The Garden Party
Of course, I don't want to imply that I rejected the sponsors. In fact, there was a smorgasbord of delicious food, provided by the best hotels in Prague. I was told that the food was one of the best reasons to go to this party - my informants hadn't lied.
My personal interest was the music. Where, I wondered, would they get a full military band? It turns out that there are enough people in Plzeň who still remember fondly the American liberation of that city that they still send a Czech military/pensioner band to celebrate every year. They were pretty good except for horridly out-of-tune clarinets. The more out of tune they became, the happier the conductor looked. I assume he was taking advantage of the free beer provided by the Herold brewery (even though it wasn't Pilsener Urquell).
The highlight of the party (at least for me and the people I was hanging out with) was the chance to meet Václav Havel. I am still kicking myself for not asking to get a personal photo with him. Oh well, live and learn. You will have to settle for this paparazzi shot instead.
Let it be said that I've never had much of a talent for garden parties. And this was no exception - I talked with people I knew and had a few mixed drinks (hey, they were free). But I can be drawn in by a bit of pomp and circumstance (more here). I suppose I should go on about something more substantive, but I'm not sure that I have the words at the moment. At least nothing that wouldn't end up in a confused mess and a lot of academic jargon which I'm trying to avoid at the moment. I was just trying to imagine what it would have been like if it really had been an absurdist drama (one of Havel's first successful plays was called The Garden Party), but that would've just been, well, absurd.
So, while I collect my thoughts, "Go Germany . . . and Portugal!"