We’re rocketing towards the middle of January now, but it would seem that the prospect of the Brzeg Christmas decorations coming down is as remote as finding a car park in the town that doesn’t resemble a bomb crater.

And before you say ‘Bah-Humbug,’ the reason I so desperately want to see the back of the bloody things is that Christmas, for me, was a nightmare.

Of course, those of you who know me will understand that I normally have the same enthusiasm for Christmas as pervades the proverbial turkey farm, but this year can only be described as The Worst in Living Memory.

And for this — at the risk of being struck down — I blame God.

St Nicholas’ Church from where John Paul ll looks kindly down

It’s Sunday before Christmas and for reasons I’m not sure I fully understand myself, I decide to go to church. Of course, there is only one flavour of Christianity on offer in Brzeg and so I womble in, swaddled in all available items of clothing, past the King Kong-sized statue of Pope John Paul ll, and take a pew towards the back.

The first thing I notice is the cold; the Catholic Church certainly doesn’t see fit to waste money on giving its flock a warm welcome.

Now I should explain a couple of things — I’m not particularly religious, but I do like churches. Also, I kick with the right foot, therefore low-key puff-pastry Anglicanism would be more my bag.

The last time I was in a Catholic Church was in Pollensa in July 2014. It was a Sunday, the town was packed with market-goers and bored tourists so there wasn’t a shaded café seat to be had for love nor money. Then I spied a church and wandered in with the express purpose of taking refuge from the tarmac-melting July heat.

As I went to turn my phone off, I noticed the date — July 12th. This is the day when Ulster

I love to go a wandering, down by the chapel door, and as I pass I love to sing The Sash My Father Wore

Protestants who call themselves Orangemen don sashes and bowler hats to march through the province — in particular up and down the Garvaghy Road — for no better reason than to piss off the Catholic residents.

Of course, it was sheer coincidence that I wandered into a Catholic church on the ‘Glorious Twelfth,’ but I don’t think God saw it that way, and God has a long memory. And, being a patient God, he waits until the next time, and then it’s payback. And so I wake up Monday morning before Christmas with the Worst Man-Flu in Living Memory.

So not only am I off work until January, but I’m totally bedridden in Brzeg with a cough so violent as to strain intercostal muscles.

Somehow the week passes. But then, the following Saturday evening — feeling marginally healthier but bored with my own company, two thousand episodes of Breaking Bad and the confinement of the same four walls, I venture out for bread and water only to find myself once more at the back of the Catholic Church.

And on my return — guess what? God, still smarting from my obvious piss-take of entering His House on The 12th, repays me by taking away the only thing in the World Worth Living For — my wifi.

Zilch — gone — no connection.

Frankie say… No More!

No more Breaking Bad — no more anything. Just boredom, and the prospect of beans on toast on Christmas Day to look forward to.

And you know what? New Year was even worse, although I can’t, in all honesty, blame God for this.

By now I’m only coughing three hundred times a minute, but — in Brzeg — he who fails to

New Year’s dinner

prepare for New Year’s Eve must also prepare to fail to find anything open.

Yep… everything closes for New Year’s Eve; even the Church. All but one bar — the Bar Suszy, an insalubrious but welcoming little dive — where I see in the New Year in the company of half a dozen middle-aged, heavy drinking guys, who like me have nowhere better to go. And, of course,  the televisual backdrop of Poland’s answer to Jools Holland, which is truly dreadful. There’s no food, but Suszy produces a family-sized bag of Doritos, served in a receptacle suspiciously reminiscent of a child’s potty, so I don’t starve.

Well… can we still say it on the 11th January? Of course we can if the Christmas decorations are still up…  Happy New Year, amigos!

Okay, that’s enough Brzeg bashing for now. I’m back in Marbs for a fortnight from Saturday, and by the time I return to Brzeg, winter should be well into its dotage.

And who knows, the Christmas decorations may even do down.

Hasta pronto Chicos!


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  1. David Stewart says:

    I had that cough – a muscle to the right of the sternum was so sore – an odd, novel experience!

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