Thursday, May 5, 2011
It's time to get to work. At 8 am, I meet with Antonin (Tony) Koci and Magdalena Potmesilova of Mlada Fronta, my publisher. They brief me about the national TV show, called CT24, on which I will appear this morning at 10:10. The show is the equivalent of America's morning shows, and my segment will be ten minutes long. The station sends a taxi which whisks Sue and me to one of Czech TV's several buildings. Butterflies in my stomach are dancing a Czech polka while the make-up lady makes a futile attempt to make me beautiful. I'm wired and escorted to the studio. My hostess is a blond woman named Patricie Strouhalova. We sit behind a curved desk, with my book standing between us, its cover facing the camera. Suddenly, the red light goes on and Strouhalova begins speaking. I listen to her announcing the next segment in Czech, while an interpreter's calm voice is repeating her words to me in English. I find it distracting. It would be much better if my hostess were speaking a language foreign to me; I wouldn't be listening to both voices. I am asked to speak about my life and about the book. I'm o.k. and think that I handle the questions well until Strouhalova throws me a curveball. Opening my book to a page with a photo showing my father in a British army uniform in Tobruk, Lybia, she asks me about the current war in that country. I recover and give a bland answer. After that, the rest of the show is a blur -- and then it's over. I sit and stare into the camera until the red light goes off. I remember an old adage: any publicity is better than no publicity.
In the afternoon, I am interviewed by transplanted Englishman David Vaughan for an English-language program on Czech Radio 7, Prague. The show is taped, so I relax, knowing that any screw-up can be deleted.
In the evening, Sue and I walk to the Hotel Pariz (Paris), where I speak to the Rotary Club of Old Town. All but one Rotarian speak English, so I give the story of the book in my second language. Then I surprise the audience by reading a piece from my book in Czech. I stumble occasionally, but the Rotarians are kind and compliment me on "such great pronounciation." I stay after the meeting to sign books. As we head back to the hotel in a light drizzle, I'm happy to have gotten through the first day and feel confident that I can handle the upcoming challenges.
[The TV program begins at 52:25 of http://www.ceskatelevize.cz/ivysilani/10101491767-studio-ct24/211411058060426/ ]