Friday, 22 June 2007

Circles and Triangles

Recent events (a vicious lurgy, a parental visit, lack of internet last weekend) have kept me quiet for a while. Huge sighs of relief all round. No longer! I am back, and speaking out for peace, democracy and the freedom to make an ass of myself in four different languages.

In my absence, I have managed to be responsible for destroying several acres of rainforest in the form of tissues (not to mention a lingering tang of Vick's vaporub wafting through the streets of Kazimierz), ruining the parental weight-loss diet and (almost) causing frozen turkeys to be fired into French jet engines- as opposed to defrosted seagulls. Clearly I've spent too long in Tesco, thinking of Christmas.

But you don't want to hear about any of that.

In Poland, there is a popular television programme for small children where four adults, dressed in babygros, with large false bottoms and mysterious television screens on their bellies, romp around a giant golf course. I'm sure you know the one. They live on toast and custard, speak slightly better Polish than I do, and play with oversized accessories: one has a ball, one a spotty hat, one... a handbag.
This display of sartorial elegance has caused a flurry of gender confusion across the somewhat conservative Polish government, as the handbag-wielding character in question happens to pronounce its gurgles in a rich baritone.

I would like to protest. A certain amount of gender-confusion is inevitable once you cross the language barrier and find yourself faced with the inevitable two doors on the other side of the service station forecourt. France and Italy are not too much of a problem: France is M and F and Italy (signori/signore) usually just has one door anyway, or a nice picture. German-speaking countries are slightly more problematic: H versus D. I know enough German to order ice-cream, tell people the name of my favourite pop group, and ask for the bahnhof. But not enough to prevent me from blundering through what is very quickly very obviously the wrong door, from time to time.
(Incidentally, my party-piece is: 'Leibe Gott! Ich habe mein portmonnaie im bus vergessen! Was machen wir jetzt?!' I am hoping that, exclaimed in the right tone of voice during a four-hour stop-over in Munich airport, this phrase will cause strapping young Teutonic types to rush over and buy me coffee.)

Only in Poland, however, have I stood in the corridor, totally stumped, listening helplessly to the opening credits of the film whilst trying to decide whether my feminine mystique was best identified by a circle or a triangle.

And finally:
Sticker seen on the the inside of a (unisex) cubicle door in a bar in Kazimierz:
'Ta toaleta promuje homoseksualism' - illustrated by a merrily dancing Tinky Winky.
Rather too much information, but entertaining nonetheless.

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