Culture

I love ya, Poland, but…

I have no right, really I don’t, to grumble.

As a Briton, I’ve lived in Poland half of my adult life and love the place. Poland has given me love, work, pleasure and meaning. My children are half-Polish and I am very proud of the fact.



So, please take my gripes with a pinch of salt.

But gripes I do indeed have: here are a few small things which would make life better…

Be less grumpy. Say ‘please’, ‘thank you’, ‘hello’, it won’t hurt. Pliz. Even if you don’t want to or even mean it. Be a hypocrite, if it means making the day just that little bit less unpleasant. Don’t throw products at me in shops, pliz, and respect my place in the queueing system.

Smile occasionally, for no reason.

On buses (I’m looking at you older people with usually empty shopping bags), don’t barge. There’s room for us all and we’re going in the same direction after all.

Don’t argue for the sake of it. Don’t assume everyone else wants to fight all the time about everything. Don’t jump in just for fun, adding something to an already fraught situation. Don’t do it. Please. It’s a sport that needs no Olympics.

Go back to driving school. It sometimes feels like driving among children with toys, boys in their cars, young women honking, hand gestures in the mirror. This is not Rome or New York City, people, you’ll still get there.

Please, please stop throwing in English words as if they are cool. Like Levi’s at the height of the Soviet period, they are still ‘currency’. The relative local assimilation (cultural appropriation might be pushing the idea) of the use of ‘OK’ (the O pronounced as in orange, K as in high) seems to have a correlative relationship with levels of development, integration and/or perceptions of development. A kind of semiotic version of The Economist’s Big Mac ranking, a gauge of progress, how far we have come from the depths of communist misery. OK is now ours, we being of the western world, even if the western world doesn’t realise it or appreciate it.

‘C’mon on’, another one, really grates. Oh man! It’s really not ‘the best’. Sorki about that, guys. Hairy for hair is very funny, I admit. Happy ending, not happy end (in films, people, let’s keep it clean, pliz), Wembleee not Wemblay – for Wembley.

Somehow, the French can borrow our words, given we borrowed about 50 per cent of theirs a thousand years ago. But the trade with Poland is very one-sided. Surely we should be proud, it’s a signal of the hegemonic charisma of a vibrant culture, no? I have to admit that, for me, not really. Polish is a lovely, creative, vibrant language, why chuck in so much of our crap?

Please ditch t-shirts, sweatshirts, graffito that include the words ‘fuck’ or ‘fuck off’ – or just wear them at home. I hatched a devious plan one day to wander around London with a t-shirt that reads ‘spierdalaj’ – for no reason.

Music, oh Man! Polish hip-hop is derivative, boring and self-absorbed; reggae is funny (think “polisman”). Think up something new, your own rubbish. Change the dress stylee – copy cats make poor innovators: jeans cut at the knee and Adidas Superstars just look like a capitalist version of Chinese garb from the Cultural Revolution.

Rejoice at Kazik and Kora! Polish punk was – still is – great. Reclaim that spirit. Big pliz, before I have to stop visiting my local (“Peaky Blinders”) barbers.

For real.


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  • I recommend changing Warsaw for Wroclaw, Poznan or Gdansk.
    This city has bad vibes, its ugly (mix of disgusting commieblocks with modern buildings, architecture is ugly, looks like some soviet town with added skyscrapers), people are always angry, agressive. Always some sort of anti lgbt marches, nazi marches and other stuff. Warsaw is typical eastern. Wroclaw, poznan and Gdansk are only true european high quality cities in Poland.