Matt's Home Truths
Alina Myszka was my colleague, flatmate and friend. She played a starring role in my first and most important year in Poland ten years ago and when I walk around Tarnowskie Gory she will be in my mind now and forever. As long as I have memories I’ll have Alina.
Before I moved to Poland the only Polish food I knew was a meal that my mother would make from time to time. She had been taught it years ago by her late Polish father and it consisted of mashed potato with bits of bacon and fried onion and covered with a sauce made from cucumber, cream, sugar and vinegar. My mum said she thought it was called ‘Mizeria’. It was known as ‘Polish Stuff’ in our Welsh house.
If I ask a Pole a question and they answer ‘no’ I have to think – are they answering me ‘no’ in English, which means ‘no’, or are they answering me ‘no’ in Polish…which means ‘yes’? If they answer ‘nie’ I have to make sure I have heard them correctly because ‘nie’ sounds very much like ‘yeah’. Of course ‘nie’ means ‘no’ in Polish and ‘yeah’ means ‘yeah’ in English. Are you confused? I was. The title of this piece of writing is using ’No’ in the Polish way – Is Polish difficult? Too right it is. It is an absolute nightmare.
Let me tell you about a British wedding. The bride and groom meet at the church or registry office or hotel, they stand in front of the person marrying them and they tell each other how much they love each other and then they are married. This is normally late morning. Then they pose for photos. Then more photos. Then a few more photos. Then they go for the wedding reception.
At the British wedding reception everybody has a starter, then a dinner, then a dessert until they’re full and a little bit drunk. Then the bride and groom thank the bridesmaids, the parents, the ushers and anybody else they can think of. They give them flowers and tell them how great they are. Then there is the best man’s speech.