I shook my head in disbelief. For reassurance I stopped the car, to fine-tune the station. It returned.
“This is Radio Vltava,” announced a male presenter in a slow, funereal voice. I immediately recognised the diction adopted on communist radio stations. I knew it well from having listened to them when I was young. This one was broadcasting from Prague and by some miracle of the long waves, it had travelled eight hundred miles, to become audible in London. The announcer continued: “The prime minister and the government of the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic have resigned.” Then the rustle of static drowned him out and the station faded away. My heart missed a beat. I was stunned by what I had just heard. This was the ﬁrst Czech radio broadcast I had ever heard in Britain and by incredible coincidence, it was announcing the end of the communist era in my homeland. What will happen next?
I sat in my car in shock. I should have laughed, been overjoyed, but I wasn’t. For several minutes I sat immobile, digesting the announcement. I was forty-five years old and had spent half of my life in exile in Britain. The communist party had wrought turmoil in my life. Its regime had forced me to emigrate. It had sentenced me to five years in prison. It had reached out to disrupt my family life in Britain. It had denied me the chance to say goodbye to my dying mother. Instead of feeling happy at its misfortune, I was overwhelmingly sad. I remembered the trauma of being torn from my family, my fears and loneliness in exile and my terrifying nightmares. I thought the perpetrators of my misery have resigned. The demons have flown.