29 April 2012

BCSA AGM 2012, talk and social

The Annual General Meeting of the British Czech and Slovak Association (BCSA) was a superb three-in-one event.

The evening started with the formal part, the AGM. As always there was no controversy, no motions from the floor and the Executive Committee was re-elected.

The highlight was Sir Michael's report on the previous year when he went through all the society's activities, the talks, the socials, the garden party, the annual dinner, the magazine, the writing competition, the charitable donation and the website.

I wrote the few words about the website and so introduced most of the audience to the word "retweet" for the first time.

Once the formalities were over we were treated on a talk on Prague, Past and Present by Ivan Plicka who was a member of the team charged with preparing city development plans from the 1950s to the 1990s.In his illustrated talk he explained how the city’s distinct quarters evolved, particularly since the fall of Communism.

I should have paid more attention beforehand and then I would have known how good the talk was going to be. Essentially he covered a favourite topic of mine (town planning) in relation to one of my favourite cities (Prague). I loved it.

Ivan explained how three factors had accidentally protected Prague's historical. Firstly it had no major disasters, e.g. fires, since 1571, secondly it was never the centre of commercial development and investment (unlike, say, London) and finally the Communist era inhibited change.

All this led to an Old Town that grew out gradually and gracefully to include new carefully designed areas.

The talk covered the development of housing, industry and transport and was thick with detail. There was a great deal of information all carefully absorbed by the packed house.

The evening closed with a social session that, if this was a conference, would be called a networking session. And that's what we did.

There were many people there that I knew, some for several years, and I skipped from one conversation to the next pausing only to pick up a fresh bottle of Pilsner Urquell.

I also managed to grab a few handfuls of peanuts that were to pass as my evening meal and kept me going until I got home and hand the traditional supper of cheese on toast.

As usual the conversations were ephemeral and the fact that they happened at all is far more important than the actual content.

There were so many people to talk to and so little time that it is just as well that the Garden Party is coming up in June.

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