Les gens qui ne rient jamais ne sont pas des gens sérieux

Be who you are and say what you mean, those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind

Thursday, November 30, 2006

surround sound

I blearily opened my eyes. It was still pitch black outside and no alarm had gone off, so why was I awake?

The murmering voice continued, and I tried to block out the sound, close my eyes and go back to sleep.

Why would the neighbours have a radio on so loud I could hear it through the walls? I wondered, especially since the walls in this building are so thick... and it was the middle of the night... I realised it was no use. As long as I could hear the voice, radio or whatever it was I was not going to sleep.

Maybe it's coming from the bathroom I thought, as pushed away the covers and got out of bed. I paused before going down the stairs from our elevated sleeping space - accidents can happen when you're half asleep.

I rubbed the sleep from my eyes and padded down the stairs.

Pretty much fully awake now, I stuck my head through the bathroom door to ascertain whether the sound was coming from there. It wasn't. In fact it was louder in the bedroom. I went back and as I approached Marek's computer the voice got louder. It was a woman's voice, using a tone you associate with radio and speaking, as far as I remember, Polish. I didn't focus on the sense of the words, as I was just concerned with finding the source and switching it off.

The computer was off, but the speakers were on, and without using any kind of logic, I fumbled for the switch. I found the volume and turned it - the voice got quieter and quieter, I found the off switch and turned the sound off completely.

I glanced at my watch. It was 4am.

Before I drifted off again, I do remember thinking, that's very odd...

When I woke up this morning I told Marek what had happened. 'Not possible' he stated. 'You must have been asleep.'

I knew what I'd heard and done, and showed Marek that the speakers were off, although we both remembered seeing the on light as we were going to bed last night. 'But the computer was off!' He protested.

I got annoyed. I know what happened and I know it's slightly inexplicable, but a lady was talking from Marek's surround sound pc speakers at 4am this morning.

Does anyone have a logical explanation for this? Can speaker cables pick up radio waves? Does any radio even transmit at 4am on a Thursday morning?

After all, since when have ghosts started using surround sound?

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Wednesday, November 29, 2006


As the postmen have stopped striking and the (hellish pits of soul destruction also known as) post offices are open again, I decided to go and post a small parcel that's been sitting on the window sill waiting patiently for a few days.

Now, I've not always has great experiences with the Polish postal service, but I was determined to fight whatever came my way with a smile. 'I will not let those bastards get me down this early in the morning' I thought to myself as I pushed open the door.

Despite the post office only having been open for 11 and a half minutes, there were 18 people ahead of me in the queue. I took a deep breath and sat down, in the middle of a sea of old ladies in hats, moaning about various things... ailments, the weather and (rather bizarrely and surprisingly ecologically aware I thought) plastic bags.

I blocked out the discussions and focused on counting down the numbers. My turn arrived surprisingly quickly. 'So far, so good' I thought.

I walked purposefully up to the lady in her post office cubicle and said a cheery good morning. She was so surprised at my early morning cheeriness, she sneezed. 'Bless you' I said, and she eyed me suspiciously. Obviously my excessive kindness and enthusiam was not working in my favour so far.

I passed through the small package and told her it was priority, to England. She took it from me and placed it on the scales. '103 g' she muttered to herself as she turned to the chart with the prices.

She faced me solemnly, 'Pani has a parcel of 103 g.' I nodded encouragingly. 'If it had been less than 100g, Pani would have paid 4 zl, but as it's over, it's in the next category, up to 350g. That means Pani has to pay 10 zl.'

I took a deep breath. If this was all the post office had to throw at me today, I was going to get through relatively unscathed.

'Oh well!' I said with a big happy smile. 'Trudno! I'll just have to pay a bit more.'

She was surprised by my quick acceptance, and eyed me with a kind of wonder, presumably helped by the fact I hadn't shouted obscenities, or even asked her to pretend it was 3 g lighter than it really was.

'If Pani only pays 4 zl, they may not send it!' She said, looking at me worriedly.

'That's ok,' I repeated, 'I'll pay 10.'

'But that's 6 zl difference!' she protested, maybe thinking my maths wasn't up to scratch, 'can't Pani can take something out of the parcel, or even add something to make it closer to 350g?' I was still smiling, although my cheeks were getting rather tired of being held in the position. 'No, it's ok, I'll send it like that' I replied.

She shrugged and handed me the stamps. She'd obviously given up trying to persuade this crazed foreigner with a stuck-on grin, who seemed to have more money than sense, about how to get the most out of the Polish post office.

I don't blame her.

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Tuesday, November 28, 2006


Yay Keith!

In other news, Happy Birthday Mum!!

And, also, just in case you forgot...

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Sunday, November 26, 2006


Polish bureaucracy has finally got the better of me.

Buying the flat? No worries.

Registering in my newly bought flat permanently? Piece of cake.

Registering to vote in the local elections? Easy as pie... or so I thought.

The first time round was easy. I easily overcome the hurdle of not being on the main list by explaining my status as EU citizen, and was soon given various coloured pieces of paper on which to vote.

Second time round, today, I turned up, gave my address, told them straight away that I'd be on the dodatkowa list and waited for my slip of paper. The man eyed me with a smile and said that he remembered me from the last round, but that I wasn't on the list. The lady in charge said she'd call and find out why I'd been missed off. I was sure it was a simple mistake and that when she came back, I'd be handed my voting card.

She returned with a serious expression. "Przykro mi" she started. That wasn't good. "Did Pani go back to the urząd and say Pani would like to vote in the second round?"

"Er, no" I shook my head. "I registered and voted in the last round though."

"Unfortunately, you had to tell them if you wanted to vote in the second round too. Now it's too late."

The friendly man shrugged his shoulders.

It is one set of elections, but foreigners who wish to vote throughout THE SAME ELECTIONS have to inform the ones in charge on every occasion.

Well obviously! Why didn't I guess?

They obviously think I voted for President of Warsaw the first time, but when it came to a head-to-head between the top two candidates, and when my vote may actually count more than the first time round, I suddenly lost the urge to vote. Yeah, that makes sense.

It looks like the lady won, but if that smarmy Marcinkiewicz wins, blame me for not being a mindreader.

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Thursday, November 23, 2006

Quick question

I'm listening to Diana Ross, a song called Remember Me. As I listen I identify something very weird that I've only just consciously noticed about this song. I wonder if you can explain it to me.

So she starts off all, 'go ahead and leave me, I won't hold you down' and she's surprisingly chirpy and tuneful about it. She knows he has some new love, she knows he's going to be happy and 'make it' (what exactly she doesn't share, but he's going to make something).

She goes on to her main point of the song, which is for him to remember her as a good thing. Her various alternatives of things she wants this guy to remember her as are a sunny day, a funny clown (that made you laugh when you were down), a breath of spring, the sound of laughter and with every song he sings, as well as asking him not to forget her in his tender thoughts.

All of that I get. I even understand her slightly bizarre request that he remember her when he drinks the wine (of sweet success, she gave him her best don't you know).

The bit I Do. Not. Get. (hence my little question to you) is the bit where she sings 'remember me as a big balloon.' A big what? A big round brightly coloured plastic balloon, I imagine floating on a little string with a happy child at the end of it? Why? Why would she want him to remember her like that?

Please tell me why she wants him to remember her as a big balloon. Please.

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Wednesday, November 22, 2006

a rather bizarre post that may make you question your previous assumptions about me

If you mention firemen around me and Marek you may notice our eyes lighting up. Its a rather odd passion to have, but I'm sure others have stranger. We have also bought a flat on a road that has a fire station at the end of it, so it's all turned out rather neatly.

We like firemen.

When Marek was young he wanted to be a fireman. Actually, deep down he probably still does. I think the combination of saving people and driving around in a big red truck with ladders and hoses was just very attractive to him... which I can totally understand. If you think about it, all that garb firemen have to wear makes them look just a little bit silly, but you wouldn't laugh at a fireman. You might wave at one (indeed I was known for doing exactly that whenever fire engines rushed past me during my university days), but laugh at one? Oh, no. They command respect.

We had an auction of promises at my primary school once and a few of us won an afternoon at a fire station. We got to check out the fire engines, slide down the pole and look at the control room. The firemen showed us how they store all their stuff so they can grab it quickly, and demonstrated how they put on their protective clothes inside the fire engine en-route to the fire. A fire was reported while we were there and for some reason I got to keep the little slip of paper that contained all the details. It stayed on my pinboard for a couple of years, untidy typing with an address and how many reports had been received, getting more brown and wrinkled over time until it was thrown out.

The ringing bells and sense of emergency was very exciting when I was seven, and maybe that's where this all started. Now, when the firemen leave from the bottom of the road, sirens blaring, Marek and I exchange smiles. If he can't be out there saving people, and I can't be out there waving at them, at least they are out there putting out the fires.

We're admiring them from a distance.

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Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Warsaw delight

Saturday night we went to see Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo, which was pretty great. Where Romeo and Juliet had been floaty and beautiful, the trocks were bitchy and entertaining, especially this guy, who was pure talent on legs. Still, all of it was pretty much a variation on a theme, and as most of the jokes relied on knowing some characteristic features of famous ballet dancers and ballets, we (the uncultured thugs that we are) were left on the outside looking in a couple of times. It's great for a laugh though - I recommend it.

Anyway, afterwards we were feeling a bit peckish (now there's a word I haven't used for a while), and as we were leaving the Palace of Culture Marek said he knew just the place. We walked across the car park and Marek walked up to a beige bus. 'You are kidding' I said, as he opened the door for me. He just smiled.

Inside, I looked around in amazement. The interior of the bus had been kitted out and was functioning as a little cafe. The old bus seats were there, but around tables. The counter, towards the front of the bus had cutlery and paper napkins and a menu was displayed on a chalkboard. We ordered baked camembert with cranberries (posh food and everything) and the guy passed the order to where the driver should have been, from where the smells and sounds of frying were wafting.

We made our way through the smoking taxi drivers to the back, and sat, my mouth still agape at the fabulousness of it all. When the food came, promptly, it was good. The atmosphere was a bit smoky but cosy and it finished off the evening nicely.

The Warsaw surprises keep coming.

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Monday, November 20, 2006

mystic black

I have dyed my hair mystic black.

The mystic bit comes from the fact that it is, in fact, not black but purple. Very deep purple I grant you, but purple all the same.

I think their stocks of 'deep purple' or 'plum wine' were piling up, and they wanted to shift them quick. Rebranding the colour as black was obviously the marketing tactic they chose.

This probably did the trick, but means that people who want black hair end up with this colour...

I used to dye my hair all the time, and then for the last five years it's been normal, original, brown. I got bored and decided to go black. I was slightly unprepared for mystic black, but I'm sure I'll get used to it.

Mystic. Huh.

Edited just to add...

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Sunday, November 19, 2006

Word of the week.... um, month! Ok... half year!

The most recent of my discoveries of excellent Polish words is actually two words that have to be said together. They can be used apart in other contexts but the real magic is when they are said together, preferably while maintaining a stern expression.

Zły wpływ

(zwiff pwiff)

This means bad influence and was used regularly over my birthday weekend, (although I can't think why...)

Example sentence: 'masz zły wpływ na mnie' - you are a bad influence on me.

My gift to you - use it wisely.

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Friday, November 17, 2006


So, Babel. Yeah, it was ok and I liked the way it wasn't a Hollywood cliche with tied up ends and happy smiling people, but the people in the film were cursed with really bad luck. All of them. It's supposed to be hopeful I think, and saying how we should listen to one another despite our different languages, cultures, etc, which I'm all in favour of, but we were kind of left thinking 'oh, but the point of the film?' I know I'm causing filmy people to gasp and weep at my blasphemy, but I wasn't as blown away as I expected to be.

Now Bond, (yes, already! Oh, isn't it? We got free tickets to the premiere Wednesday night, or was it the pre-premiere? Can't be sure...) was understandable in the way that Bond films are. I didn't object to the new Bond too much and the classic Bond elements were well represented (unbelievable death-defying stunts mid-battle, no bleeding after being shot at by tens of men with machine guns, beautiful women falling for his bad boy charms).

[uwaga! spoiler warning! uwaga!]

There's this bit (at what I thought at the time was the end), when Bond goes all soft and hands in his resignation to wander the world with the newly found love of his life and I was all like 'Whaaaat? You have to be seriously kidding me' and (Thank God) they were! The love of his life doesn't stay that way for long and he gets back into the action and forgets about being a new-age caring man.

The best line of that film has to be when Bond goes to the bar, when he's just lost a lot of money to the personal banker of international terrorists around the world, and asks for his standard Bond martini. The barman asks 'shaken, not stirred?' and Bond just looks at him: 'Does it look like I give a damn?' Ace.

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Thursday, November 16, 2006

boots wrapped in plastic

I saw a dead man in the park on Tuesday.

It was pretty distubing really. I saw the ambulance first, and, as I got nearer, the paramedics. They were closing up the ambulance and as I walked past I saw a shape covered in black plastic. Just his boots were poking out. That's why I'm pretty sure it was a man - old scuffed large boots. He was lying next to a bench, on which a second man was sitting, hood over his eyes, not clearly upset or part of what was unfolding, just another homeless man on a park bench.

A group of policemen were standing about, and the whole scene had an air of uncertainty - a 'what shall we do now?' kind of feeling. I hurried on my way, trying to block the image of dead feet poking out of plastic.

On my way back through the same park, over half an hour later, I saw the ambulance had gone. When I noticed the black shrouded figure still lying on the ground my optimism kicked in. Maybe he's not dead, maybe he's just unconcscious and they decided to leave him there to come round. Four policemen were standing nearby all writing in their little notebooks, and exchanging smalltalk. They're probably hanging around waiting for him to wake up. When I passed the group, and glanced at the lying figure, I realised how feeble my hopes had been and that he was never going to wake up. The plastic was wound tightly around his head.

I walk through that park quite a bit, and yesterday as I made my way down the same path, there was no sign of the previous day's scene. I looked at the rows of benches and felt ashamed that I couldn't even pick out the bench he'd been lying beside. I wondered about his life, about his family, or lack. Did he have friends who will miss him? Had he known some happiness and certainty at some point or had his life always been made of park benches and dirty scuffed boots? Then I noticed the one red candle, flickering by the end of a bench. So that was the one. And at least one person does remember him.

Later that evening, passing through the park once again I noticed a second candle had been placed by the first. Both had blown out.

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Wednesday, November 15, 2006


The guy could be a Polish version of Borat... except he's not joking.

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Tuesday, November 14, 2006

What a weekend!

I can't decide what my favourite part of this weekend was.

Seeing the ('seriously, they really look alike!') Kaczyńskis on Piłsudski Square amid crowds of flag-waving Poles, with cannons firing and soldiers marching or coming across this drawing on Krakowskie Przedmiescie...

Being at a club dancing with old and new friends, being mistaken for one of the (thin, scantily dressed, attractive, did I mention thin?) girls who was obviously being paid to dance and lounge about or noticing Kochanek shaking his thang right next to us.

Showing off our new flat and beloved Warsaw, while overindulging in good food and drink to a good Polish-Canadian friend of mine, who praised absolutely everything she was shown, or watching Marek be the perfect host, being patient with her and my Polish, being there (chauffering, cooking, advising, helping, explaining) when we needed him and giving us space to be girly when we wanted.

Voting in my first Polish local elections with a mild hangover, the panic on the face of the man trying to find me on the list and the relief when he was shown the 'special EU list' with its grand total of four names, or the man who came up to one of the people in charge to check that 'this Marcinkiewicz is the one off the tv right?'

Maybe, just maybe, it was just getting all those cards, presents and happy wishes. Thank you lovely people!

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Thursday, November 09, 2006

Channel 23

I ask Marek what he'd like to do after dinner.

'Think I'll just have a look at what's on channel 23.'

We get in from the market on Saturday morning and as soon as the fruit and veg has been unpacked it's 'oh, I need a sit down. I'll just see if there's anything worth watching on 23.'

I come home late from work and Marek closes his engineering text book. 'Let's see what's on channel 23 then we can make some dinner.'

What is this supreme channel I hear you ask? What could tempt this boy at any time of day or night. Some motorbike channel? Guess again. Maybe a cartoon channel, something light? Nope. BBC Prime? No, despite my best efforts he doesn't really appreciate the beauty of British comedy shows yet.

The National Geographic channel.

Now there's a channel that's got his attention. Plane crash investigations, the construction of giant bridges and ship sinking tragedies. That's all he ever watches! Oh there's the odd wildlife show shot on an African plain somewhere, which I'm happy to see a few minutes of, but mainly it's the crash programmes and some (truly fascinating) series called 'extreme engineering' or something.

Bridge building.

Sometimes. The boy. He worries me.

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Wednesday, November 08, 2006


When I first arrived in Poland and the language was still just a hissing spluttering mess of sounds, I tried to avoid putting myself in situations that might require human interaction, which is reasonably difficult for me.

I'd avoid going into shops where you had to ask for the products, and stuck to mini supermarkets, where I could fill my basket and then present the checkout person with whatever the till told me it had cost.

Now though, the language has settled down into a mixture of words I understand and some I don't with an intonation that is no longer startlingly abrupt but familiar, so I don't go so far out of my way to avoid people.

I walked back from town yesterday through our local market, and decided that today the was the day to take my Polish in both hands and offer it up as generously as all the old ladies, who will chat with anyone.

I took up my position behind a woman buying apples and heard her discuss the various benefits of this crisp apple, and that soft pear. The jolly round man serving her listened with a concentrated look on his face, correcting her if his apples did not fit her preconceptions. I noted how she took her time, chatting with the man as if they were discussing important political issues, and getting exactly what she needed.

When it was my turn, and the lady in front of me was packing her apples into her bag, I collected together all my courage and rather than pointing and mumbling, said 'I'd like to make a Szarlotka, so I need antonówka apples right?' The man frowned in concentration. 'Oh yes, but you could also try these', he said, pointing at some others that looked rather similar. 'Oh, I don't know then' I said, wondering if this engaging in dialogue had been such a good idea after all, and trying to look decisive. The lady before me, who was still packing up her purchases chimed in and saved me with 'no, Pani's right, antonówka apples are best'. The man, clearly keen to regain his supreme position as stallholder and fount of expert apple knowledge agreed with 'yes, they aren't so sour' and nodded. 'Right!' I said. 'I'll have two kilos please.'

Rather pleased with myself for my interaction with two whole people, I was startled to find the man frowning at me. 'Didn't Pani buy apples here before?' he asked. I definitely never had, but he seemed quite sure so I said, 'er, maybe'.

'I thought Pani was going to tell me how the cake turned out last time.' he said handing over my apples with a grin. 'No,' I said, 'that wasn't me. Next time though, I'll tell Pan how the cake turns out.' He laughed a big hearty laugh and said, 'yes, do!' and I walked away feeling disproportionately pleased with myself.

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Tuesday, November 07, 2006

goddamn bigots


A bigot is a prejudiced person who is intolerant of opinions, lifestyles or identities differing from their own.

Bigot is often used as a pejorative term against a person who is obstinately devoted to their prejudices even when these views are challenged or proven to be false.

I wrote this on p3 yesterday and I really think you should go and read it, even though wordpress messed up the paragraphs. Beatroot's responded to it, and I'd be interested to hear your views.

It's important.

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Monday, November 06, 2006

"These violent delights have violent ends . . ."

Marek bought us tickets to see the ballet of Romeo and Juliet last night as an early birthday present. (All together now... 'aaaawwwww') It was fab!

I don't think I've been to a ballet since a Christmas viewing of the nutcracker when I was a girl with pigtails, but I enjoyed every minute.

The costumes were beautiful, the dancing was amazing, the music was stirring and we got two intervals for people watching (which was almost as exciting as the ballet itself - big groups of school girls trying to impress the boys in big boots and short skirts, older ladies dressed up to the nines, business men out for the night with their wives, young couples holding hands... it was fun).

I could never have been a ballet dancer (you have to be a chain-smoking tiny light thing with birdlike bones and bags of bitchiness according to a choreographer I once knew) but when the girls were twirling around with their skirts billowing around them, doing dainty turns and stepping about on their toes, I almost felt I was up there with them.

Everyone knows the story of course, and when the lovers died I felt more annoyed than sad (stupid boy, if you'd just waited five more minutes...) but it was all secondary to the visual effect of the music, dancing, costumes, set, lighting all together.

My favourite character wasn't Romeo (men in tights is one thing but men in suspiciously see-through white tights with enormous codpieces is just a little scary); it wasn't Juliet (yes yes love, you're lovely, and you love him and you have a lovely glittery white dress, and oh yes your life is hard. I imagine I'd have to pirouhette all over the place too if I were you); it was Mercutio, whose camp taking-the-piss-while-dancing-actually-quite-beautifully and tragic (long drawn out extravagent) death scene were the most entertaining and heartfelt bits of ballet the whole evening.

It was even better than the Russian-with-Polish-subtitles opera.

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Friday, November 03, 2006


My mother's mother's name was Elsie but everyone called her Nan. To my brother and me she was Nangran.

When I think of Nangran, I am overwhelmed with little pieces of memories, some complete episodes, and some fragments that float about just out of reach.

My earliest ever memory is of her. We were living in Paris and I was three years old. I have a clear image of her stepping down from a coach into the waiting crowd. I am high up, on Dad's shoulders probably, and she sees me and waves.

Back in England we saw her more often, going after school or at weekends to where she lived with Grandad in Gravesend, Kent. Only later did I ever think of Gravesend as a depressing name for a place.

When the new tiny five pence pieces came out in Britain, she said her arthritus made it impossible for her to pick them up, so she saved them in a jar for our visits, and we'd carefully carry our little stash down to the petrol station with Grandad, where we would buy pic'n'mix sweets and chocolate that we would munch happily all afternoon.

She loved poppies and hated elephants.

When she looked after us after school, if Mum and Dad were both working, she'd give me milk with a spoonful of sugar stirred in. It was clear I was not to tell Mum; our little secret.

Her arthritus deformed her hands into knobbled pincers but her nails were always polished pink and the skin on her hands was the softest I've ever felt.

When we stayed the night, we would always watch Coronation Street and play cards. If I hear the theme music to Coronation Street when I'm in England, I'm immediately taken back to her green corner sofa, the polished table on which we played cards, and the busicuit tin that was never out of reach.

She was tiny ('I'm four foot eleven and a three quarters!') and when she had driven ambulances during the war, she had needed a mountain of cushions under and behind her, so that she could reach the pedals.

She always took my side in the 'Mum, I want my ears pierced' arguments. Mum said little girls shouldn't mutilate their bodies, 'but it's pretty' Nangran would say, 'I'll take her to have it done'. Mum held out for a long time.

When we went to her beloved golf club she would show us off to her friends in the eternal grandchild competition. 'Isn't she tall' her friends would coo, 'is she going to be a model?' and I would blush with a mixture of pride and embarassment. 'Everyone thinks my granddaughter is going to be a model', I remember one old lady spitting out one afternoon.

She always praised my Dad, and regularly confided 'I do like a man with a beard'.

Nine days before my twenty-first birthday, Nangran died. Granddad had gone before her, and she had been valiantly struggling along on her own ever since. Physically crippled by arthritus and pained by her old body, Nangran was bright and mentally alert until the end.

In nine days I will turn twenty six. I still imagine Nangran's reaction to things that are happening in my life. I can still hear her voice, her 'ooo-er' exclamation of surprise or admiration and her golden chuckles. She was an incredible woman. I still miss her.

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Thursday, November 02, 2006

All Saints and Souls

We spent All Saints Day the traditional Polish way, visiting graves and standing around talking to family members in graveyards. Coming from a place where people more often than not choose to be cremated, this day is particularly interesting and, to be honest, weird for me.

I stand back as people approach the graves of their deceased parents, grandparents, even children. Signs of the cross are made and lips move in silent prayer, as I witness their tradition, trying not to get in the way. Once the praying is over, conversations are generally jolly, even lively. People catch up with family members they only ever see on special days, hopping from foot to foot to keep warm.

As per usual, various members of Marek's extended family asked me if we have the same festival in the UK, so I explained about Halloween, and the fact that where I'm from, there aren't so many graveyeards... or so much Catholicism.

Marek and I took a stroll, to escape the inevitable winks and wedding enquiries, past people huddled in groups around graves. We talked about death, about burials and cremations, but it wasn't depressing.

I know that in Poland especially, it's important to be able to show your respects to dead family members. Visiting a grave is a way of doing that, as well as giving yourself time for prayer and reflection. My mother's parents were both cremated though, and I don't feel I'm missing out because I can't visit their graves. They're dead, and have been for some time, but I think of them a lot. I wouldn't think of them any more often if I had a grave to visit.

Different people want different things for after their deaths. One old aunt and uncle of Marek's for example, have already paid for and installed their gravestones, which I found obscene to begin with. After thinking about it though, I can see that for them it is important that they have a proper final resting place, and that by organising it themselves, they can put their minds at rest. Still, it's the kind of thing that makes me uneasy.

Marek pointed out that most of the graves were from the last hundred years or so. What happened to the previous occupants? Replaced by corpses whose relatives still remember them and will visit them? I think I'd rather be burned.

The only thing that nearly changed my mind was being at Marek's brothers' grave, and seeing all those graves for 3, 15, 27 year olds. If your child dies, I imagine the need to have a material memorial would somehow be stronger. I can't really explain it, but older people who have lived full lives, are not expected to live forever. Children though, they have so much ahead of them that their deaths are excruciatingly sad. Keeping that child's memory very much alive may seem vital, especially to their parents.

I guess that's what it all boils down to in my mind, although I know it's not logical. Having a grave is somehow keeping the departed in this world. It is keeping a link to someone who is no longer around. Cremation seems more accepting of the fact that the person is gone. They stay alive in the minds of others, but not in a public place, somewhere to fill with flowers and pray before.

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