The town crier

Trip Start Aug 27, 2012
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Slovakia  , Banskobystrický,
Thursday, September 13, 2012

People start early here. Apparently, most Slovaks are up by 4.30 a.m., at work by six and home by four. Some pubs - yes, pubs - even open at 7 a.m.! This is probably a throwback to the old days when you had to get up early to work on the farm, etc., but I think it is time to move on.

Last Saturday morning, for example, Jane was awakened at 4 a.m. by a repetitive thumping noise that continued for about half an hour. She found out later that it was the neighbour tenderising meat so that she could make schnitzel. At 4.30 on a Saturday morning, for goodness sake.

Anyone still asleep at 8 a.m. (which I think is probably just me) is likely to have their slumber rudely interrupted by the staticky music that blares out from the loudspeakers positioned on every street corner, followed by the day's announcements.

These speakers, which are a feature of most Slovak towns, were originally installed after the Second World War by the communists as a way of spreading the "people's news" and telling everyone how good things are going at head office. According to Jane's mum, announcements back in the day might be for something like a request for "volunteers" to come and help construct a local building or whatever.

Nowadays, with the need for propaganda greatly diminished, the speakers are still put to good use just about every day. Typical examples include news that an elderly villager has finally passed on, followed - with equal gravitas - by an announcement that lettuce can be purchased for an excellent price at the town square.

Yesterday we were informed excitedly that someone's sheep had gone missing and if anyone sees it wandering past their front gate, please phone the owner.

Today's news is terribly exciting: a special delivery of chocolate has arrived in town and is available jolly cheap for one day only. So important is this news, in fact, that it is repeated twice more during the day, just in case any chocoholics missed it the first two times.
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