• Vaclav Havel 5 October 1936 – 18 December 2011

    Václav Havel was an outstanding Czech playwright, humanitarian and dissident against the repressive communist regime.  In the velvet revolution of 1989 he was a leading figure. As someone often imprisoned and interrogated in Prague Castle (the Hrad) the students, gathered in their thousands in Wenceslas Square, demanded “Havel to the Hrad!” and so he was installed as first President of the “free” Czechoslovak Republic of 1990 and then later of the Czech Republic. I had the privilege of shaking his hand twice on Czech National Day in the Hrad and this will be a special moment for me in my life. Havel had a pan-European vision of a liberal, inclusive…

  • Waiting in the mine

    You know what a mine disaster is. In recent weeks we have had to read about one in the newspapers. The moment even the most courageous miner has dreaded his whole life long is here. It is no use running into the walls; the silence all around him remains. . . . The way out for him is blocked. He knows the people up there are working feverishly to reach the miners who are burried alive. Perhaps someone will be rescued, but here in the last shaft? An agonizing period of waiting and dying is all that remains. But suddenly a noise that sounds like tapping and breaking in the…