Postcards from Peanut – Emotional Baggage

Dear Readers

This is the last week of my holiday and last postcard from me. My poem summarises it all:

I’m doomed

to carry emotional baggage

from consuming all that cabbage.

It’s ok

I’ve got a secret that makes me happy:

mummy will pay

when she smells my nappy!

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Prose for Thought
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Postcards from Peanut – Polish Weather

SAM_1963SAM_1953 SAM_1955

SAM_1961

Dear Readers

Poland is cold, Krakow a bit better

Scotland is much much wetter

Cabbage is vile and bad mummy told me

to stop torturing that poor bird.

I did and instead I stepped

into a big brown….

(caramel-shiny, fossilised chocolate brownie!!!)

Bye

Peanut


Post Comment Love

Postcards from Peanut – Edinburgh Airport

BlueBeretMum is on holiday in the lovely city of Krakow, Poland and Peanut has decided to keep the blog going and write a few postcards to keep you up to date on our latest adventures.

Since he must have inherited his mum’s love of badly rhymed verse….well, you know what to expect.  Here is your first postcard from Peanut.  Enjoy!

Hey, you rude man at the front of our queue

Get off my mum’s toe, she’s human too!

Beware of her temper or she will stab you

With her Jimmy Choo (off eBay,

A cheap copy. None of your business so boo hoo).

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Post Comment Love

Teargas and Tulips

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On 1 June it is Children’s Day in Poland so let’s raise glasses filled with lemonade to our children because childhood doesn’t last long enough.

A few days ago I got angry. Very angry. At life. And the universe. And everything.

There I was sipping my favourite Apple & Dill tea (tastes much better than it sounds), eyeing the last chocolate brownie on the plate in front of me and catching up on one of Radio 4 programmes, From Our Own Correspondent. This is one of my favourite pastimes apart from reading, blogging, doing yoga and drinking cocktails like no one is watching (order depending on the day).  And on the more serious note, whenever I get a chance and have two minutes to myself, I like to listen to stories about quirks and oddities in other cultures.  In that particular episode of FOOC, called The Lap of Luxury and broadcast on 23 February 2013, there was a reportage from Syria in which a BBC journalist visited an old Roman burial chamber and found seven boys hiding in the dark.  Some of them were brothers; some had lost their parents in fights and bombings.  Seven pairs of eyes in the cold tombstone. “We are all afraid.”

(more…)

Disco Inferno

disco loveIt is an early spring and the evening smells of cherry blossom and burning rubbish. Feeling tall and pretty in my 13 year old scraggy body I run across the park past a few dog walkers and regular drunks. On my way to my first ever disco night.

A home-made botched haircut stays put with half a can of my mum’s ancient hair spray. A string of fake pearls bounces off my (thankfully still flat) chest. My tights are sprinkled with red nail varnish dots to catch those persistent runs. Every few meters or so I have to stop and put a piece of cotton wool back into my brand new red patent leather shoes. I love them so much I don’t mind the agony and blisters.

I sneak into the dining hall decorated with a narcoleptic disco ball and worn-out garlands from last Christmas. The air is muddled with teenage sweat and cheap deodorant. I check my hair and stop in the doorway. Girls, all giggles and smeared lipstick, huddle together on one side. Boys, all attitude and gel in hair, play football with an empty Coke can on the other side of the room. A few balloons hover in the middle.

As soon as Sinead starts wailing about “seven hours and fifteen days” the floor fills up with awkward fumbling and first stolen kisses. A string of hopefuls queues to the Pretty Girl with Long Curls. What I lack in hair I make up with my je ne sais quoi. I strike a pose. I imagine therefore I am Cindy/Linda/Claudia.

Nothing.

The only odd one out – the Dumbo Ears Boy supports the wall next to me.

He will do.

I glance at him and he starts inspecting the sole of his shoe.

My cheeks burn.

The drunks in the park burst out laughing when I run past them.

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Do you remember those awkward times? I would love to hear your stories!

I am linking up to  Once Upon A Time over at Older Mum (In A Muddle).  I am delighted to be joining her for a walk down the memory lane!

Keeping Up With The Polish – A Brit’s Guide To Survival

DoodleBuddyOur last day in the lovely and sunny Stockholm – we have been having a great time in Sweden and I will soon tell you all about it!  For now, to keep the blog busy, I will entertain you with a piece that has been hiding in my Drafts for a while.  It was hugely inspired by the Daily Mail.  Enjoy!

2004 was a significant year for me on many levels.  I was about to finish university and was staring long-term graduate unemployment in the face and I managed to avoid watching every single sporting event during the Athens Olympics.   Tony Blair opened the United Kingdom’s borders to the 10 new European Union members, including Poland.  Great Britain and a handful other countries like France, Sweden and Holland kept their doors ajar, while others slammed it in our face for a maximum of seven years.

And so we forced the British doors open a bit more and what happened next is history.  Nobody could have predicted the scale of the exodus from the former Eastern bloc – the Poles were migrating lemming-like to the British Isles, dropping out of the sky (or rather Ryanair and Easyjet) and flooding out of an incessant stream of buses, smelling of sausages and hard-boiled eggs.  They took up jobs nobody else wanted, improving your plumbing, washing up your dishes, building the Olympic stadium and giving the Daily Mail a few headlines to fall back on in case Jordan decided not to enlarge her breasts that week.

The quiet British streets were flooded with Polish delis hiding such dark secrets as pickled cabbage and kabanosy.  There were warnings that the whole of Poland was moving over, only leaving the very oldest and the youngest behind.  That soon “Britishness” would disappear.  The Daily Mail became even more popular.

And now, nine years on, Britain and its people are still here.  And so are the Poles.  Polish has become the second largest language in Britain and even though some of my countrymen and women went home discouraged by the grey pavements not being gold-plated after all, the rest are not going anywhere.  And neither am I.

I have a good job that I enjoy and a wide circle of friends and a baby, who is going to grow up sharing a Scottish and British and Polish heritage.

After a lot of musing and pondering I have decided it is about time to make everyone’s lives easier and debunk a few myths.  The Poles are not that bad, but we are different and out of my affection for the British and their Britishness I am going to share a Keeping Up with the Polish Guide with you.  Read it, memorise it and you might just get away with not having to learn Polish  one day:

  1. We are glum. Life is tough, we know it and will not pretend it is otherwise.  So next time you ask a Polish person how they are don’t expect the straightforward “I’m fine, thank you. How are you?”  No, you had better have time on your hands as you are more likely to hear this: “Ah, my left toe is rotten, my eyes are not what they used to be and my uncle is dead. He died in the battle at Monte Cassino. My cholesterol levels are too high so I ‘m planning my funeral because I don’t trust my doctors. What do they know anyway?”  \My advice – next time someone asks you how you are doing try the Polish way and mention all the possible sickness that has decimated your family, just make sure you go back at least 10 generations.  Mention your bankruptcy and depression, and the impending divorce.
  2. Only Polish bread or chleb counts.  Its secret?  Sourdough and cumin seeds.  Nothing compares to it.  It fills you up and doesn’t taste like cardboard filled with 90% air.  We eat bread when we drink vodka (lines the stomach), we give bread to teething infants (keeps them quiet) and we get it officially blessed by a Catholic priest at Easter.  Our chleb is us.
  3. Limp upper lip.  If we don’t like you or something you have said or done we will let you know.  What do you mean it is too personal to discuss difficult labour and second degree tears with a stranger on a bus?  If in doubt, go back to point one.
  4. Don’t mention the war. Unless you want to thank us for winning it for you.  We are still bitter about Britain not joining in when we needed it most. We never forget.
  5. Never mix up Poland with Russia. Ever. It took us a while but now we know that Scotland is in Scotland and not in England.  Also, to all British TV producers – when you want an actor to do a Polish accent and they speak with a Russian twang it is wrong. Very wrong.
  6. Don’t call me an Eastern-European. Poland is in Central Europe, not Eastern Europe. Repeat after me. Central Europe.
  7. No house is too small. We don’t mind housing a three generation family and an Alsatian in a two bedroom flat you would find too small for your goldfish.  If there is no space we make space.
  8. No rounds in a pub. We don’t get the whole pub rounds malarkey.  Mainly because life is tough and you can’t trust people.  We suspect that everyone else orders the most expensive drinks when it isn’t their turn.  So let me buy and drink my own beer and you can buy and drink yours.  Simple.
  9. To beer or not to beer.  Beer is beer and lager is beer too.  And so is ale.  Ale is simply a lukewarm beer.  And here is my family secret, hot beer with spices and raspberry syrup is the best cure for a mean cold.  You are welcome.
  10. Vodka of life. Wine is for wimps, vodka is for real people.  After enough shots of vodka we can even crack a smile at your jokes.
  11. What’s in an accent? In Poland we all sound the same and after the dark years behind the Iron Curtain we emerged as a classless nation.  Our noblemen jumped the ship a long time ago, everybody swears and our cleaners have degrees in ancient Greek.
  12. Public schools, doh. If your parents have to pay for your education then there is something wrong with you and your cognitive abilities to learn to read and add up – this is how we see it back home.  In my free state secondary school we learned two foreign languages, there was an option to study Latin and 90% of my classmates went on to achieve one or two degrees.  I could go to that school because I scored high at the entrance exams. Not because my parents had to pay with their sweat and blood for an overpriced property in an area with a decent school.  Sorry Peanut.  Sigh.
  13. Happy to rent. We don’t get the obsession with climbing up the property ladder.  We are happy that we have a job. And don’t have to share our room with a snoring grandmother, a dog and a baby.
  14. Don’t ever criticise the Polish pope.
  15. What’s cricket about?  Again.  What is it ACTUALLY about?
  16. I’d love to overfeed you. This is how we show love.  With food and vodka on the table.  If you are ever invited to our house, don’t eat for a week before the event and I can guarantee you will not have to eat for at least a week afterwards. Sorted.

Now that you have greater insight into the Polish psyche it should ease your fear of the Poles squeezing the Britishness out of the British until there is not a single drop left.  We actually love Britain, otherwise we would not have stayed here.  Not everything is about money and stealing benefits.  Longer term it is the culture and its people that count.  And all the things we don’t understand about Britain we have learned to admire and respect.  Apart from the bread.  The Daily Mail.  And the weather.

Na zdrowie.

A Wild Meadow

Hello everyone

Still enjoying my time in Sweden.  Ah the sun and the pastries!  I know I said I would take a break from all the blogging madness but I have recently dreamt up this post.  So here it is – a quick walk down my memory lane for you while I’m away.  Oh, and before I disappear again to chase some elks – there are some great Sweden inspired posts in the making so watch this space!

DoodleBuddy

There is a wild meadow a five-minute walk away from my parent’s flat.  It doesn’t seem to belong to anyone and you can see it in the neglected long grass and half dead shrubs hiding remains of a drunken party.  Empty bottles of vodka.  Old newspapers used as a seat or cover (or both) from rain and cold.  An old decaying building that used to be a petrol station. Its dead eyes boarded up, its face scarred with an occasional graffiti of male genitals.

This is where I used to play hide and seek with my best friend, crawling on the ground, knowing my dirty knees and torn sleeves would get me into trouble later. The overgrown bushes and grass hid exciting secrets and treasures.  A lonely boot missing its laces.  A broken umbrella. A baseball cap.

This is where as an eight year old girl I took my puppy, Gapcio, for his first proper walk.  Over the years spent exploring the meadow, Gapcio never tired of digging up molehills and showing unrequited love to an occasional hedgehog.  And this was where I took him 18 years later for our last walk before he disappeared in my dad’s car.

The meadow witnessed hours of me and my friend coming to grips with our teenage angst while sitting on a fallen tree, overanalysing failed dates, drinking cheap beer and choking on cigarette smoke.  During summers a group of secret naturists took over our hiding spot to scorch their wobbly bellies in the high sun.

This is where I came to say good-bye to my life in Poland before heading off into the unknown eight years ago.

One year I brought a former boyfriend back with me to introduce him to the meadow and its magic. He looked at the grey blocks of flats rising over the city in the far distance, the weeds and dead trees around us, dried out bones of a dead bird he had managed to avoid stepping into and the abandoned petrol station building with a fresh graffiti of a gigantic penis on its front.  My heart swelled with pride.

“So, this is the meadow I told you about”

He took his time taking in all the beauty before muttering something about perfect hiding spots for criminals on the run and dodgy drug dealers.

100 Word Challenge

Inspired by my early childhood memories. Imagine being backstage behind the Iron Curtain where a certain product is a treasured commodity.

…the queue was so long…

A man picks his nose. Two women peel and share hard-boiled eggs and bread. 1..2..3 poppies on the two identical scarves they wear.

Two men exchange punches and Kurwas.

“Jumping the queue. Doesn’t fear God.”

“They used to hang rats like him.”

A few applaud. The Queue sways forward. Someone faints. The Queue marches over the body.

Front of the Queue – a victorious yelp and scurrying steps.

“New delivery next month.”

The Queue was so long it twisted three times around the block.

The lucky ones wear necklaces of toilet rolls.

The rest of us start to crumple old papers.

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