Wednesday, 13 July 2011

No Smoking in the Czech Republic, by the way...

Apart from incredible debt, the one thing which unites EU member states is its no-smoking policy. I'd even go as far as to say that the success of a country's  candidacy depends more on its willingness to demonise smokers than proving it can balance its books. Take the Czech Republic, for example. Anything which even only looks like a public building is covered with improvised No Smoking signs, many of them one-off attempts to copy the classic smoking cigarette in a red circle with a line through it. Karlovy Vary's north station is peppered with attempts to get this simple model right, with varying degrees of success, it must be added: some examples have no red circle at all, so even though the text exhorts you not to light up the picture implies that it's more than OK to do so. In fact, it looks like you're in a designated smoking area and some killjoy has written No Smoking on the wall just to annoy you. This wouldn't be so bad, but the fact is that the station is basically completely open to the elements, so we have people basically being told they can't light up in the open which is, in anyone's book, smoker or not, a gross infringement of civil liberties. The same goes for bus stops. They're all open, but a flimsy attempt at a roof seems to alter its status to that of public building, so no tar, thank you very much. I've now been a non-smoker for four months and I don't miss it one iota, in fact I now find the smell repulsive. Still, I can't help but find this authoritarian, totalitarian Brussels-fuelled intolerance to anything which doesn't fit into the unelected commission's worldwide socialist Common Purpose agenda more than vaguely worrying, I find it downright frightening. Right wingers will walk away from things they don't like; left wingers seek to have them banned. That is effectively the difference, yet it is always the left-wingers accusing the right of intolerance, whereas it is they who are the true fascists of the piece. So ultimately, the Czechs and everyone else in Europe have been happy to impose a blanket infringement of civil liberties in exchange for a bit of money. By the way: the only public building in Europe to possess a smokers' lounge is the European Parliament in Strasbourg, so what does that say about their hypocrisy? See where a simple riff can lead you?

Returning to Karlovy Vary station, the main platform roof is the classic wooden-slatted, inverted V with that raised crown so the steam can escape. The stansions are wrought iron. It's simple yet so beautiful and puts me in mind of the Central Station in Santiago de Chile, designed by someone called Gustave Eiffel who, apart from that and a little bridge in the Dordogne, built nothing of note.

 You think this is a joke, don't you?

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