Posted by: Lisa Hill | February 28, 2021

Perth Festival: Richard Fidler, and The Golden Maze

This weekend, I’m catching up with ‘watch at home’ tickets I had for the Perth Festival.  This session was hosted by Perth ABC radio presenter Geoff Hutchison in conversation with Richard Fidler, talking about his book The Golden Maze, a biography of Prague.

Hutchinson’s first question took Fidler back to the Grand Hotel Europa and 1990 when the Velvet revolution took place.  The Berlin Wall had come down and Fidler went to investigate this bloodless revolution, led by a writer called Václav Havel.  There was exultation in the streets and the people were very proud of what they had achieved.  This was the catalyst for his interest in Prague.

(I have a colleague who was travelling in Europe when the Wall came down, and when he returned to work, he brought a small piece of concrete to show us.  I have never forgotten that small symbol, and his storytelling from that day. I envied his sense of being there when history was made.)

Fidler told a number of stories in response to Hutchison’s questions, but—it seems a strange thing to say about a professional broadcaster—he seemed a bit rushed and rather discursive.  He was not the calm and thoughtful interviewer who we are used to hearing on Radio National.  He seemed to revel in telling some bloodthirsty tales (a feature I’d noted in his Saga Land) and there was a sense of anti-climax each time he told some anecdote and then concluded by saying that none of it was true.  Hutchison did ask Fidler about this, and the topic of national mythologies becoming true was explored a little, but it had come too late in the session to be dealt with properly.

I’m not criticising Hutchison, but this session would have been an ideal opportunity for a Prague insider who knows the city well.

Thanks to the organisers of the Perth Festival for making this session available.


  1. Timely! I am reading this book now – it is hypnotic.


    • Do you know Prague? It’s still on my bucket list.

      Liked by 1 person

      • On mine too. Mr Gums went there in the early 70s before I met him but I haven’t been to much of Eastern Europe at all.


        • Neither have I. We could have added on to our trip to Russia but The Spouse was already taking time off from university so we had to keep it short.


  2. No, unfortunately we ran out of time – but it is also on my bucket list so maybe one day…


  3. :)


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