Then I’m laying out my winter clothes and wishing I was gone… Going home… Where the Polish City winters aren’t bleeding me… Leading me… Going home…
Yes, amigo, you’ve guessed it!
It’s with something approaching euphoria that I write my final Postcard From Poland — at least for now… but that’s another story. As Arnie said: ‘I will be back.’
My days in Brzeg are numbered; seven more sleeps to be precise and I’ll be gone. Down the road through Germany, France, then Spain and finally back to Marbella.
In case you haven’t noticed, I’ve not blogged much recently and this is because I’ve been too busy.
The book… sorry, Richie’s book, has taken up much of my spare time; I’m… sorry… he’s pleased to report that it’s going really well, and will be in the shops or available on the Interweb well before Christmas.
Then there’s also been the search for alternative accommodation and employment back in the Land of The Fifty Pence Pint from October which has consumed my time.
And of course, there’s work and the unwelcome chore of producing end of year reports — or evaluations, as they’re now called. Mind you, the last time I had to write reports was back in the day before word processors (as they used to be called) existed, so the ability to copy and paste speeds things up no end.
All of these distractions have kept me away from the Blogface.
And so, this is probably a good time to reflect on my nine months in Poland.
So, where were we when I last blogged?
A couple of months ago I had a bit of a Mexican standoff with my boss. But after a week of
sulking I spat my dummy back in and returned to work at my — not to be named for legal reasons — school in Brzeg.
You see, beneath this bluff cove I’m an honourable sort of fella at heart and so I magnanimously agreed to put differences with the school owner aside and to work out my contract.
But as always one must learn from experience and, although I have enjoyed working with my students here, that’s quite enough of small language schools for me, thank you very much.
Now some of you have reminded me that way back in the mists of time I promised to share with you my views on the socio-cultural similarities between the Polish and the Irish.
I’ve just returned from a long-overdue trip to Ireland for a business meeting and to catch up with friends, so perhaps this is as good time to deliver on my promise.
But because this is a complex and intricate subject, I’m going to address this one topic at a time.
Let’s start with language; this will be the theme for today’s blog.
As a form of meaningful communication, both Polish and the Northern Ireland interpretation of English only works for those ‘in the know.’ If you were raised beyond the frontiers of either of these syntactical black holes, you would have absolutely no idea of what is being said to you, should you pay a visit to either country.
Let me give you an example, it’s Saturday and I’m trying to purchase some beer and wine from a Tesco Express in Derry (that’s Londonderry to you Unionists). The cashier says something to me, which I gather is along the lines of: it is not possible to pay for that here — but I haven’t a baldy as to what she actually said. And then her colleague — who turns to be Polish — interprets:
‘She says,’ he goes, ‘you cannot pay for alcohol at that checkout.’ Then he adds, with a conspiratorial smile, that the Northern Ireland accent is not easy to understand.
‘Tell me about it,’ I reply. ‘I’m actually from here and I didn’t understand a bloody word she said.’
But it’s not just the accent. Northern Irish (or Norn Ironish) is a completely different language to English.
To illustrate this — and because it’s the exam season — here’s a quiz to test your knowledge. See how many of the words and phrases listed below you can translate into recognisable English.
The answers can be found at the end of the blog.
And if you actually come from or live in Norn Iron (I’ll include Donegal in this) anything less than one hundred per cent equates to failure and a re-sit.
- Let’s start with an easy one: What does “Houl Your Tongue” mean in English?
- What would you be if you were “Cowl?”
- What has happened to you if you find that you are “foundered?’
- What activity would you be engaged in if you were to find yourself “On Da Tear?”
- Who, or what is a “Blether?”
- What information would you be seeking if you asked someone “How’s She Cutting?”
- Translate “Yes Boy” into English.
- What is a “Yok” (NB beware smartarses — this can have more than one meaning)?
- What would you be if you were “Wile Dry?”
- What is the meaning of the term “A Wheen?”
Okay, so that’s the quiz.
Anyone who scores ten out of ten, ‘likes’ this blog on Twitbook and… go on, let’s be greedy… ‘shares’ it, will receive a free copy of Richie’s Losing The Plot when it’s published in November. You can’t say fairer than that, can you?
But what about Polish, I hear you ask?
Similar to Norn Irish, it is totally unfathomable.
Unless you actually are Polish, or perhaps come from one of the neighbouring countries such as the Ukraine or Slovakia, you will not be able to understand a single word.
Utterances from supermarket cashiers in Poland are as unintelligible as they are in Derry; words sounding more like the swishing of a strimmer than the statement of the amount of money you need to shell out.
So that’s it for part one, amigos.
In the next eagerly awaited blog I will do something I have been strictly advised not to do — compare Irish and Polish women. I’m still in deep trouble for my recent comparison of Spanish and Polish women.
In the meantime, amigos, I’m packing away my winter clothes and wishing…
AND… DRUMROLL… HERE ARE THE ANSWERS TO THE QUIZ:
- STOP TALKING
- YOU WOULD BE COLD
- YOU WOULD BE BLOODY FREEZING — THINK POLISH WINTERS HERE
- ON THE PISS? HAVING A FEW BEERS… THEN A FEW MORE
- SOMEONE WHO NEVER SHUTS UP (SEE 1 FOR A USEFUL REMEDY)
- HOW ARE YOU… HOW’S IT GOING (EASY ONE THAT)
- THIS MEANS ‘HELLO’/’HI’
- THIS USUALLY REFERS TO A CAR… BUT IT CAN BE APPLIED TO ANY INANIMATE OBJECT
- VERY, VERY THIRSTY. AN URGENT NEED TO GO ‘ON DA TEAR’
- A SMALL CHILD OR BABY… BUT IT CAN ALSO MEAN A FEW.
Hmmm… you see it’s not that easy!
Hasta Pronto, chicos!