Tarnowskie Góry Through John Lennon’s Glasses

There are places I'll remember
All my life,
Though some have changed
Some forever, not for better
Some have gone and some remain
All these places have their moments
With lovers and friends I still can recall
Some are dead and some are living
In my life, I've loved them all

Ever since I first heard it, my favourite song has been ‘In My Life’ by The Beatles. I was hit straight away by John Lennon’s words about how people and things in his native Liverpool changed over time. I feel the same way about Tarnowskie Gory.

I first came here in 2005 to teach at Golden Gate. I was The English Guy (who was really from Wales) and stayed for just over two years before going back to Britain to become a policeman. More than a decade later I retired from the police and, for the last couple of months, I have been back teaching at Golden Gate and getting things ready for my wife and daughter to join me here. When I walk around town and see how things have changed, I hear Lennon’s lyrics in my head.

Here are a few of my TG memories inspired by ‘In My Life’. I will only look at the first verse and chorus. I’m worried if I do the whole song Yoko Ono might sue me.

There are places I’ll remember
All my life

Where to begin? Kurna Chata where I first ate a rolada? The church on Opatowica where I got married in 2011? These were both life-changing moments. One of them is obviously much more important than the other.

It’s the rolada. I hope my wife doesn’t find out.

Though some have changed,
Some forever, not for better

A lot of places have changed. Conieco is Sherlock, the video shop is a pancake place and the bus station is much improved.

There is a new extension at the back of Wojtacha, I remember when it was a beer garden in the summer. In 2006 this is where I met the girl from Ohio who would become Mrs Williams. It looks better now but I still like to remember how it was that special night.

Some have gone and some remain

I hope the places that remain will remain forever. Like Park Miejski, where I used to go jogging back when I was thin, and Galeria, where I had my first beer in Poland. The first of many. That’s probably why I’m not thin anymore.

One place that has gone is a bar called Piotruś in Ohio. I went there a lot in my first year. It was...interesting. One time there some drunk guys heard me speaking English on the phone and shouted ‘James Bond’ at me all night.

I miss Piotruś but something I miss more is a public telephone that was on a nearby street corner. In 2005/2006 I stood on that corner, in sun or snow, every Sunday at 6pm waiting for the phone to ring. It was my mother back in Britain. This was the best way to keep in touch with my family back then. The phone isn’t there anymore. I get it - when was the last time you used a public telephone? Hundreds of people walk past that empty corner every day and they will never know how much it meant to a lonely Welshman and his mum in 2005. Every conversation we had was so expensive and precious.

Now we could talk for free all day on Facetime or Skype, but, to be honest, I’d rather not. I hope my mother doesn’t find out.

All these places had their moments
With lovers and friends
I still can recall
Some are dead and some are living

I have so many wonderful memories with different people. Walking at Chechło with my friend Ben, playing guitar at the opening of Wrochem with my group The Golden Gators and eating ice cream in the Rynek on holiday with my daughter Zosia.

Sadly Alina - my fellow native speaker and flatmate when I started at Golden Gate - passed away a few years ago, far too young. I remember her showing me the way to walk across the empty fields from Ohio to Tesco. Now those empty fields are full of houses and offices. We went together to Onyx, Wiśniowy Sad and many other places for the first time too. Alina is still with me when I walk around TG. She probably always will be.

In my life I’ve loved them all

This place has always felt like home. After I retired from the police, my wife and I decided it was time to move back. While Lennon never returned to Liverpool, we are coming back to TG for good. The town will always be changing and my little family want to be a part of its future. I hope to be The English Guy (who is still from Wales) for generations to come.

I have only known the town for fourteen years, I can’t imagine the change others have seen over the decades. There must be a lot of TG residents with far more interesting versions of this song than mine. I’d love to hear them.

Tarnowskie Góry can be a wonderful place. I hope my daughter finds out.