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

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Plant thief strikes again...

I don't know what it is about plants round here, and I don't know if it's just one person, or a gang in gardening gloves, but there seems to be something irresistible about other people's flowers.

Someone planted these in the carpark round the corner. Not beautifully arranged, and totally unimaginative in terms of mixing colours, but a sweet attempt to cheer the place up.

The pot next to it?

Three gone, and one rudely upturned. Although they seem to have done some weeding while they were at it. Those plants only cost 2 zloty! (That's half a euro for you people who live outside the land of Po.) I know this because I happen to have two of my own on the balcony, bought from the market for that miniscule sum. Who needs plants so much they can't afford a couple of zloty?

Luckily, the plant thief is unlikely to strike a balcony three floors up, but if he/she/they does/do, don't worry, you'll be the first to know.

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Tuesday, June 26, 2007


We did it. The exhibition was on Sunday. Loads of people came and said nice things about it all, it should be going on tour very soon, and if you want to know more, go here...

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Monday, June 25, 2007

And isn't it ironic...

Ms Morissette was a little off in her definition of irony. After all, rain on your wedding day and a free ride when you've already paid is plain old bad luck. I encountered a perfect example of irony last week though.

The magazine that I was recruited for, specifically because of this blog, gave me a new job on top of the cafe reviews and short articles... proofreading.

It was great - a proper desk in a proper office in a proper big tower. They had all the mod-cons like coffee machines and self-flushing toilets... I was like a kid in a toy shop. Or maybe a kid pretending to be a grown up in an office.

On my last day there, I got an article on my desk called 'the best English language blogs in Poland' and got the shock of my life to see boo included in the five that were featured. Of course, having my stories described as 'as interesting as a chewed shoe' and being awarded 2/5 for my writing was, er, interesting? Why I was picked as one of the best five, and then described as 'Jerry Springerly' was slightly beyond me, and my 'headache-inducing commentary on my health' confused me, as I haven't written a thing about as much as a cough for months. Anyway, all publicity is good publicity, and you have to admit it's a classic.

A magazine that recruited me because of the writing on my blog, ripping the writing on my blog to shreds in an article.

Now that's irony.

... don't you think?

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Friday, June 22, 2007

poisoner revealed, thief still on the loose

We hurried through the gate, trying to stop it slamming behind us. We were going to miss the bus, and the film was starting in ten minutes. Stepping around the leads of our neighbour's dogs, we exchanged a quick hello with their owner. A neighbour we know by sight rather than name, she surprised us by calling out to us.

'Excuse me' she said, 'are you the ones with the plants?' My thoughts turned to our balcony and the recent conversation we'd had, wondering whether we were breaking some kind of unwritten flat rule, watering them so much the water dripped down onto neighbouring balconies. I confirmed that we were indeed the ones with the plants.
'I wanted to talk to you,' she said, while I prepared my apologies in my head in my best Polish.

'One day, I saw this bottle of water in the stairwell. I didn't know whose it was, but I poured some in the plant pot. I thought it was looking a bit dry... I meant well!'

I suddenly clicked and realised she was talking about those plants. She went on. 'I noticed it smelt funny, so I took it back to my flat to empty it out. When I poured it down the toilet, it got it ever so clean. I don't know what the chemicals were but they were strong.'

I looked at Marek and smiles crept across both our faces.
'We were sure someone really didn't like our plants and was determined to get rid of them,' Marek said.

'Well yes, that's what I thought you might think, after the stolen one, which is why I thought I'd better own up. I know nothing about the one that went missing, but I'm sorry about the one that died.'

'It's nothing,' I smiled, 'at least we know what happened now.'

'Yes, but who would leave such strong stuff just lying about?' she asked. 'A plant can be replaced, but what if a child had taken a sip? It could have been awful!'

I hope kids aren't silly enough to drink cloudy, foul smelling liquid, but if their mothers are happy to water plants with it, who knows?

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Tuesday, June 19, 2007

An email I received today

Subject: Leeds Alumni Mentoring Network

Do you remember considering your career options in your final year at University?

(Oh yes, I went to a million and one career talks in the last year of both degrees, and considered several options, including the police and an advertising agency or two. Ha.)

Can you recall the stresses and strains of job applications and recruitment fairs?

(Well, the fairs were scary as hell so i generally avoided them, but job applications continue to be the bane of my life.)

Could you share an insight of your career field with a Leeds student?

(Oh, no no no. That is the one thing I coulkd not do. You have the wrong person. You need someone *with* a career. Thanks for the mail though.)

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Monday, June 18, 2007

The street party photo diary

The build-up to the party started on Friday afternoon, when this band of merry men started getting people in the mood with their music making, and random kids rushed around handing out flyers.

I totally missed those enormous bras at the bottom right when I was taking this picture. I don't think they're related to the party, ignore them...

The flyers were something like this poster, taped up at restaurants and cafes up and down the road.

Nice aren't they? All audley-worldy and stylish.

When we finally got up on Saturday (late) morning and went out to get breakfast bread rolls, the street was full of this:

We don't usually have stalls lining our road. Suits it though don't you think?

with this kind of thing going up and down:

not to mention this randomness from the fire station at the end:

Later on, when we went for a second look, we realised the fire station itself was open. Well, you may remember how Marek and I feel about firemen... Ahem. We poked about the fire station's museum (now why haven't we gone there before?) and Marek chatted happily to the firemen about pumps and hoses and other fascinating fireman-related stuff.

They had all the old trucks lined up with the new ones - the old ones just look cute compared to the monsters they have now.

I was a little tempted to steal these, so I could dress Marek up in them later, but decided against in the end.

How cute...

Possibly the most terrifying wax model I have ever seen. Enough to put me off firemen for life. Almost.

Yeah, so we basically get to drive these big babies around, put out a couple of fires and wear the cool gear. It's all terribly important and I can see you wish you were as cool as me...

Enough fire station pictures methinks.

Later on there were concerts and grilled sausages and beer.

On Sunday Marek dragged me to the church basement to look at religious books (and experience the kind of fun you can only really have in Poland). I was idly watching a little girl play with a biblical toy, while Marek rifled through books that had Catholic services in Polish, English, French, German, Russian and Italian (well you never know which country you're going to be in when the urge to pray suddenly strikes do you?) Suddenly the woman supervising the religious book sale grabbed the toy from the child and snapped 'not like that!'

Her mother looked over, surprised and asked what the problem was. 'She was going to break it!' the older woman barked. 'I guess it's a little old for you' the mother explained to the girl, whose bottom lip was wobbling dangerously by now. The girl adopted a defiant expression and announced that she would wait for her mother outside. The supervisor woman looked on unemotionally.

Great, I thought. Nice way of teaching a child courtesy, Christian values of love and tolerance and involving her in the church. Would it have been so didfficult to demonstrate how the toy worked to the child? I mean honestly.

Oh damn. This was supposed to be a photo diary. Crap. Start again.

...concerts, grilled sausages and beer.

Concert during the day

Fire throwing at night

All rounded off with a load of noisy fireworks

Hoorah! The end.

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Saturday, June 16, 2007

A little something to warm that cold heart of yours

We went to Marek's folks' place today. One of their dogs has just had a litter of seven (ouch!) puppies. They started popping out Thursday night and the last one made it into the world yesterday morning. So they were about a day and a half old when I stood cooing over them this afternoon and taking enough pictures to paper the living room walls with.

Squirmy little things, but how cute?

That's how cute. I want a black one. And a brown one. Sigh.

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Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Bonn International School. Hell yeah.

I would have written about this weekend already, but it's taken me this long to recover. Apparently, old friends, cheap beer, gossip, Polish vodka and visits to old haunts (mixed with a large swizzle stick and downed in one) is the perfect recipe for total body failure when you finally make it home.

Now I've slept a bit, and started taking in more than just alcohol and cake, I am ready to face the challenge. It was good. I mean, really good, so much better than I thought it would be.

I knew it would be cool seeing old friends and trying not to giggle while calling old teachers by their first names, but it was good! The best represented groups were my class and my little brother's class (so what if he's graduating from uni next month? Little is a relative term, he will ALWAYS be my little brother, even when he's a grandfather). Enough old students came to pack out the pub, like the good old days. And a current student or two even came and drank far too much, allowing us to chuckle to ourselves and pretend we are all older and wiser now...

The formal bits redeemed themselves with good food and that new school building! Good Lord, those kids don't know how lucky they are (Kids today! In my day...). We made do with peeling paintwork and leaky bunsen burners. They have lap tops and a design technology lab that got Marek so excited I thought he was going to stay all day and build us a little model. The early learning centre made me wonder whether it would be a little over the top to have a baby and move to Bonn, just so the kid could go there. I decided it was. A little. Something to bear in mind though.

So yeah, the trip was good. A few lame people (yes YOU, you really have no excuse) didn't show, but those who did made it worthwhile. We have to do it again. Maybe we'll even manage a gap of fewer years next time.

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Monday, June 11, 2007

if you were there, you'll know what this is :)

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Thursday, June 07, 2007

tschuss tschuss

We're off to Bonn today to squeeze six people in a two-bed flat and have a mighty fine time catching up with old friends.

We are going to walk down memory lane to Bonn International School and hopefully make it early enough for the free drinks.

Then I imagine there'll be some 'OMG I haven't seen you for yeaaaaars' and some 'Jesus! Is that who I think it is?' and maybe even some 'Really? I just don't remember you.'

I'm taking vodka and krakowska, and shall be back with weizen and possibly a slight headache.

Now I just have to pack a bag for 2 days of 32 degrees and 2 days of 23...

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Monday, June 04, 2007

Be a do-gooder

If you have a little extra cash (come on! Some of you have proper jobs unlike yours truly) and you want to do something good, or something to make yourself feel good, without giving the money away to charity, do this!

It is ingenius.

Personal involvement with a microfinance project that lets you lend your money to an entrepreneur in the developing world, helping themselves lift themselves out of poverty and leaving you with your cash at the end of the day.

How can you resist?

(Thanks Huda for the link :))

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Saturday, June 02, 2007

Come on, that's just rude

Remember the plant that was nicked? Weeell, things just got dirty.

The poster won us a battle, but it's clear the war is far from over. Although the first two posters were ripped down, the third stayed in place until a week after the plant went missing and I took it down myself. For a few weeks things went quiet. I noticed the plants on the floor below had been removed, but whether by the owners or by the plant thief, remains unclear.

When the postman knocked on my door to give me my tax refund the other day (I wish that happened more often) he nodded in the direction of the windowsill and asked if we'd got the missing plant back. I told him we hadn't and that we'd put out a replacement and he shook his head sadly, tutting about people nowadays.

A couple of days later, Marek and I were leaving for work, and noticed a half-empty water bottle on the windowsill. It was filled with a cloudy liquid, but apart from remarking on it being a bit weird, we thought nothing of it.

Yesterday, Marek prodded the soil to see if the plants needed watering and noticed the soil of one was surprisingly wet.

Today that plant looks like this:

Not quite dead, but dying, and smelling very strongly of some chemical or other. What kind of loser gets pleasure from killing someone else's plant?

I can almost understand stealing a plant to have for yourself, but killing it? That's just low.

Why would you do that? People, I need tactics.

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