NEPRAKTA 1949–1970

Neprakta 1949–1970

Drawings with the signature "Neprakta" appeared on the pages of newspapers and magazines, books and even on television screens for half a century. They accompanied advice to married couples by Doctor Plzák and the popular stories and novels by Miloslav Švandrlík, who was also an author of comics and cartoons. The originals were relatively frequently displayed in galleries and exhibition halls, while reproductions hung above the workbenches of factory workshops, on metal locker doors and in the cabs of trucks. Particularly popular were the pictures of "bosomy nymphs", which Bohumil Hrabal called the original Czechoslovak pin-up girls.

Neprakta pictures became a part of pop culture, and their creator Jiří Winter (1924–2011) was a publicly known figure in the 70s and 80s due to frequent television appearances. Even by then however few people remembered that the Neprakta brand was originally the pseudonym of a pair of authors. Since 1949 it had included, along with Winter, writer and artist Bedřich Kopecný (1913–1972), who also came up with the peculiar "company" name. During nearly twenty years of productive cooperation, the first post-war tandem to focus primarily on producing cartoon humour published nearly ten thousand jokes. Kopecný generally came up with and sketched out the ideas, and then passed them on to his younger friend, a patient, extremely industrious and driven cartoonist, to finalise them for print. They chose the pseudonym at the time due to the problematic position Bedřich Kopecný found himself in at the beginning of the period's turbulent political and societal changes.

 

Interior of the Oriental Curiosities used goods shop, May 1942. The film weekly Aktualita is doing a report on the restoration of an oriental rug (Bedřich Kopecný is third from the left).

 

I. Before Neprakta

At the start of the German occupation, Jiří Winter was a fifteen-year-old grammar school student who was beginning to take an interest in antiques and exotic objects. In 1940 he discovered a shop with oriental curiosities on Karlovo náměstí, where the most intriguing specimen turned out to be shop clerk Bedřich Kopecný [1]. Winter began visiting the little shop in the Václavská pasáž regularly. He liked discussing Asian and North African art with his new friend, but he also shopped for old sabres and revolvers from him. His passion for collecting nearly became fatal when in the spring of 1944 he gifted an old French pistol from his collection to a friend who wanted to join the resistance. The whole affair was soon betrayed and the Gestapo arrested Winter and his parents, accusing them of stockpiling firearms. At court the youngster got off with a "mere" six-year sentence. He spent the rest of the war at a correctional facility in Bavaria, returning home to Prague in June 1945. He took over a glassmaking workshop from his father, who had died in the Pankŕac jail. While applying himself to this trade, he was torn between his penchant for drawing and his interest in science. He dealt with this dilemma by starting to attend lectures at the Charles University Faculty of Science and at the same time attempting to draw. The themes of his paintings and drawings were rife with his experiences from the last months of the war. Aside from guards watching over transports and portraits of his cellmates, the frequent motifs included still lifes with human and animal skulls. Some had symbolic meaning, while others were driven more by the interest of a biologist in morphology. Several studies of female nudes have also been preserved.

After the war, Winter also returned to his old hobby of collecting natural and artificial curiosities. As during the Protectorate he had lost everything he had collected while imprisoned in Bavaria, he began rebuilding his collection of old weapons and cult objects from all parts of the world. There was a unique opportunity for this in post-war Czechoslovakia. Valuables from the confiscated and stolen property of Jewish families and deported Germans were extremely inexpensive. Later, after the events of February 1948, the antiques market began to be supplied by what were called "former people" whom the new regime denied ration slips, so they had to procure funds by selling off their movable property [2].

While searching for antiques, Winter once again met his friend Kopecný, who after the war had joined the army as a member of the sappers unit. He was not one for long though. While destroying mines he suffered an injury that resulted in the definitive loss of his teeth. Kopecný was repeatedly hospitalised in a military hospital and then returned back to civilian life. In February 1948 he started writing essays for the National Socialist weekly Svobodný zítřek [Free Tomorrow], which also published political commentaries from ministers Drtina and Ripka, or texts by Bohuslav Brouk that took sharp issue with communist ideology.

 

Headline of article by Bedřich Kopecný in the weekly Svobodný zítřek, 1947.

 

Kopecný utilised his knowledge of the Arab world acquired while studying oriental art and reading travel books, and situated his pieces into the fictitious Abdulistan, a tiny desert country where people "speak of nothing other than politics" [3]. In transparent allegories he would speak out through the eloquent Sayyid Abdul about goings-on on the domestic political scene and international developments. He ironically commented on an endless string of conflicts and compromises of the "National Line", plans for building happy tomorrows and the propaganda activities of the "Dignitaryship of Truly Comforting True Information". Abdul's observations were funny, clever and poignant. He had no illusions about the selfless charity of Western democracies, nor about the true aims of the new ally to the east and the nature of its True Followers, willing to unleash a fratricidal struggle if the majority did not give in to their demands. Abdul occasionally also travelled beyond the borders of his small desert to attend a conference with the Emissaries of Enlightened Lands. Reports on the results of the talks, which he then related at the council of sheikhs, were not overly optimistic: "Each of them is selflessly interested in us, even though they wanted to turn our desert into sand. But I settled things on all fronts. Some they'll take, some we'll give them and some we'll probably lose, so we have nothing good to worry about." [4] By virtue of its mere location Abdulistan was predestined to have the other powers "resolve their conflicts, start their wars and try out their political and social inventions" on it. [5]

The emerging Cold War clearly announced itself in Czechoslovakia in mid-1947. At the start of July, the cabinet first unanimously decided that it will negotiate on the conditions of the economic aid being organised by the United States. Soon thereafter however a government delegation flew on a planned visit to Moscow, where the Soviet leaders forced a retraction of the preliminary consent to participating in the US-run project. Because the Czechoslovak political representatives saw friendship with Stalin's Russia as their sole guarantee of a safe and happy future, they accepted the Soviet ultimatum. With the refusal of the Marshall Plan, the ideological and political differentiation of two worlds in post-war Europe entered a new phase. While at the time the commentary in Svobodný zítřek only cautiously expressed concerns that the imaginary line between Europe's West and East "not widen through mutual reproaches, biased propaganda and even hatred into a true and dangerous chasm" [6], Abdul recommended with bitter irony building a metal "mashrabiya" to separate the destitute but proud followers of the Eastern teachings from the politically backwards affluents. Among the sixteen countries that ended up accepting the Marshall Plan, not one of them was found in the Soviet sphere of influence. In the meantime, Moscow's leaders renewed the activities of the Communist International, under whose leadership the Czechoslovak communists launched an "accelerated process towards a power monopoly" in the summer of 1947 [7]. The concentrated pressure of professional revolutionaries led to the well-known events in February of the following year.

Kopecný's last reports from Abdulistan came out the day before the ministers of three parties of the National Front tendered their resignations, which President Beneš ended up accepting, filling the freed-up positions according to Gottwald's instructions. The Communist Party had thus definitively taken control of the state apparatus.

 

Jiří Winter, New Year's card 1950, drypoint.

 

II. Founding of the "company"

The hard line that the communist policy took on in the second half of 1948 was to rid the new regime of all opponents and inconvenient persons. This ruthless process against "reactionaries" was made possible by the Act on Protection of the People's Democratic Republic [8], which significantly limited the constitutionally guaranteed freedom of speech. The remnants of class enemies, persons without permanent employment and especially all "professional detractors and inciters" were to be interned in forced-labour camps [9]. Among the tens of thousands of people hit by the new judicial practice was Bedřich Kopecný. Under a ruling by the state court in Prague, he was a threat to state security in that he had not reported to the competent authorities the relations that his acquaintance, barkeep Emil Vašek, had been keeping with an "agent of foreign international circles" [10]. It cannot be ruled out that this was an act of provocation on the part of the State Security authorities. All that can be inferred from the preserved judgment is that Kopecný had met with an alleged post-February emigrant who, upon returning to Prague, had attempted to make contact with members of the Czechoslovak Army. In light of the fact that Kopecný had left active service just a year after the war, he could not have provided anyone with any relevant information. Nevertheless he was sentenced to three months of prison in July of 1949.

Kopecný spent the autumn days before serving his sentence at his cottage in Klínec, where his friend Winter would visit him. We can only guess at what reasons led to them agreeing to produce cartoons under a joint pseudonym while debating the future at the end of October and beginning of November. Although Jiří Winter would recall sixty years later that they came up with Neprakta as an ironic reaction to the naming of new enterprises and manufacturing cooperatives Chemodroga, Druča, Vodotechna, Oděva and Obuna [11], the idea was Bedřich Kopecný's, as back in the summer of 1948 he had added a subtitle "Neprakta step" to a work of verse entitled Raketa [Rocket]. In connection with the planned attempt to publish cartoons in post-February print media, the special name was to express a "non-speculative" approach and above all to "protect the innocent" [12].

Though Winter would later characterise Neprakta as a "company", his collaboration with Kopecný would never have any legal foundation. It was based on a purely friendly, verbal agreement. Kopecný would generally come up with and sketch out the ideas, which Winter would then finalise. From the beginning the drawings were intended for publication, and only a few erotic themes ended up in the hands of private collectors.

 

Jiří Winter, Řekněte Á [Say "ah"], collaborative drawing, 220 × 190 mm, 1949.

 

After several unsuccessful attempts, their work was accepted by Svobodné slovo [Free Speech], the daily of the Czechoslovak Socialist Party. On a single page of the Sunday edition that was reserved for stories, puzzles and crosswords, Neprakta's first cartoon was printed on 20 November 1949. The small image presented a fire brigade watering flowers on the fourth floor of an apartment building. The printed caption informed readers that the girl in the window was "the commander's girl", and the drawing could be interpreted as a romantic scene with a slight air of absurdity. Similar situations were repeated in their further contributions. One was a giraffe sitting at a cafe table asking the waiter for an appropriately long straw; in another a professor was walking upside-down because his theories denied the existence of gravity.

 

Jiří Winter, unpublished drawing, 1951.

 

Neprakta's jokes influenced Lada's Ilustrovaná frazeologie [Illustrated Phraseology] [13] and similar plays on homonyms, polysemy and the metaphorical nature of language, which had spread from Trn (Thorn) [14] to a whole range of First Republic newspapers and magazines. Amusing absurdities and double entendres had also prospered on the pages of Protectorate-era press [15]. It was only in the new societal and political conditions of post-war Czechoslovakia that unbound joking had become the target of criticism. After periodicals had been declared national property that were to serve the needs of the whole and not the personal success of individuals, the dominant role fell to political satire and caricature. Though the other functions of humour were viewed with contempt, cartoons did not disappear altogether from the pages of newspapers and magazines even under the new, post-February state of affairs. They survived in Sunday sections and the funny pages of certain periodicals. They would sporadically appear in Dikobraz [Porcupine]. The December holiday issue of the satirical weekly even printed two miniature Neprakta pictures. An agreeable aspect of them is that, in contrast to the vast majority of the other pieces, they did not misappropriate St Nicholas for biased political commentaries.

At the end of 1949, the friends both drew New Year's cards. Winter made a somewhat disturbing combination of a hermaphrodite juggler with skulls, portrayed from various angles, while Kopecný made an optimistic expectation of his impending return from prison. In January of 1950, Kopecný began working at the Zdeňek Fierlinger Mine in Vinařice near Kladno, where a labour department falling under the Pankrác court prison had been set up the previous year. In light of the fact that he was classified under disciplinary Class II, he was allowed to own watercolour paints and writing implements. He could draw, paint and once every four weeks write a letter. In one of these letters he praised his sister Marie [16] for diligently drawing, and himself expressed the intention to paint. He did end up making several watercolour studies in the underground corridors. He also invited his friend Winter to come visit and paint in the mine shaft, also advising him of the fastest and simplest way to get into the Kladno mines: signing an application for one day of voluntary work. This environment did not appeal to Winter in any way however, so no joint painting, to say nothing of mining, work ever took place.

 

Bedřich Kopecný, watercolour from Kladno mine, 150 × 105 mm, 1950.

 

Kopecný was not exactly fascinated by his new environment either. He nevertheless applied for a long-term voluntary placement after his sentence had ended and spent another six months in the ore mine in Mníšek pod Brdy. The reason for this was likely the need to improve his political profile. Voluntary placements were considered evidence of "political maturity and a positive relationship to the people's democratic establishment" [17]. Midway through 1950, the "company" Neprakta made contact with the editorial board of the Slovak humour and satire bi-weekly Sršeň [Hornet]. The magazine was an analogue to Dikobraz, printed on rather poor quality paper and usually just in black-and-white; only the cover and several pages were done in "iris" or "rainbow" print from a single cartridge. Its main focus was caricatures of Western "warmongers" and members of the discredited classes, in particular former factory owners and "rural rich". A bit of old-fashioned fun only showed up in the more relaxed atmosphere at the end of the year. At the request of the editors, Neprakta provided a whole series of jokes before the Christmas holidays with a Christmas tree theme: fruit ripening on the Christmas tree of a Michurinian agrobiologist, the spruce of a future innovator decorated with all kinds of tools, and instead of tinsel, one tree was wrapped in a grandfather's silver beard.

 

Jiří Winter, Vánoční stromeček budoucího zlepšovatele [Christmas tree of a future innovator]. Sršeň, Vol. VI, no. 22, 15 January 1951.

 

Aside from these jokes, there was also a cartoon of the West Germany hockey players, whose sticks were formed into a swastika. The topic of the abortive de-Nazification of Germany had drawn considerable attention in the countries of the Eastern Bloc since 1949, when the new government of the Federal Republic of Germany had taken over the "cleansing process" from the Allied Forces and pushed for rehabilitation of citizens convicted in the first post-war years for active participation in the Nazi party [18].

 

Jiří Winter, Sportovní pozdrav západoněmeckého hokejového mužstva [A sports greeting from the West German hockey team]. Sršeň, vol. VI, no. 22, 15 January 1951.

 

Cartoon humour and satire numbered among the first, but not the only products of the "company" Neprakta. From the start of the 50s, Kopecný and Winter also prepared riddles, puzzles and images where readers had to find the factual errors for the Sunday issue of Svobodné slovo: shadows cast towards the sun, improperly drawn details of animal bodies and boat sails billowing against the direction of the boat's movement, etc. These were essentially old, tried-and-true fun formats from pre-February youth magazines, tainted by a massive campaign for building a new socialist culture according to the Soviet model. For this reason, instructions for assembling a bike stand, water clock or protective book cover were joined by a manual for making a Ded Moroz figure or a model Pioneer "wall newspaper" with a hidden message in the pictures of a flower, arrow and two crayfish spelling out "To greater work" [19].

There was little work for humorists in the early 50s. The state rather needed a large number of workers to mine uranium, which went directly to the Soviet Union. Bedřich Kopecný also became one of the forced labourers digging uranium ore in the summer of 1951. We do not know how he earned the attention of the authorities at the time. The only certain thing is that he was assigned by ruling of the District National Committee in Prague 2 on the basis of a decree of general labour obligation for a one-year placement at the uranium mine in Bytíz near Příbram. After he stopped providing ideas for cartoons, Jiří Winter started looking for other work. He found some very soon and established himself as an illustrator of technical and scientific publications. Though he had primarily taken an interest in biology since his high school studies, and in his own words did not have much of a relationship to engineering [20], he endeavoured every time to produce a factually correct depiction of the given matter. in the years 1952 to 1955 he drew graphs and instructional images for books by Russian authors on motorless flight, lead-acid batteries and marching. He also illustrated the first post-war manual for dog owners [21] and a book about bees by the Stalin Prize winner I. A. Khalifman [22]. On both these latter jobs he worked using live models. He even studied the anatomy of bees under a microscope and produced a number of precise illustrations that brought him the reputation of a careful observer with a great sense for detail. He was also an adroit cartoonists, however, able to work quickly and without corrections. Such a talent could not only be put to use in newspapers, but also on television, which began test broadcasting on May Day 1953. Winter's work – illustrations to the parody song on Don Špagát's band of thieves [23] – found its way onto television screens in the very first year the Prague studio was in operation. It will likely be impossible to verify this information [24] because the records of the vast majority of programmes from that period have not been preserved. Winter also drew the notification for when the station was having technical problems for Czechoslovak Television. He allegedly received a fee of forty crowns for the image of an angry man about to chop his television with an axe [25] [26]. According to the Czechoslovak Television magazine, the drawing would then appear on screens more than five thousand times over the following thirty years. It thus holds the record, evidently not even broken by Karel Svolinksý's illustrations for Nedělní chvilka poezie [Sunday Moment of Poetry].

 

 

You can read the continuation of Bedřich Kopecný and Jiří Winter's story in Pavel Ryška's book
Neprakta 1949–1970. Prvních 20 let firmy na výrobu kresleného humoru [NEPRAKTA 1949–1970. The first twenty years of the "company" for producing cartoons], which was put out for the eponymous exhibition by the Cheb Gallery of Fine Art.

 

Cover for the publication NEPRAKTA 1949–1970. Prvních dvacet let "firmy" na výrobu kresleného humoru [NEPRAKTA 1949–1970. The first twenty years of the "company" for producing cartoons]. Graphic design by Anymade Studio.

 

[1] According to his work card he was employed at the shop as a conservator and expert in oriental art and rugs.

[2] Michal Kamp, Podnikatelské rodiny v Německém Brodě 1850–1950 [Entrepreneurial Families in Německý Brod 1850–1950] (master's thesis). Masaryk University in Brno, Faculty of Arts, Institute of History. Brno, 2009.

[3] Abdulovo setkání na poušti [Abdul's Meeting in the Desert]. Svobodný zítřek, vol. 3, no. 21, 22 May 1947, p. 10.

[4] Abdul na mírové konferenci [Abdul at the Peace Conference]. Svobodný zítřek, vol. 3, no. 12, 20 March 1947, p. 6.

[5] Bouře nad územím Abdulistanu [Storm over Abdulistan]. Svobodný zítřek, vol. 3, no. 27, 3 July 1947, p. 10.

[6] Vladimír Ráž, Rozdělená Evropa a vyhlídky [A Divided Europe and Outlooks]. Svobodný zítřek, vol. 3, no. 27, 17 July 1947, p. 1.

[7] Karel Kaplan, Národní fronta 1948–1960 [The National Front 1948–1960]. Prague: Academia, 2012, p. 26.

[8] Act No. 231/1948 Coll., 8 October 1948.

[9] Act No. 247/1948 Coll., on Forced Labour Camps, 25 October 1948.

[10] Judgment of the State Court in Prague. Document from the estate of B. Kopecný.

[11] Winter – Kopecký 2012: 35

[12] Kopecný was alluding to the persecution to which he was subjected at the start of the 50s in an interview entitled "Half of Neprakta confesses". Průkopník [Trailblazer], district newspaper of the Communist Party, vol. VII, no. 46, 17 November 1966, p. 1.

[13] Lada, Josef. Ilustrovaná frazeologie a přísloví [Illustrated Phraseology and Proverbs]. Prague: Fr. Borový, 1924.

[14] A "satirical student magazine" that came out from 1924 until 1932.

[15] On the use of cartoon humour for Nazi propaganda see Karlíček – Mohn 2013: 177–214.

[16] Marie Kopecná was a dancer at the Grand Operetta in the 40s. Later she worked as a phaser and colourist at Short Film.

[17] From the conditions for incoming workers at the Jáchymov Mines, February 1950.

[18] "As early as 1950 the restrictions were lifted on people 'burdened by the past' and even for those who had been named as the main culprits. During this extensive rehabilitation, a number of those previously let go or those who were not re-hired after the war returned to their professions. No replacement of the elites thus took place in the west of Germany." Christiane Brenner, Německé vzpomínání na minulost. Debaty o nacismu a druhé světové válce [German Recollections of the Past. Debates on Nazism and World War II]. Dějiny a současnost [History and the Present], 2005, no. 4, p. 14–18.

[19] Vtipná nástěnka pionýrů [A Funny Pioneer Bulletin Board]. Svobodné slovo, 27 September 1959.

[20] Jiří Winter – Jaroslav Kopecký, Tučná linka černou tuší aneb Nepraktycké vzpomínání [A thick line of black ink, or Neprakt-ical recollections]. Prague: Epocha, 2012, p. 89.

[21] MVDr. Koller, Jan. Kynologická příručka [Cynological Guide]. Prague: Naše vojsko, 1953.

[22] Khalifman, I. A. Včely [Bees]. Prague: Mladá fronta, 1955.

[23] The Stirring Song of the Exceedingly Cruel Leiberhauptmann Don Špagát. A series of twelve colour drawings made in 1953. Winter likely knew the subject matter from Smetana and Václavek's anthology České písně kramářské [Czech Cantastoria Songs], which came out under the Fr. Borový publishing house in 1937.

[24] Jiří Winter – Jaroslav Kopecký, Tučná linka černou tuší aneb Nepraktycké vzpomínání. Prague: Epocha, 2012, p. 50.

[25]According to the data of the Czechoslovak Republic Statistical Yearbook from 1958, which lists retail food prices following the currency reform in 1953, this amount would have bought just under a kilogram of butter.

[26]Jiří Winter – Jaroslav Kopecký, Tučná linka černou tuší aneb Nepraktycké vzpomínání. Prague: Epocha, 2012, p. 52.

 

Bedřich Kopecný: Abdul recommends a metal screen, 1947

For the people only something unbelievable and terrible counts as news. But after every event they immediately end up finding that something similar has already happened, which leads to the impression that since creation from dust and a few drops nothing much has happened. Ordinary people are truly only interested in the present, and in the future at most a few sleeps away.

"So, what's new?" the people asked Abdul when, after fulfilling double his daily work allotment, he sprawled out for a noon "kef" – rest. "Nothing. Just battles, famines, floods, fires and inventions. And preparations for jihad – holy war; but analogues of those have been around since the world began. There is also much talk of something in vogue, called ishtirakiya – socialism. It has been emerging since the time that we realised that people are smart and stupid, moral and unbridled, industrious and lazy, brave and cowardly, peaceful and radical, strong and weak. It is an attempt to balance things out. Sometimes it is proclaimed by people who want to share and help the poor. Other times it arises from injustice. And sometimes it is led by many who are neither smart, moral or industrious. – Never fear," he said to put the people at ease, seeing some begin to look about, "I am speaking of abroad. About a country where all the parties resolved to socialism. And one – Allah is beneficent – was joined by so many people that it was the strongest. So it ruled. It made excuses and covered up for natural troubles, and prided and praised itself on necessary improvements. The vizier of information, or the nazir dyaaya – minister of propaganda, announced that soon prosperity would be intolerable. Everything got cheaper, so that for the amount of wages that would have previously bought a pair of sandals, it was possible to repair those sandals. Clothing could be procured for half a year's wages and would last at least until the next half-year wages. Earnings were sufficient for everything. Either for a dwelling with furnishings, or for books, music and other culture, or for drinking wine and Yemeni tobacco Hemmi, or for food, or for a dancer, or for a child. Thus nine satisfied workers could pool their funds to provide a tenth with proper board and lodging, culture, leisure and a son. The highest and lowest surrounding work had large salaries. The real producers of education and the organised and industrious workers received only enough for socialism to survive."

"And how did it turn out?" asked the congregation without interest.

"Once very well. Many of those who joined the party in search of impunity were discovered, many cowards who merely wanted to follow the expected trend were seen through…"

But the people were no longer even listening to Abdul, whispering to each other: "Something is up if he's blathering on like this." Merely out of respect somebody asked: "And what is this socialism?"

"I just told you," replied Abdul impatiently. "There are various kinds of socialism. It can be a teaching with the motto – Brotherhood in justice and ideals! Or religious – Love thy neighbour! Also a policy – Prosperity to the people and nation! Or an order – let each live! For those who haven't understood socialism it is a rhetorical science with countless mottos of the type – Honour to the hard work of others!"

Suddenly he was interrupted by a shout of "rrhee!", by which someone outside forced a camel to kneel. A messenger also appeared, brining a report to Abdul. "What is happening?" the curious people asked and arose. Bringing his fingers together Abdul made the "esma" – a gesture of attention, and announced: "It was about the building of an iron mashrabiya – a screen."

"And will it be built?" the uncomprehending listeners inquired. "It was a plan for global aid," expounded Abdul. "Imagine that some powerful countries are rich pashas. And they offered the destitute nations – the poor – that they would take them into a kind of service, where they would be well off."

"Allah, alla, el hamdu lillah – praise be to God," the people cheered.

"I wonder at you," Abdul stopped them. "They are Bedouin and Tuaregs, whose children are dying of hunger, and yet they refused this aid. Is it not admirable to choose hardship and misery rather than endanger the teachings and plans of the sheikhs?"

"We don't care," grumbled the people. "First let us be fed, clothed and well off, and then give us teachings."

"Your utilitarianism disgusts me. Your narrow-mindedness too. A small nation is the subject of great politics. For us there were two options: Take an interest in the employment, but play hard-to-get, making proud conditions and acting so that pashas realise what a favour we are doing them by accepting something. Then we would have at least indicated that it could work if it worked – like at past conferences."

"Allah yisaillimak – God forbid that any Adherent cause this misfortune!"

"What misfortune?" said Abdul, offended. "We took the second option and refused outright!"

"O, yazik, ya satir," the people wailed. "It's that metal mashrabiya then!" "Of course, fools who worry only about plans for a comfortable, peaceable life. It shall be a screen protecting us proud ones, destitute based on the teachings, from those backwards affluents."

"But a screen," chimed in an old man who often spoke inappropriately, "as I know it from a harem, has many holes and even a window for serving food. Through that we could trade with other socialists." "Teachings for food," scoffed Abdul. "Tell me they are thinking about it."

"We are unhappy," complained the people. "Foreign nations are constantly forcing good and freedom upon us. What are we to do?" "Pray. In today's politics that is the only means."

Bedřich Kopecný, Abdul doporučuje kovovou zástěnu (Abdul recommends a metal screen). Svobodný zítřek, vol. III, no. 29, 17 July 1947, s. 10.