns with it.

How did your family react?

I was terrified of how they would react. I underestimated them and their unconditional love, because they were completely supportive. They have supported me a lot. My Dad is a convert so he has a bit of free spirit. He hitch-hiked around the country and went to the original Woodstock! He’s had an interesting life. So he understood my leaving and my need to figure things out for myself.

How would you describe Prague in adjectives?

Oh gosh! Unassuming, unpretentious, it’s one of the reasons why I love this city especially because D.C. is so pretentious. Simple. I live a very simple life now. I work and make crowns and feed myself – it’s lovely. For me Prague holds a special place in my heart because it is the first place for me abroad. So I saw my first castle here. I had a legitimate tour-gasm. I was crying!

If you could go back in time and see anything, would what you see?

Oh my! If I could go back in time. Jesus!

Good answer!

(Laughs) Jesus of Nazareth the end. No, just joking! God, you know it’s so overwhelming. I couldn’t tell you honestly.

If there was a movie about your life, who would play you?

Probably Sandra Bullock. She’s a little perky, feisty, fun. Some of her roles are serious and some are not. She would be a good fit. I love her in While you were Sleeping.

Where do you hang out in Prague?

I did the Clock Tower Bar Crawl for a while so I’ve done the touristy areas. Now I kind of prefer the local Žižkov scene. I just started finding the gay and lesbian community too. I’m discovering a little bit of that. In D.C. we have such a huge gay community, so I was lost and missed that but I’ve been reintroduced and it’s been nice.

Who is really important to you here? Who’s been a great help?

My room-mates I really adore. I’ve been blessed to meet them and live with them now. But, the people who have helped me the most are the people that don’t live here. I was surprised by the support. It really cemented for me who my real friends are. My grandmother died last month and that was hard for me because I was away from home. It was financially impossible for me to go back and the way that they extended the love to me is beyond words.

You’ve just run the half marathon? I see some medals up on the wall.

This was my fourth marathon. Since I’ve been abroad, I ran Barcelona in February and the Prague Half a few weeks ago. I figure that what I’ll do is run my way through Europe. Running is always good and close to my heart. I make it look very painful, but it’s mine.

Written and transcribed by Ryan Keating. Photography by Petr Kurečka.

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Natalia talks vintage fashion and gay Russian politicians

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By Ryan Keating-Lambert.

Last week we spent some time with the grunge and vintage fashion inspired Natalia. Immersed among a range of delicate, modern and inspiring outfits and accessories, she gave us an insight into her shop ‘The Item’ nestled in the heart of Prague’s old town, her glorious life in the Bohemian capital, as well as her challenging past in Russia and Moldavia. Read on and let us know what you think.

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Where are you from Natalia?

I’m from Saint Petersburg in Russia. I’ve lived here already for 11 years.

I’ve always wanted to go there. Do you go back often?

I was there 1 month ago, but that was the first time in 5 years.

What brought you to Prague?

Nothing. I just decided to start my life on a new page. And it was easy and fast to move to the Czech Republic, so I chose Prague.

Tell us about growing up in Saint Petersburg….

Ok so it’ll be a story about my family. My family are originally from different regions in the Urals and after WWII my grandfather was sent to Moldavia to bring it to life after the war. Then my parents, after they finished university, were also sent there. So I was born and grew up there and stayed until I was 17. But then there was a war there when Moldavia decided to break away from the Soviet Union. No one really knows about this war, it was scary. Because we were Russian, my parents last their jobs. So we had to move back to Russia, that’s when I moved to Saint Petersburg, when I was 17. It was a local war, similar to what is going on now in Ukraine.

Were you personally exposed to any violence?

Some of my friends were beaten on the street because we didn’t speak Moldavian well. At that time we were only 15, so it was quite rough. But I was only harmed psychologically (laughs).

I’m glad you have a sense of humour about it now. Do you still know anyone there?

A couple of friends. I studied in a Russian school there and 80% of my classmates emigrated immediately after finishing.

Russians are known generally for having a hard time here. Have you ever ran into any trouble?

Yeah.. I cannot say that it has happened quite often, but for example the most disgusting thing was in Riegrovy Sady one year ago. About one year ago there was a hockey championship on the big screen in the beer garden, Czech vs. Russia, and I was by myself with my beautiful dog and ordered some water. The bartender said “no Russian pigs”… I started to cry – I really didn’t expect that. So my Czech friends helped me and then I called the garden to complain in the end . I told the owner the story and he said to me “But you know what? If I pay attention to these complaints, I will have no bartenders.” After that I decided that I would never step into this stupid place anymore.

That’s terrible.

It’s not the kind of reaction that a woman should expect from a man.

What’s your opinion on the recent events involving Russia?

You know I am really afraid that there will be a war. So many people have died already. Have you seen the photos of the ones (in Kyiv) that have died already? It’s terrible! I hope that all sides will be wise enough not to escalate this. It should be stopped.

Tell us a little bit about your store!

Well, I opened my first store two months after I moved to the Czech Republic. I started to sell vintage clothes at the beginning. I think I was one of the first or maybe the first in Prague. In the beginning it was quite difficult because people were asking “are they clothes from dead people?” or “ah you get everything for free and then sell it…” It was quite stupid. But from the beginning I’ve had some interesting customers that I still have today. Now I mainly concentrate on new clothes – I buy designs from South Korea, Japan, Italy, the USA, the UK and I also now have my own line of fashion.

Did you study fashion design?

No. I studied Chinese language and sinology, but that was tonnes of years ago. I’ve always liked old fashion.

Who would be your fashion icon?

I think Yves Saint Lauren, I love his style. And also Dior and his new look with those dresses.

What inspires you to design?

The 50s! This is my favourite period if we are talking about clothes.

What is your favourite piece that you’ve designed?

Last year I was lucky to get some great material factory by Dolce and Gabbana and I did a Marilyn Monroe dress (pictured).

It’s beautiful. How do you find fashion in Prague?

Generally it’s quite boring. But the situation has changed a lot in the last couple of years. Now people are becoming generally more brave. Before I couldn’t allow myself to wear this, it would be too bright or strange or something. Now people are becoming more brave.

Where do you like to hang out in Prague?

Wow! Ok, my favourite places! Chapeau Rouge, Druhé Patro, Bukanýr and Follow me Cafe which is new… and Le Clan as well! I also used to go to Termix and Valentino a lot.

I guess you have quite a few gay friends then?

80% of my friends are gay.

What do you think about the situation in Russia right now?

Pure stupidity. Everything that is going on there with gays right now is stupid. Especially because I know from a close friend that a huge percentage of our government officials are gay orientated.

And what do you think about Putin? Is he gay?

(Laughs) No I don’t think so.

If there was a movie about your life, which actress would play you?

You know all actresses that I really love are old. For example Meryl Streep or Susan Sarandon. I like very much Courtney Love as well.

If you could go back in time, what would you see?

I would go to the 60s to the Woodstock festival! And also, I would go to Montreux to see Marvin Gaye live in concert!!! I have goosebumps just thinking about that!

How would you describe Prague in adjectives?

Strange, because it’s not really Czech Republic at all. There are so many good things and so many bad things. Locals and guests always complain about Prague, but if they leave they miss it and take any chance to come back. But generally I like it.

Would you ever leave Prague?

Yeah, I think so. I want to live nearby the sea. If here was a warm sea here, it would be the most perfect city in the world…

What do you miss most about Saint Petersburg?

Opera. The Mariinsky theatre. I used to go there often and I really miss it.

Will you ever go back and live there?

I don’t think so.

Why not?

Mainly because of the climate. Plus it is still quite unstable. I remember the financial crisis in 1998 when in one night we lost all of our money. Almost everyone who had their money in the bank lost it. Would you live in a country like that? Anyway the borders are still open for now, I can go there when I need to.

What kind of dog is she?

She is a shih-tzu, 8 years old. A real Czech girl from Budejovice! She is so smart and loving and the most amazing creature in the world. She quite often travels with me. I think she was a stewardess in a past life. She’s amazing except for this (starts brushing the hair off her dress).

What are your plans with your store for the future?

The store is going well. I have very good customers. Very interesting customers. I never make any big plans. I make plans for the next month and that’s all. Sometimes I work with customers who are involved with costumes for films and series. Some of my pieces are in the series The Borgias and also for the movie Snowpiercer , an American Korean film with Tilda Swinton that will be released this year. I love Tilda Swinton.

Me too! She is great.

There are quite a lot of Czech models, singers and celebrities that are now coming to the store too. They are so good.

And do you custom make things for people?

Sure! We are quite open. I have very good tailors. Mainly we do female clothes.

For more information on designs and other details, please refer to The Item website and Facebook.

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Puppet master Mirek talks about Czech marionettes

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From my childhood I can remember seeing a number of different puppet shows. From freakish horror movie mannequins that talk to local children’s productions in my primary school, there has never been a puppet that lacks intrigue for me. I even owned a cheap marionette for a few years. The Czech Republic has a long and rich tradition of puppets and Mirek and his carefully crafted creations have been a big part of it. The chance to sit down in the centre of Mirek’s workshop surrounded by puppets and torsos of all walks of life was certainly a memorable experience. Read the interview below for an inside look at a puppet master and his craft, and the fascinating past, present and future of this industry in the Czech Republic and Central Europe.

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Where are you from originally Mirek?

I moved to Prague at the age of 15 to study wood carving and art and craft. But I’m originally from Hradec Králové.

A nice city, and how did you get into the puppet industry?

With puppets I started at the age of 6. I was a visitor of a very good puppet theatre called Drak or Dragon in English. That was a big influence. In high school we did a lot of carving but I didn’t think about puppets until later when I studied at a theatre academy for puppet design. Now I also teach design at our workshops. I make them both for theatres and for shows. About 15 years ago, my wife Leah started to do workshops where people could learn the rich tradition of Czech puppetry. Then about ten years ago we started to work with the Hafan puppet film studio and have since developed quite unique and original animators for film animation, not to mention the professionals that we have also worked with there. The studio is now very well known and we teach a lot of foreign students the tradition of film puppet making in our workshops. These days, it’s mainly about a combination of theatre and film puppets.

How many teachers are in this field of puppets?

For marionette making workshops we have about 10 or 12 people working with us. 4 or 5 of them are wood carvers. We also have some people teaching manipulation – professional puppeteers. And we have professional painters and professional costume designers like Dana here (pictured). We also have puppet or theatre directors who make short shows with our students. Altogether the process involves drawing, cutting wood, carving, painting, stringing and manipulation.

There certainly are a lot of people involved. It seems like a big industry. Is there always something going on?

In some segments it’s easier. With film animation, if you have a budget you can have a job for two or three years, then one year without…. or 5 years without. You need to find other things to survive. With puppets and theatre, you can try to sell a show to them or perform with them. Yes, it’s hard but they must do what they can. It’s not an easy field right now sure. Probably a lawyer would be a better option! (laughs)

But without the creativity and the fun! Do you just make the puppets or are you also a puppeteer?

I’m not trained as a puppeteer. I studied puppet design. I also perform with Leah; we have made several shows but we don’t want to take jobs from professional puppeteers. Leah is performing with young kids in kindergartens or special workshops. We also organise small puppet festivals like Teatro Toch festival which is always on the last day of the summer holidays in Kampa.

How much does it cost to make an average sized puppet?

It can be around 8000-16000Kč. It depends on how carefully detailed it is carved and painted. And it also depends on costumes.

Do you have one that you think is your favourite?

Hmmm well right now we have some puppets here for the Snow White show. I like this bad queen a lot! She is special and has character.

And how does the Czech Republic compare to other countries?

Of course, we are the best! (laughs)

It wouldn’t surprise me, I’ve seen puppets everywhere here in Prague.

It is a central European tradition – especially the marionettes. Because of history when there was the nationalist movement in the 19th century, puppet theatre became very popular. It was the only cultural theatre performed in Czech.

The only one?

Yes, there was a movement of amateur puppet theatres and family theatres. At the beginning of the 20th century, every family had a puppet theatre in their home, but that was killed by TV.

I think a lot of people say similar things about TV. And where would you say this culture is heading for the future?

Jiří Trnka – he merged puppets in film using animation and that is going well. There are some professional film studios in Prague that have survived. Both film and advertising use puppets from time to time too.

And how did you meet your wife Leah? Did you meet through your work?

Yes, about 20 years ago. She moved just after the revolution to teach English but eventually moved to theatre because she worked in and studied literature and theatre in America. She combined education with theatre and puppets.

Which puppet would you make real if you could?

I think an angel.. That would be nice, no? Not a skeleton.

So your next workshop is specifically focused on skeleton puppets?

Yes, this Spring workshop is smaller than the big ones that we do in summer and focuses on acrobatic puppets used centuries ago, they are very special. It’s mainly for specialists. A lot of mechanisms and unique characters. For shows, the Wizard of Oz will be the next big one and the premiere will be on the 5th of April, around the same time that we’re doing the skeleton workshops. Then on the 1st of May we will have a film animation workshop.

What films or shows inspire you? How can someone get a good idea of the Czech puppet industry?

I think no one will make a mistake if they watch a Jiří Trnka film, these would be the best here. Hand won a lot of prizes, it was actually forbidden here in the Czech Republic.

It was forbidden? Why?

Because it was criticising Stalin’s dictatorship, but they let it be shown abroad and it did very well. And the Mechanical Grandmother also – very futuristic and very modern short film only 10 or 15 minutes long. You can find it online.

How would you describe Prague?

Puppets, puppets, puppets! (laughs) Also beer. A lot of interesting theatres, you just have to find them – they are a little bit hidden.

If you could go back in time and see anything, what would you choose to see?

It would be wonderful to see Prague and how it looked in the past. My son would enjoy a short trip to see the dinosaurs and I would definitely join him for that. So that’s only about 170,000,000 years ago.

Not very far back at all! What is your favourite thing to do in Prague on a Sunday?

Take a bike and ride somewhere. Maybe the river.

What are your plans for summer?

That’s our working season – three big workshops and the last one will be a theatre performance in a big festival. We will be working most of the time, but we might visit some friends in Ireland too.

Have you spent any time in the USA with Leah?

We usually go there once every two years to visit relatives and just stay there. We are in touch with a lot of puppeteers there and we also advertise our workshops in a magazine. A big part of our students come from the United states. We know the community quite well; it’s big and alive. They also have the Muppets.

Perhaps the most famous of all puppets! Mirek, thank you so much for your time. It’s been an absolute pleasure.

For more information on the upcoming workshops, visit the Puppets in Prague Facebook page or their website.

Written and transcribed by Ryan Keating. Photography by Petr Kurečka.

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Dawn talks about life on the sea and building a ‘hurdy gurdy’!

Last Friday afternoon, Petr and I spent some time with English expat Dawn, who stole our hearts with adventurous tales and photos of a life on the sea and a very quirky medieval musical instrument that has captured her curiosity recently… Dawn, it was an absolute pleasure.

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What brought you to Prague originally?

Well,  I didn’t want to go to Asia or Western Europe. I’d never been here before and I had some Czech sailing friends too. But the bottom line is, they gave me a job here.

Great, so you used to sail? Tell us about that.

Yes! For 20 plus years… We lived on a boat for 20 years and travelled around the Caribbean and the Mediterranean.

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I heard a funny story about a cat on your boat once? Tell us about that.

Yes, well that was in Spain, Cabo de Gata I think. It was a tomcat that we rescued from some other cats. It would sit on my lap on the boat and just knead and claw at my legs. And you know, do cats do that horny thing that dogs do? You know when they hump your leg?

I don’t know actually. I thought they just sprayed everything!

Anyway, it seemed to be humping my lap. That was the impression I got, so I told it to bugger off! And then it spat at me, scratched me and then pissed on my bed! (laughs)

Sounds like he did it on purpose! (laughs) Ok, and who were you travelling with?

My ex and later on the dog too – a Pyrenean sheep dog. Very cute.

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What do you miss most about this kind of life?

Just little things really, I suppose… The community spirit and constantly meeting new people was nice. And little things like rummaging through the bins, doing your dishes over the side of the boat (laughs).

So you teach English in Prague then?

I do and I like it a lot.

What would you say your favourite English word is? You are actually English so I’m curious to know.

Well I know what it is in French, but not in English. And in French it’s ‘ronron’ which is an onomatopoeia for a cat purring. But in English? Hmmm.

I prefer words that are nastier actually.. Like ‘insidious’!

Ohhh yeah, that’s a nice word.

‘Vilify’! (laughs)

How would you describe Prague in adjectives?

Hmmm, ok gothic, magnificent, clean, quite clean, cozy. Ummm, I always think of dogs too (laughs). Dogs in coats during winter.

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So tell us about this interesting little project you’ve got going at the moment. You’re making a ‘hurdy gurdy’?

Yes! I first heard it from the hurdy gurdy man who was a bit of a travelling troubadour. So I went to his website and found that it is actually an old medieval musical instrument. Then I saw some clips on YouTube of all different sorts playing all different sorts of music and then of course I came across Jimmy Page playing one!

Great! And are you a Led Zeppelin fan?

I was yeah, absolutely!

And then I found that people were making them from scratch or making them from a kit. So I bit the bullet and ordered the kit!

Thatll be fun. And what about Summer? You usually go away, but you have stayed once, haven’t you?

Yes, the first year I stayed and worked on a farm in the country, but it was so bloody cold there! I also worked on a pig farm when I finished school years ago. Just for three months, I studied agriculture, you see.

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Wow! A pig farm! Ok, now it’s time for a bit of a random question, Dawn. If you could go back in time and see anything, what would you see?

I would’ve liked to have seen the volcano Mount Pelee erupt. The whole town was destroyed, and only one man survived, and that was a prisoner – poetic justice.

That’s fascinating.

NOT the Titanic though (laughs)

Yes, that’s a common one. What about celebrities or icons from history? Who would you love to meet?

My immediate thought would be someone like Darwin… but I’m not sure how interesting he would actually be. All of his observations and stuff were just so fucking boring! (laughs) Maybe the writer Christopher Hitchens or Richard Dawkins. And maybe for fun, Isadora Duncan. We could dance together! She was an actress/dancer and used to wear this long scarf and she went for a ride on a bucatti and her scarf got caught in the wheel and she died!

That’s a bit of an ironic death!

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And tell me are you going to stay in Prague or will you travel some more?

I don’t think I’ll go back to England. The pension is terrible there. If worst comes to worst – a caravan or a canal boat would be nice for the future.

That sounds like a nice plan, best of luck Dawn! Thank you so much for your time.

Check out incredibly open-minded blog: Random Tales and Stray Thoughts, which also includes a hilarious article on a new ‘female urinary device’. Read more about it here.

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Written and transcribed by Ryan Keating and photos by Petr Kurečka