Twenty years ago this year we started the Bridgwater Czech Slovak link with an official twinning between Bridgwater and Uherske Hradiste. Ten years ago we celebrated a decade of links and now it’s twenty. Oh how time flies.
So in September 2012 we took a small group over to the Czech Republic. Only the secretary (‘for life’ it seems) was on the original trip. Which is a good thing – as it means time hasn’t quite stood still. Well, of course in Uherske Hradiste it has because that’s where the other original member of our 1992 pioneering jaunt has cemented himself for these past twenty years. Andrew ‘call me Trolleyman’ Napthine has been a fixture on the UH scene ever since. As the man who taught the Czechs to call their own town ‘UH’ and the man who invented ‘walking into traffic without your glasses on in order to improve your eyesight’, he has been sadly missed, not only in Bridgwater but by numerous oncoming juggernauts.
|Ondrej put’s in some pre match training with the team|
Anyway, he’s still there. So get your motors running and head out on the highway.
This time we had a daft mix of footballers, and Labour party members plus a few general tourists. So the programme was complicated enough as the events didn’t always quite match up.
In Prague the footballers played against Partisan Prague- a team of multinational emigres – and lost 13-3 while the socialists went to visit the offices of the CSSD (Czech Labour party). Playing in floodlights ,on astroturf and with a black ball, we not only were outclassed but outgunned as our star sweeper Jon Moore was carried off injured after only a small portion of a kickabout.
|Ondrej appreciates a ‘slim fit’ suit when he sees one|
Everyone met up however later that night for a rollicking good evening with our lovely Prague friends at a bar in Holesovice where the famous ‘Ctirad and his musical assassins’ pounded away through a mix of Czech and Brit ditties . The Czechs sang along, the Brits locked themselves in an anti social cupboard.
Taking a train to Uherske Hradiste through hitherto unheard of sunny weather, we arrived in Moravia in time for the wine festival. Only the Moravians could come up with the idea of a ‘wine and open monuments’ festival….what better time to open up all the museums with their precious artefacts than in the middle of a wine festival when everyones off their heads.
|20 years of twinning commemorated in UH town hall|
Our twenty years also coincided with UH company Altechs 20th anniversary and so superboss Antonin Machala threw a party for his workers. And us. cimbal music clashed with the heavy rock of Argema and wine, beer and slivovice collided with the thinly lined stomachs of the Brits. Some of whom consequently collided with each other .
As for the football it was a bit more evenly balanced with a hard fought game against Altech ending only 6-4 to the Czechs. This time we had some Spanish people to help us. Sergio and Consuela were excellent -despite Sergios ominous email name ‘i am the fat man’ and Consuela wearing a dress. The game was close and it was only because the Czechs were better that they won. Another year, another goal for the fat councillor. This time with a flying banana kick from 30 yards. Well, whose writing this thing anyway….
|Granter and Tichavsky-20th Anniversary Mayors|
Mayor of Bridgwater Graham Granter had flown in specially to Bratislava for the 20th anniversary and joined the parade on the saturday along with the other twin towns-many of whom we now also have good links with – Priverno in Italy and Sarvar in Hungary.
4 good value Bridgwater town councillors all making the journey to UH (at their own expense we add) to support the 20th anniversary – Cllr Mick Lerry, Cllr Ian Tucker (who carried the flag throughout, a bit like he did during his naval days, just before he gave that famously innapropriate signal at the battle of Jutland ‘all back to my place for the box set of Eastenders’), Cllr Granter -the Mayor with his Mayoress Kay and Cllr Smedley , to add a bit of glamour to the occaision, were accompanied by a near complete set of pseudo dignatories , or maybe dignified pseuds, from the central committee of the Czech Slovak Friendship Society -Chairman ‘Nice but Tim ‘Mander, treasurer & third and least known chuckle brother Simon ‘not mental in the slightest’ Hann.
|Bridgwater leads the way (well, we were in front)|
Sitting in the main square within axe murdering distance of Czech PM Necas, the Bridgwater delegation sat back and enjoyed the display of early morning folk costumes and dancing and singing instead. The wine and cheese festival is a bit similar to the Bridgwater carnival, except they hold it a sensible time of the year when there’s good weather and they don’t black up as Mexicans.
Essentially every village in the region turns up in their traditional folk costumes (pretty much all the same, knee length leather boots and sequinned blouses- so a bit like carnivoo) and start drinking at 7 in the morning. Swings and roundabouts really.
20 years of twinning between the 2 towns . It only seems like yesterday. But that’s insomnia for you.