>Grey days in the Czech Republic


I am on the road in the Czech Republic , or rather on the rails – travelling by tram and train – using some study leave and a small grant to do some research on interest groups representing pensioners. It is an unresearched field – indeed, apart from a lot of literature on the American AARP and to a certain extent on the Canadian and Swedish senior movements – there is not a lot even on West European cases. Perhaps a little too under-researched then.

Today I am in Brno. I used to live here, so I know the city reasonably well, although the tram routes have been confusingly changed and it seems impossible to get a cheap cup of coffee anywhere in the city centre. Social policy and social security seem to be the flavour of the month in the Czech Republic just now: the Social Democrats are taking over in the regions rolling back prescription charges wherever they go, sometimes in coalition with the Communists, sometimes with newly pragmatic local Civic Democrats and sometimes alone, but with a little help from the Communists.

The weather is grey and autumnal. Three fully kitted out ice hockey players walk through the city centre, but no one bats an eyelid. I get the tram back to where I am staying to type up my research notes and listen to the man in front complaining that he bought a second hand mobile and the girlfriend of the previous owner keeps ringing him up by mistake.
Tomorrow I go to Hradec Králové.

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