Friday, April 08, 2005

JP2 pt2

JP2 #2
Originally uploaded by StefZ.

London has a long-established Polish community dating back to the end of the last war. The last really big war that is.

Given that I attended a Catholic secondary in South London, I had a fair few classmates of Polish decent. They were usually quite easy to spot, coming as they did in two basic varieties; tall and blonde or small and brown. You could easily pick them out from the Irish kids, who were medium-sized and white with red tops or the Italian ones, who were also small and brown but did no€™t sport that curious, cropped pudding basin haircut so beloved of East European males since, presumably, the dawn of time.

The other way you could pick the Polish kids out was that they were so damn intense. I did not really click onto why until my last year or so at school. There had been clues though. Like when summer holidays were coming up and I would chat about spending the Summer with relatives in Italy and the Polish kids would say 'We are staying at home in Streatham as our parents are exiles from their homeland which is subject to the boot of Communist tyranny'. Yes, the penny really should have dropped sooner.

Then the Solidarity thing happened in the early 80s and the Polish kids perked-up immensely. They would come into school festooned with all sorts of Solidarity memorabilia, jabbering away about all the great things that were happening in Gdansk (where?) and raising money for and sometimes even travelling on aid convoys into Poland.

John Paul II was part of that process and, for Poles, he was a very big deal indeed.

Watching the procession last night reminded me of that time and I could not help wishing that I could turn the clock back and take the opportunity to get more involved. Partly because a major historical event passed me by without me really noticing it and partly because the Polish kids at school had some seriously cute sisters.

Who was it who started that whole genre of ugly Polish women jokes years ago? Stuff like 'What do you call a pretty woman in Warsaw? A Tourist'. And that unrepeatable one about the single sock? Was he mad?

Poland produces an apparently limitless supply of stick thin, doe-eyed women with forlorn expressions and husky voices that simultaneously cry out to be protected and, pardon me, rogered senseless all at the same time. Hitting just about every single button in the primeval male brain.

Having said that, it could be just attributable to the lure of the unknown. I recall, what to me was, a particularly bizarre conversation with an Hungarian friend who tried to explain to me that, to him, the Welsh were an exotic and compellingly attractive race ...


Peter said...

Your Catholic primary school sounds a lot like mine (although mine was in East London). We had the same mix of people. Things don't seem to have changed much in the time between you leaving and me starting. I remember the Polish kids seeming intense, and my best mate at the time was one of the small and brown Italian kids.

Coincidentally, I also come from a poor family and was kinda pushed into a (serious) science degree with a view to getting a job in the city and making money. (You posted about this before).

Hopefully I've got off that path now, without having spent too long realising it's not me.

If you've got spare time check out this:
The comments make interesting reading.

I'd be interested to know who you are thinking of voting for, unless you'd rather not say. Brian Sedgemore (Lab) has a strong-ish majority here so I'll be free to vote Green. I'm going to read up on alternatives before I decide.

Stef said...

Thanks, that was an interesting link.

There are lots of people out there in the same quandry aren't there? Disgusted by Blair but equally disgusted by the opposition.

Personally speaking, and I might be being simplistic here, The War, the ID card thing, the spread of fascism in this country, and I don't use that term lightly, override all other concerns. I couldn't possibly dream of casting a vote in support of the Blair government, even though my own local Labour MP is hardly a fan herself.

I've posted this before but politics in this country is no longer about Left and Right, if it ever was, it's about Them and Us. Tony and Co. are most definitely on the side of Them.

As to actually what to do with that precious vote, mmmmm, that could be a longer answer. I'm going to think about it for a bit and maybe post on the subject before the Election, and add to all those other thousands of lonely voices echoing around the web



PS Yes, stay off the path you refer to if you possibly can. If I am sure of anything in this life it's that.