Wednesday 23 May 2012

Lennon vs Lenin

The Lennon wall in Prague goes back to 1980, shortly after Lennon’s murder, when young Czechs painted an image of him, along with some political graffiti and Beatles lyrics, in a recess in this garden wall that backs a 14th century churchyard belonging to the Knights of Malta …

Western pop songs were banned at the time by Communist authorities, and expressing anti-government sentiments was a dangerous business carrying the risk of imprisonment.

But despite repeated whitewashing by the police, they never managed to keep the wall clean. It became a political focus for dissenting Prague youth, an outlet for exposing injustices ... this despite its location in this quiet, well-heeled embassy district of Prague …

French Embassy, directly opposite the Lennon Wall, and the Mala Strana canal, around the corner

Lennon marches that started to take place on December 8th, the anniversary of John’s death, gradually became linked to Human Rights Day protests (December 10th), the early marches developing into running battles with armed police – in a movement ironically dubbed Lennonism – up until Czechoslovakia’s Velvet Revolution.

Today the Lennon Wall has lost its counter-culture edge and original spirit as a forum for political dissidence. The graffiti is often inane, most likely to be added by the thousands of Western tourists who visit it each year to have their photo taken in front of it ...

My daily routine in Prague last week took me past the Lennon wall at least four times a day - which is how I discovered first hand the extent to which this is an evolving work in progress. Each day as I walked past, some image or piece of graffiti I remembered from the day before had been painted over, and occasionally I saw an artist in action ...

Mostly I pondered on the wall and its history right around the corner, at  the lovely Cukrkavalimonada (can you pronounce that? I can't, but it means sugar, coffee, lemonade) ...

CukrkavalimonadaLazenska 7, Mala Strana, Prague

... coffee and pastry being one of the best ways I can think of to put the world to rights.


  1. Prague looks like a really beautiful place - portrayed beautifully. I think I would have liked to see the original version of the wall. BB

  2. Karen, when we next have the opportunity to sit down for coffee, I would so enjoy talking with you about this wall and more about your time in Prague.

    Did you ever see the Tom Stoppard play Rock 'n Roll? I was lucky to see it when it played on Broadway. Won't say more about it here.

    Best wishes. xo

  3. If coffee and pastry can't do it, there's no hope at all.
    But I believe they can --- at least bit by bit, cup by cup, pastry by pastry.
    Go to it!

  4. WOW WOW WOW!!!!
    where have I been?
    Honestly my socks are going on strike!
    You keep knocking them off Karen and they're fed up :(
    Simply gorgeous post!

  5. PS
    I have NEVER been to Prague :(
    But if I lived in Paris...
    yr post makes me want to go!!


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