Now, I’ve been on this planet too long and Christ knows I’ve been in Poland too long (I was promised 3 years in Katowice and then we’d move – I’m still waiting). And in my many moons here I’ve somehow mastered how to fit in. I’m so much part of the furniture here I’m literally, not actually literally though, invisible. I’m that manky lamp (I love lamp) in the corner your Ma bought 16 years ago that you’re too lazy to throw away because it’s still slightly useful and it keeps peoples eyes’ off the damp spot. Continue reading 10 Ways to Trick Poles into Liking You (Part I)
A while back some idiot friend of mine (why are you friends with idiots you ask) said, ‘Hey ho Spud, let’s hit a nightclub.’ I should have hit him, but I’m too cowardly and not of the correct body shape to be of a violent disposition. Continue reading The Loneliness of Nightclubs
Last summer Poland welcomed with open arms around 30,000 Irish football supports. It was a joyous occasion, warm weather, cheap food and booze and the single greatest reason I’ve given my friends back in Ireland to move to Poland, the amount of beautiful women (most of whom will do anything to land a westerner). Continue reading Paddy Vs. OLT Express
We arrived in Katowice on the Thursday. The wedding wasn’t until Saturday but I was assured that we’d be busy on Friday, staring out at the flatlands of Poland as we travelled by train for x amount of hours. I enjoy travelling by train. You can just sit back and relax and watch the world go by. Then again, my experience of travelling by train up to then was really just the odd journey between Wexford & Dublin. Polish trains, for as anyone who went to Euro 2012 will tell you, ain’t the luxury that Iarnród Éireann provide. You want a coffee? Bring a flask. Sandwich? Make it yourself. And if you need to use the bathroom well, then that’s a choice you’re going to have to live with for the rest of your days. Continue reading My First Polish Wedding…..Part II
So I’ve kind of been ripping on Poland recently and I’ve got to take a step back from it before Chairman Jarek and his moronic cronies set their skinhead dogs on me for having a sense of humour.
Let me regale you with a spiel, a two-part spiel that is. I hadn’t long being going out with my dziołcha (pronounced like – joe-ha) when she asked me to a wedding. Wahoo, a Polish wedding. Where is it, says I, Warsaw, Krakow, Wrocław….? Pretending that I knew where any of them actually were on the map. Nope, says she to me, it’s in a place called Lubaczów…it’s in the East of Poland, near the border with Ukraine. Banjo music plays in my head. Squeal like a pig boy. East Poland is wild country, it’s feckin’ bear country. Honestly, bear attacks aren’t uncommon. Wolves and lynx roam free and the people are suspiciously pale-skinned and cross-eyed. Think Leitrim, but better looking.
During Communism the Polish government forcible encouraged people to move to the cities to work in assembly-line factories, coalmines and other soul-destroying jobs. As we all know, donkeys everywhere will follow carrots on sticks and the border regions that Poland shared with Czechoslovakia, Ukraine, Belarus and East Germany became similar to ghost towns. Bears, wolves, lynx and wild hippies flourished. Indeed, these parts of the country were where criminals moved to because they knew the govt. wouldn’t be bothered following them. Hippies moved there for the same reason. And without people to hunt them, animals went at it like…err…..well, wild animals l guess.
So, I’m off to East Poland for a wedding. To say I was looking forward to it was an understatement. I’d been to Poland only once before at that time and had been to Krakow and Katowice and while the Poles will be the first to admit that they aren’t the most warm or friendly of people to strangers, once you cross their thresholds (it’s a bit like that vampire rule) the hospitality they show cannot be compared to any of Poland’s European neighbours. I was in my future mother-in-law’s house one evening when her neighbour came running in all flustered and breathless and asked for vodka, bread, sugar and milk as she’d run out herself and had guests over. The mother-in-law didn’t blink and literally emptied the fridge for her puffing and panting asthmatic neighbour. I need to ask her why she keeps sugar in her fridge next time I meet her though. Would that happen at home? Probably, but not in Dublin and no feckin way in Karwk where you’d be expected to pay back for a bag of sugar twofold plus a liquid ounce of angel tears and a horse steak.
I’d only heard rumours of what the goings-on at Polish wedding entailed. I’d heard a vicious untruth (at least I thought at the time it was one) that a bottle of vodka is bought for every single guest who attends, including the wee ‘uns. Gasp! I’ll drink pints till I can’t see, but back in those easy-breezy days of my mid-twenties a sniff of vodka would induce a fit of puking that Princess Diana or Kate Moss would’ve been proud of. Another one I’d heard was called ‘the bedding’ but I think the guy who told me had been reading Game of Thrones before it was cool to tell people they were reading Game of Thrones because they wanted to be the cool cats among fantasy nerds before the TV show was announced. Basically, at the end of the night the men surround the bride and the women surround the groom. The happy, drunk couple are hoisted into the air on some wicker seats and are lifted up to their spousal bedroom to exchange bodily fluids so as to, under the various made up gods, legalise the marriage. Along the way, people are encouraged to try to take items of clothing off them and sing some rude songs. Book hipsters are the worst kind of hipsters man. I’d almost believed him.
I found myself in a lock-in session one night in Searson’s pub on Baggot Street a few weeks before we were due to head off for the wedding. I cornered the only Polish man working there so I could find out some info about what was in store for me in Lubaczów. He told me to expect food, tons and tons and tons of the stuff. Meats, pickled herring, all manner of breads, roasted and smoked meat, cheeses, mad wild mushrooms, boar and homemade lard (magic stuff). More cakes than a baker’s orgy. And vodka, truckloads of that vile witch piss and something called bimber too, a Polish poitin but made from fruit instead of spuds, crazy eh? Seven different meals will be served during the day and you’ll have to go to the church, he says, they aren’t like Irish weddings, you’ll never want to go to another Irish wedding again.
At Polish weddings they play some party games, and for no reason at all people will burst into song and the whole room joins in. People can get a chant going and the couple have to kiss. You’ll eat and drink and dance. I’ve to dance? I asked. I’ve got a better left foot than James McClean, but it’s on my right side. I used to like dancing, but I remember as a young lad seeing people in their thirties and forties dancing and always thought they looked like day-release patients that were coming off their medication. It wasn’t for me, so as soon as my hair started thinning I ceased to dance. I wouldn’t want some jumped-up kid with high opinions thinking I’m some kind of crazed, balding lunatic.
“Man,” says my new Polish amigo to me putting his hand on my shoulder, “you gotta make sure of one thing at the wedding…..” My ears pricked like a dog had heard a bitch farting in the next room. “It’s a huge insult in Poland for a man to refuse a drink from another man. It’s huge man, whatever about the dancing and eating and everything else at the wedding, if you refuse a drink from someone you could find yourself in the deepest cesspool of shit, especially out in some backwater in the East, those people are wilder than the bears they wrestle with.” He looked me dead in the eyes when he said it. It was the most serious thing I’d ever heard from anyone up to that point in my life. I knew then I was in already in a deep cesspool.
Food, glorious food, something something and mustard!
Oliver the musical, a much better laugh than that miserable book by Dickens. Actually, everything Dickins ever wrote was pretty shagging miserable. Back in my school days of yore we had to read “Hard Times” and by Jaysus, if there’s one book that’s likely to send a lonely teenager even closer to thoughts of self-harming then we’ve found our winner here boys! Hip-hurrah.
There’s a saying here in Poland, it goes something like “A hungry Pole is an angry Pole.” And while I do honestly think that male Poles are certainly angry about everything all the time, a hungry one has the power to unleash wrath akin to when Genghis Khan had his cup robbed off him by the dumbest eagle in the history of all accipitriformes. The Poles do love their grub, apparently every country loves their cuisine. That simply cannot be true though, even the English don’t like their food. They hate it so much they put mint sauce on everything so their breath doesn’t stink after eating it.
Well, at least the male Poles love their food. Female Poles do not eat, well, they do but just not in public. They are known to consume a stick of celery, a small beetroot and the heart of a baby rabbit in the bathroom once per day. However, once the sustenance has been taken from the food in their stomachs they vomit it all up. Polish girls don’t poop either, they don’t need to. Their butts are only for two things: it’s where the sun shines out of………..and something ruder.
For a Polish woman eating is a sacred ritual that must not be shared with members of the opposite sex. You’ll never have the chance to see a Polish woman devour a sausage or a banana the way our lovely cailins do it back home. No way, Jose. In Catholic Poland that would warrant a sentence of 12 Hail Marys, 3 Our Fathers and a month of Opus Dei-like self-flagellation. However, I’ve come into some information that I fell must be shared with the world. Polish females are known for being incredibly good looking and skinny, the reason being is they have found the secret to living simply on air and water…..and frustration.
Frustration here is the key. Their frustration powers their hearts, it keeps the blood flowing around the body. You see, Polish women hate men, Polish men in particular. Because they know that they are fitter, smarter, better looking and more intelligent, they know they can pretty much get away with murder and treat men how they want to. Polish men are quite simple. As the statement says, give him food and he’s grand. Polish women know that a Polish man’s greatest and most troubling challenge lies in preparing meals, so they know full-well that they hold the keys to ruling oven their men-folk with iron-fists. I firmly believe that somewhere in Maggie Thatcher’s bloodline there’s a whole heap of Polski DNA.
Why do they hate men? Polkas look at us as being nothing more than stupid baboons, in their eyes we’re nothing but walking, grumbling, sweating, sperm-producers. It breaks their hearts to need us men for sperm. If they ever find a way to produce it without us, then men in Poland will be as dead as disco baby. Dead as flare-wearing dodos at a delightfully decadent disco hosted by Donna Summer.
The thing is, the Polish man knows that he can’t compete. He’s lived with this crap all his life from an over-powering mother and now he’s gonna get the same crap from what’s supposed to be the love of his life. They’re doomed from the outset. Why do you think so many move away and shack up with the first foreign female that looks at them? Or even better, they suddenly discover they’re gay and can live happily ever after safe in the knowledge that no bad woman-type will abuse him mentally again.
It’s astonishing to see the power that a Polish girl can wield over her man. I don’t know how many house parties I’ve been to where the super skinny waifs will sit long-lipped with a face like a wet Sunday, giving darting, disapproving looks to their menfolk because they smiled at a half-rude joke. Women rule the roost here boys, so have a good long-hard think about it before getting involved with a Polka. The best places where the abuse can be see is in the holiest theatres in Poland.
Churches? No, don’t be silly, shopping centres. I always do my shopping in shopping centres, because in shopping centres, assistants don’t help you, in smaller shops people try and help and then they freak out when I speak in pigeon Polish and they retreat to the back of the shop and begin throwing holy water at me, chanting in the Gregorian style ashamed that a foreigner has graced the steps of their fine food emporium. If you ever want a laugh when in Poland, head to a shopping centre and just stand around. Within 30 seconds you’ll see at least one couple arguing like crazy, well, a woman shouting at her man anyway. He’ll be carrying all the shopping bags and she’s giving him some shit for nodding suggestively to a female shop assistant while she was handing back his credit card to him. They’re like military leaders I’m telling ya, step out of line at all and there’s no grub coming that night. And sex!….. sex is bit different.
The frustration that powers the heart of a Polish women must be worked out some way. And the sex life of a typical Polka is something akin to that of a wild mamma-bear in heat. It’s fine for the first few years, but as you keep making a mess of things by smiling at people and generally being nice to other females, your food allowance diminishes by the scale of the golden ratio. The mind is willing, but the body unable. Death by starvation followed by snu-snu our collective graves will read.
It’s been a long break, but I’m back baby. Drop-d is back and I’ll be writing an article for Mike and the Drop-d guys every week.
Here’s the opener:
Shoes off, shake hands, women first, kiss both cheeks, but three if you know them well. Shake hands with every man, even if you’ve met 100 times before. Say your name as you shake if it’s the first meeting, he’ll say his too and neither of you will remember each other’s names.
This is the mantra I repeat to myself every time I go to someone’s house since I’ve moved to Poland. All mighty important stuff. Even if you forget the handshaking and kissing, for the love of Jaysus don’t forget to take off your shoes. No worries, you’ll be provided with slippers, Polish households have more slippers than electricity sockets. ‘Tis a fact so it is. And don’t wear odd socks with a hole in one of the toes. I always wore odd socks in Ireland. Now, not so. Poland has changed me, man (but for the better?)
It’s been a few years since I left Ireland…..oh no another tale of woe about one of Ireland’s Celtic Cubs forced to leave because of the economy….Naw, not really, I could’ve stayed in Ireland, I do miss it like Hell, but I left for love. Oh yes, the old romantic is me. Too old to be a Celtic Cub anyway. I think I’m one of those Pope’s Children that ginger chap who sounds like he knows a ton about the economy wrote about. Drunk on love and sick to the teeth of Irish rain, I immigrated with my Polish girl to her home city of Katowice. Kato-what-ca?
Never heard of it says you, don’t blame ya. I presume here that you’ve seen at least one UK film set in the times of Conservative Thatcherism, well think Manchester/Sheffield in the 80s, that’s a bit like Katowice, but with better weather and beautiful Polish women. It’s grand so it is. My brother was here not so long ago and described it as…. “it’s got the charm of an ugly baby.” Well, y’know yourself, ugly babies are always far and away cooler than the good looking ones. Is it OK to say that babies can be good looking? Ireland’s gone a bit PC mad since I left, don’t want ye thinking I fancy babies y’know.
“Do you like Poland?” That’s the first thing I’m asked when I meet someone new here. Poles are really interested in knowing what foreigners think of their country. That blows my mind, really amazes me. I don’t think us Irish give two fiddler’s fucks about what immigrants think of Ireland. At first I used to give nice MOR answers, ‘Yes, of course, I like the food, the beer, the weather and Polish women are the most beautiful in the world.” Poles are well aware they have Europe’s hottest women, they’re not so lucky with the menfolk though. The also think their weather is terrible…ha! Try coming from Ireland where it’s gray one day and grayer the next. Poland has four season, four real, proper seasons.
A real, full-on proper weather cycle. It’s mad. My first winter though, I’ll admit to enjoying quite a few suicidal thoughts. I remember checking the temperature before taking the hound for his nightly stroll one night, it was -33 degrees. I damn near picked poor Rambo up to hold over the balcony to squeeze a steamer out of him. I decided against it for fear that a flying dog turd would freeze and solidify midair and kill one of my elderly neighbours while she smokes on her balcony.
Now though I’ve graduated to less MOR answers. “Why yes, of course, I like the way Poland is the first country to have a transgender member of Parliament.” That gets funny looks, or “I love the way queues work in Poland, you guys love a good queue.” “Pickled Herring” or “I love driving here, I’m hepped up on adrenaline and testosterone every morning when I get into work.” “Beer is sold everywhere at any time of the day, wonderful…and I love the way every house you go into has slippers ready for you when you get there.” “Kebabs, zapiekanka and krupniok, (blood pudding) love it, flaki’s (intestines) nasty though.” “Everything can be pickled, it’s an amazing talent you guys have.”
It’s only right to feel homesick from time to time though. And with Paddy’s Day almost upon us I’m ripe for some. Irish pubs, Wexford cheddar – love those awesome farmers on the packets, Taytos, Lucozade. Ann Doyle reading the news. Whelan’s. I’ve found a cure for it though. I go to the RTE website and listen to Joooooooooooe Duffyyyyyyy. The callers on that show instill a sense of gratitude in me that I don’t have to be on the same rain-sodden island as them. It’s immense and if ever feeling homesick it’s the best cure. But I do tune into RTE’s Champions League coverage still and I devour podcasts from Ireland,
I miss our wonderful range of accents.
So, yes, Paddy’s is almost here and what to do? I’m sure I’ll be doing something patriotic, I’ll watch the Dublin parade online and go to a friend’s house and watch the GAA finals…who’s playing? Does it matter? Guinness will be drank, along with car-bombs and maybe we’ll hunt down a lamb or a goat from a mountain and make a stew. Teach some locals some rebel songs….not that I actually know the full words to any, maybe some Thin Lizzy or Kerbdog lyrics instead, or Declan Nerney or Daniel O’Donnell. One of my best friends here knows all the words to the Wolftones/Eire Og’s Go on Home British Soldiers. That’s a story for another time I’m afraid. I don’t even know the words, I’d to look up there who even sang it, so it’s pretty funny to hear a Polish man sing them with delight at 4am in the centre of Katowice. A house party will be had and we’ll introduce our Polish mates to a quintessential Irish tradition. It’ll either blow their minds or lead to an all out freakout of mammoth proportions. If you hear of Katowice on the news come Monday morning then you’ll know what’s to blame. Shoes on, inside.
…….The next article will appear on Drop-d.ie in the coming days and I’ll add it to the blog after that.