Sunday, 15 June 2008

Weird things about being back in the UK

1/ People feel the need to use Chainsaws and Earth Movers in their gardens Every Day. This is to show that they have bigger balls than their neighbours.

2/ Cappuccino is GINORMOUS. At least twice the size of your humble Cracovian or Italian cappu. You get a) very high very quickly; b) stomach ache from lactose overload.

3/ Doorbells. People live in houses here and everyone has a doorbell. The doorbell exists to drive the dog nuts. Or the dog exists to bark at the doorbell. Sometimes, the doorbell (which has dodgy wiring) goes off when you leave the house, and then the dog gets confused. Even when the doorbell doesn't work, the dogs usually do.

4/ Carpets. Remind me again why each floor surface must be carpeted to within an inch of its life? Carpets, as far as I can make out, only serve as hiding places for fleas, ingrained dirt and dog hair. And they absorb spills of all varieties (the dog is highly strung and has poor muscular control. I think you know what I mean). My parents have beautiful wooden floors on the ground floor of their house, and yet these are covered by disgusting, smelly carpets because, as my Dad says, it would be too much trouble to polish them. And he's not even the one who does the vacuuming.

5/ 'Neighbours' is on Channel 5!! What's a girl to do?!
I ought to add that terrestrial aerials in Sevenoaks do not deign to pick up signals from Channel 5. This is to protect residents from an accidental encounter with the likes of Jordan or Denise Van Outen. The same applies in St Andrews, incidentally. I suspect they've signed a 'too posh for dross' secret opt-out clause.

6/ Free food. When you walk past market stalls in the Home Counties, the yuppie vendor - a West-Country organic farmer with French market type aspirations - will offer you crinkly fragments of sun-dried tomato on the end of a cocktail stick. A stroll around Borough Market will keep you going for a whole afternoon.
This Never happens in Poland*. You'll pay for that bit of cheese or we're calling security.

7/ Diet products fill supermarket shelves. My parents' fridge is full of fat-free WeightWatchers fromage frais. You can get Colę dietyczną everywhere. Caffè Nero, Starbucks and the like will serve you skimmed latte on request (try asking for 0.00 pro cent in Tribeca and see where it gets you). And it's not just the grown-ups: Weetabix packets recommend breakfast cereal as a low-fat tea-time snack for kids (whatever happened to Nutella and Kinder eggs?). Cookbooks have titles like 'Skinny Bitch' or 'Why French women don't get fat'**.
And yet the papers are screaming about record obesity levels.

8/ In fact the papers are screaming about pretty much everything. Obesity crises; models with eating disorders; torrential rain threatening to flood the country; credit crunch; negative equity; the Lisbon Treaty and Falling Standards Among the Young.
Gosh the country has gone to the dogs in my absence.

Better hot-foot it back to Poland...

*Except in Alma, which is a weird experimental yuppie place.
** 40 Gauloises a day and bulimia.


The Dad said...

The best fun with the doorbell is when you set the ring tone to sound like a dog barking - makes the dogs go mad! Then again, it can be quite fun when the doorbell (which is cordless) is set off by a van drivers' remote locking device.
Finally, there is a flaw in the theory that dogs will let you know there are visitors even when the doorbell fails to ring. If the daughters have taken the dogs for a walk and do not have keys with them they (the daughters) have to bark loudly outside the front door to attract attention

Anonymous said...

Dear Pinolona,
I think it`s not so bad with Old Merry England :-)I`ve just finished
reading Your blog and I`m really impressed.Generally Polish languge sounds like kind of Chineese for non-Poles and learning it is a real challange.To my delight I`ve found that not only me regards starboard side cooler than port:-))) and delikatne cząstki are very important parts of any juicy substance :-))) Do You really find polish skills beneficial? Maybe after reading Leśmian verses (completely impossible to translate to any foreign language) or Cyberiada by Lem? Your blog is the first one for me to read in Internet(OK,I`m not 62 but anyway a little bit old fashioned:-) ) and i wonder if the fact that it is being written in Internet does affect the style and contents?Would it be the in the same manner when written by pen? How Joyce`s "Work In Progress"* would look like when instantly presentented in statu nascendi to the audience?Hmm...interesting.But writing the blog like Yours means opening the heart and showing the emotions.And then comments: wise , less wise and sometimes not wise at all.The author should be really stout hearted...Anyway I really enjoyed Your Written Words.And want to sign in to Grupa Wsparcia.To keep You in our minds and hearts.
Would You accept
admiration? (bowing now)

Gregorius of Muly** rolling on The Atlantic Ocean.The mountains of Brazilian coast 2 miles away.

*Finnegans Wake at early stage
**lost-in-forrest village I`m living in (population 11 including me,my wife and our blind dog) Azorek)

W-wa Jeziorki said...

No free food? Never mind Alma, try Auchan on a Saturday; the French are promoting their fromages and their sausissons secs and yogurt drinks, the Italians their coffee, the Germans their bratwurst, the Poles their pierogi and parówki. You can shop and eat a 2,300 cal. meal while you're at it.

Pinolona - I think somehow you're destined to return to Poland!

Darth Sida said...

=> collateral comment


A few books on my shelves together with some Google readings make me suspect that not only were (Lem's Cyberiad and Joyce's WiP and) Lesmian verses possible to translate, but they were actually translated.

Justyna said...

Yes carpets!! Same in Oz. What is the go with dust mite havens? Bring on the faux wooden 'panele' any time.

Come back. It's really sunny and pretty here. And riding my bike down the Wisla yesterday, I realised there were not enough roller-bladers...

pinolona said...

Grzegorz: Sorry, I've taken a while to reply to you! But I did notice your comment before.
Many thanks for your comments and I'm glad you like the blog!
(what's the Polish for port and starboard, while we're here?)
Do I find Polish skills beneficial?
- while living in Poland, yes. I'd never dream of going to live in another country and not learning the language. You miss out on so much if you don't at least try. It's very easy to live in an ex-pat bubble and I think you miss a lot of important experiences that way.

Secondly, I'm a translator/interpreter. It's all purely about money and self-interest. The existence of the EU means there's a decent market for people like me. Poland is big and important and produces a lot of words, both written and spoken. Not many native English linguists can work with Polish. As an inexperienced beginner with a very common French/Italian combination I'd definitely look more attractive on the languages market if I could add Polish to my CV. So yes, believe it or not, it's more than worth my while professionally to master all those tricky declensions.

Thirdly, I can't do Sudoku. Polish is much more fun.

I haven't read Lem (unfortunately) and the only Joyce I've read is Portrait of the Artist. But I reckon there's no point rushing these things. If I go and try to read Finnegan's Wake before I'm ready I'll never understand or appreciate the thing (are we even meant to??).

Just to muscle in on the collateral comment, I suspect Darth himself is translating Finnegan's Wake... (incidentally, very funny episode of Newsnight comparing Ulysses and the Lisbon Treaty... very few Dubliners have actually read it...)

About the difference between internet and paper writing: I think I'd never have started writing a book, whereas it's relatively easy to tap out another blog post. Writing for lazy people, bonjour paresse!

Jeziorki - there's no Auchan in Kraków! (unless there's one out by łagiewniki or something?). Italy is the best for free food though: check out any self-respecting bar around 7pm and you'll get a decent meal.

Justyna: welcome back! How was the tennis?
I know, you need more skaters. Having said that, I went on a really cool organised skate from Hyde Park corner on Sunday: it was awesome. You don't get that in Kraków. Yet...

Oh, I'll be back...

Darth Sida said...

Oh and I used to see Gauloises in Polish kiosks but no more. Do they sell them in UK in any equivalent of, uh, boulimgeries?

PS: Definitely not "Darth himself is translating Finnegan's Wake"! But no language given as default, the thing is available in Dutch, German, Japanese, French, parts in Czech and more.

scatts said...

I just popped by to say hi!

* and Bomi at Klif who always have a selection of free tasters!