Polandian supports Poland’s Independence Day


Raising the Polish flag. Congratulations on 90 years

Ulica Retoryka is a long straight street. As I strolled down it in the November sunshine I could see the drama being played out from a considerable distance. Pan and Pani Kowalski, a pair of barely ambulatory octogenarians, were trying to put up their Polish flag for Independence Day. They were seriously hampered in this endeavor by the fact that than neither Pan nor Pani Kowalski were much above 5 foot (150 cm) in height and well beyond the age where standing jumps of more than a couple of millimeters are feasible. The buildings of this district are grand and have suitably grand entrances, which places the flag socket over the door a good 10 feet (3 m) above the ground. They had a step ladder, in fact they had two step ladders, but this wasn’t helping much.

Pan Kowalski climbed his ladder with glacial slowness and considerable trembling, flag gripped between his teeth, and completely failed to stretch far enough to reach the flag holder. Pani Kowalski snorted with laughter at this pathetic showing, grabbed the flag and proceeded to climb her own ladder with ever greater slowness and trembling, only to fail by the same margin. They were flailing around up there like a pair of demented apple scrumpers. The top of the door was taking a hammering but the shaft of the flag was coming nowhere near the mark. This to-ing and fro-ing up and down ladders accompanied by shrill bickering must have been repeated three or four times before I drew near. Pani Kowalski, perched at the top of her ladder, fixed me with a steely stare, noted my height and uttered the inevitable pleading “Proszę pana… !?”

And that’s how I came to raise the Polish flag on the eve of Polish Independence Day. It felt weirdly traitorous and patriotic at the same time. Does a Polish flag planted by an Englishman still count? Do I have to go and apologize to the Queen or something now? It’s a tricky area. Pani Kowalski was delighted by the whole concept and I left her gasping for breath between fits of laughter. Pan Kowalski was extremely polite in his thanks but I’m sure I detected a hint of wounded national pride. When he was born Poland itself was an infant of three or four years. I bet he never foresaw the day when he would have to depend on passing foreigners to put his flag up.

I’ve commented before on the generally short stature of Poles down here in the south, and my theory that this is due to excessive walking up and down mountains has been duly noted and accepted by the European Commission for Idiotic Theories. It turns out there is a downside. The most enthusiastic flag raisers are the elderly, who are also the shortest. They just can’t reach, even with a stepladder.

I’ve prepared a couple of simple graphics to illustrate the problem:


Even with a pair of acrobatic babcie the flag holder is tantalizingly out of reach:


Come next May I will be prepared with an ad in all the local papers:

Too short to put up your flag? Ladder not long enough?

Tall foreigners will come to your house and do it for you!

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22 thoughts on “Polandian supports Poland’s Independence Day

  1. Gabriela says:

    Hello Island:
    Someone said moonlighting? LOL.
    All the best from Lima.

  2. expateek says:

    Too funny! You should have prefaced this with a warning label: “No hot liquids whilst reading, please!”

    The graphics are especially helpful/hysterical. Outstanding work!!

  3. Bob says:

    Very good post however I should point out that I surmise you encountered ‘Pra-babcia’ not Babcia. Current Babcia’s are the extended version of the 80 year old’s you found on your travel. This evolution has no doubt been a result of Darwin’s theory of evolution whereby the taller offspring from said Pra Babcia have made the leap to survival vs the compact versions.

    As you will note in the supermarkets most Babcias are of the taller variety and have the ability to reach over you when you are stopped perusing a shelf. The shorter, diminutive versions are only typically seen in the ‘rynek’ environments.

    However, with that (possible) clarification/comment) your post was great!!

  4. Negrin says:

    The graphics are made of win! Have yourself an internets, island1, you deserved it.

  5. Ewa says:

    Have someone already told you that you are a comedy genius, Island? :):)

  6. island1 says:

    You are all too kind, thanks. I’ll have to go and look at some of my “you are a moron” comments on other posts as an antidote.

    Bob: I’m not sure babcie are subject to Darwinian laws, I think there were placed directly on earth by god in their present form sometime during the Jurassic period.

    Gabriela: I fully expect this to turn into a multi-million dollar business by the end of the year.

    expateek: *the author of this post cannot be held responsible for any spillages, abrasions, or organ failure that may occur as a result of flailing about in hysterics. There, that should cover it.

    Negrin: I will spray my internets gold and have it mounted on the wall above my toilet.

    Ewa: No. Why don’t you pop round after work and tell me in person.

  7. Bob says:

    “Bob: I’m not sure babcie are subject to Darwinian laws, I think there were placed directly on earth by god in their present form sometime during the Jurassic period”

    You may very well be correct – there is a possibility that the Mohair Beret’s have acted as a type of shield protecting them from the ravages of global warming during this period and will serve them well during the eventual cooling down period.

    On the other hand however, they actually may be good examples of the Darwinian process in that they have remained constant while life forms around them have mutated

  8. expateek says:

    mmmm, I think “Bob” is a flippin’ genius. He’s got the Darwin stuff totally knocked!

    Nobel science prize, anyone?? PLEASE do invite me to the ceremonies. I have my beret ready also (I’m slightly aged, but not really!). Happy to represent Poland, though I am not qualified, as I’m one of those detestable “expats”.

    Oops. Sorry. I’ll go away now!

  9. Enso105 says:

    The graphics you made are small pasterpieces. I would hang out the white-red flag myself, but it was eaten by moth-worms last year. Now I only have the remaining red. Can I still hang it outside my window?

  10. Comarade says:

    Sorry, I had to add it to wykop.pl ^^

  11. island1 says:

    Comarade: You only did what was right.

  12. Puma says:

    Pozwólcie, że rzucę okiem na te babcie jeszcze raz.

  13. scatts says:

    Island – you are my graphics guru! Where DID you find a babcia silhouette?

  14. zlocisz says:

    I read this article, and must say, You know nothing about Poland, Polish citizens, and culture.

    For what You’re writting I should punch your face, bastard…..

  15. island1 says:

    zlocisz: That’s a very comprehensive conclusion to come to after reading a few hundred words. Perhaps you’d like to tell me how you arrived at this amazing deduction, or is insulting people and threatening to punch them in the face just your standard method of disagreeing?

  16. island1 says:

    scatts: I found it in my Babcia silhouettes folder, where I keep the babcia silhouettes I make on long winter evenings. Btw, is this guru position a paying gig?

  17. guest says:

    interesting photos.


    maybe scatts could use them for a nice little “now and then” series ;)

  18. scatts says:

    zlocisz, if you didn’t like this one you should read the rest! Jeez, they really would get you going. You’re not a friend of Ania’s are you? (sorry Ania!) ;)

    island – aha, the babcia folder, I should have known. Guru’s get their rewards in heaven.

    guest – agreed, they are very interesting and a few of them would make for a good ‘now and then’ piece if only I could clone myself to find the time needed to do it!

  19. island1 says:

    guest: Great photos. Thanks very much. I love the color ones in particular.

  20. guest says:

    scatts, of course not “now”. The weather is too bad. Maybe next year ;)

  21. Sylwia says:

    Too funny! Of course you were delighted to help. A true English gentleman!

  22. Dawid says:

    Hilarious! And comment number 3 by Bob is just as funny :)

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