The Krakow funerals

I knew there was never any chance I would get to the centre of the action, but I wanted to be on the streets sampling the mood and eavesdropping on conversations on what was surely the biggest day this city will see in a long while. It felt like we were at the centre of the world for a few hours, a rare enough feeling anywhere in Poland and even more so down here in sleepy Krakow.

Saturday: the day before

The plan for Saturday was to see how the preparations were going for the big day, to walk the route the cortege will take, and to visit the crypt under Wawel where the Kaczynskis will be interred.

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Krakow waits

The television was on as we prepared to head out. After slowly slipping back into the routine of movies, soap operas and ads as the week of mourning progressed, most channels suddenly reverted to the wall-to-wall coverage that characterised the first two days after the disaster. Live footage of the commemorative event in Warsaw was interspersed with still more scenes from the lives of the Kaczynskis. It’s amazing how slowing down video and turning it black-and-white can make anyone look statesman-like and pivotal. The guy who composed the score for the movie Katyn must be making a fortune this week, it’s played every five minutes over yet more slow-motion images of Kaczynski saluting or having his tie straightened by his wife. Dimly overheard from my neighbour, who is obviously watching the same thing: “NATIONAL HERO! HA!”

The main square, 3pm

On any given Saturday you will find gangs of mustachioed men setting up stages, lights and camera platforms on the square. The almost weekly concerts, pageants and commemorations are the bane of city-centre dwellers. Today was no different. Giant screens, stages, floodlights, camera cranes, and serried ranks of seating were everywhere. The only difference today was that everybody was taking pictures of the scaffolding rather than tutting at it.

There was a shuffling stream of people filing in and out of the Mariacki church—the scene of tomorrow’s funeral mass. My wife went inside and reported that a wedding was about to take place. Mariacki is the administratively-favoured venue for mixed marriages, where ‘mixed’ means ‘between real people and foreigners.’ Walking past the side entrance we overheard a stressed-looking English bride in full regalia asking: “Will you be my witness?” Volcanic ash at 30,000 feet must have taken a serious toll on her guest list. I hope her parents made it at least.

Wawel, 4pm

Wawel is to Krakow what the Tower of London is to London; if you live here, you never go. I’ve walked around the free parts but never bothered to buy a ticket. I’m glad I finally did. The cathedral itself is not exceptional, it’s small and cramped compared to Europe’s great gothic examples, but the crypt is well worth a visit. It’s an extraordinary experience to walk among the sarcophagi of some of the greatest names in Polish history. They look as if they’re been there a couple of weeks rather than centuries. The chamber containing the Kaczynskis’ tomb was, unsurprisingly, closed to the public.

Władysław Sikorski tomb

The tomb of Władysław Sikorski–seeing names like this at first hand and how few of them there are raises questions about the Kaczynskis’ place down here that I didn’t have before.

The climb to the Sigismund Bell is an experience in itself. Don’t attempt it if you’re not capable of squeezing into the cupboard under your sink, there are a couple of places where you have to perform a similar manoeuvre as you climb among massive timber beams on a series of wooden staircases. It’s not a scary or long climb, but it is tight. The bell itself is just a big bell, albeit a very old one. I had always believed that it was only rung at moments of exceptional national grief or celebration, so I was surprised to discover that, in fact, there are at least 29 days every year when it sounds: three extra occasions this year.

Sigismund_Bell

The Sigismund Bell

***

More photos of preparations from Krakow Migrant


Sunday: the funerals

I learned two things about Historic Events today: they hurt your feet and the rattle of camera shutters is deafening.

We woke to the news that 14 delegations had been grounded by rampaging volcanic ash. “Poland is on its own again; our allies have been frightened away by smoke from a mountain.”

Kaczyński_funeral_8

A photogenic mourner

Only Poland could have this kind of luck. From an international event it turned suddenly into a very local affair. Medvedev was still coming and the president of Georgia who, apparently, insisted on taking off from Rome volcanoes or no volcanoes; “That’s how you lose presidents,” I thought to myself.

The first hour and a half was taken up with vain attempts to get near the main square. People were drifting from street to street in the hope of finding one that would miraculously provide a grandstand vista. None of them did. We even popped into the second floor office of the Krakow Post with vague thoughts of a window seat, but the view was no better. The crowd was chatty and lighthearted. The most common overheard phrase was “Chodżmy gdieś indziej” (“Let’s go somewhere else”). It was the very essence of milling about.

Kaczyński_funeral_7

Cameras held high and kids on shoulders were the order of the day

With little hope of success we decided to try our luck on the procession route along Grodzka. Jostling along with the crowd I heard a young student complaining to his girlfriend: “Miał być Obama, miał być czad…” (Obama was supposed to be here, it was supposed to be buzzing…”)

Kaczyński_funeral_5

A street plugged with people, just like all the others

At 3 pm, half an hour before the funeral mass was due to end, we made our stand in Mary Magdalene Square (opposite the Church of Saints Peter and Paul) just two rows back from the barricade. Loudspeakers were relaying the service. Most Poles in the crowd knelt at the appropriate moments, much to the surprise of the few tourists around.

With the end of the mass we were expecting the procession imminently. Instead, Komorowski launched into an extremely dull and worthy speech. The guy next to me under his breath: “Dobra gościu, nie jesteś jeszcze prezydentem” (“Alright mate, you’re not president yet”). Then there was something in Russian and, literally, a dozen words in English. BBC World reports that the service was conducted in Polish, Russian and English were wildly overstated.

Brief flurries of entertainment were provided by people attempting to get a better view and, more importantly, a seat by climbing on top of a wall across the street. The pioneers were chased off by the police, but that didn’t stop a new bright spark trying it every 10 minutes. Us pavement people hated the wall people and murmured approvingly every time they were deposed.

Kaczyński_funeral_9

We hate wall people

After two hours that I would never have knowingly volunteered for, the thumping rhythm of the procession finally approached. It was one of those uncanny and disturbing moments when TV-reality becomes right-here reality. The military police Humvee rolled past two arm’s-lengths away and the gun carriage bearing the president’s coffin was right where I had seen it the day before on TVN. What you don’t get on TVN is the sense of a very real wooden box containing the broken and burned remains of a very real human being, and then another one containing his wife, and then his twin brother walking right behind looking utterly exhausted and horribly vulnerable.

Kaczyński_funeral_10

Cameras and coffins

There is a strange contradiction in human behaviour on occasions like this. We want to experience it in person and will stand on hard concrete for many hours to make sure we do, but as soon as the occasion happens, the coffin passes by, or the King waves, or the superstar blows kisses to the crowd, we immediately place our camera screens between our eyes and reality. We want a record. There must have been tens of thousands of photographs taken within five metres of where I was standing. The clacking of computer-generated shutter sounds was like hail. There were no tears, there was no sobbing, there was just a raging hunger to capture the image.

And then it was all over.

There was a certain amount of chaos on the way home because the main road through the centre of town (Franciszkańska/Dominikańska) was sealed off to allow more important people to be whisked to the airport. It’s one of my undying ambitions to be whisked somewhere, preferably to the great annoyance of thousands of lesser mortals. It was impossible to get from the south of town to the north or vice-versa for 45 minutes. People passed the time sitting on the planty flicking through their photos. A shrill-voiced woman passing by said: “Wszędzie tajni agency Secret Service” (“There are Secret Service everywhere”), even though there weren’t.

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Memories of 20-minutes-ago

***

Some more photos:

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Armoured vehicles pelted with carnations

***

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Commemorative posters everywhere

***

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The Polish flag at half-mast over Wawel Castle

***

Kaczyński_funeral_2

Outside-broadcast units on every corner


***

It’s 2 am as I post this. There is a profound and absolute silence over the city. The story is over. What is next for Poland? Somehow, this week, the country  became part of Europe in a way it hasn’t been for decades. Iconic Polish images of a new kind have become part of the modern European story.

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62 thoughts on “The Krakow funerals

  1. Kuba says:

    Do you have a picture of the Orzel tapestry ourstreached that is on Lech’s coffen? If you do can you post it?

  2. former dweller says:

    Well Done.,
    What a fantastic display of human hypocrisy.
    And now begins the back-stabbing, ruthless, and barbaric Polish storytelling, and conspiracy theories.
    …..should be a great week(s) ahead.

    hehehe

  3. Steven says:

    but sir..there,s thick fog, high trees, and this old Russian jet is too big for that small runway…
    Insert Polish joke here….

  4. malaysian says:

    Very well written on-the-ground description of the event without the twisting and adapting of it by the self-interested media.

    I highly admire the “foolish” idea of leaders of some countries who chose to fly regardless of the danger. I think in time like this, these are the real friends who stand by you for better or worse.

    I just wish that those who claim friends of the Polish nation would do more than just paying lip-service, like what they have been doing for a long, long time.

  5. scatts says:

    Spent the entire day trying to spot Jamie and Aneta on the TV coverage.

    Well, not quite, but I do remember seeing that flag with “Skoczów” written on it and as that must have been about the time of coffin-passing it’s highly likely that the back of your head and camera arm were famous for a few seconds!

  6. Pawel says:

    Completely unrelated, but very funny:

    Who has David Cameron been talking to?
    http://www.fridgemagnet.org.uk/toys/dave-met.php

  7. tee says:

    I came to places like onet.pl today with an uneasy sense that it’s going to be horrible… And it’s worse than I expected.

    Those are going to be one hell of difficult weeks.

    But it might be a natural reaction that is normal in grieving process – spitting anger and looking for people responsible for this…

  8. tee says:

    Yes, but such “foolish” behavior is probably one of the main reasons why leaders of those countries came here on the funeral…

    …*cough*of a President whose plane crash*cough*…

    *cough*due to severe weather conditions *cough*

    So I wouldn’t blame them.

    It’s really amazing just how some people in Poland yearn attention, even though the attention has been brought by a devastating event and not something amazing or because we can advertise our successes.
    DO WE LACK AMBITION OR SOMETHING!?!?
    It was an unprecedented event, but I don’t think that at least a certain percent of Polish people – or Polish media – approached it correctly.

    And what about more than a thousand people in China who died in the earthquake?

    What about Mieczysław Cieślar, who had died in a car crash only a few hour ago, while returning from ceremony in Krakow????

    Shouldn’t we call him a hero now????

    Btw. I suggest watching Agnieszka Holand’s “Ekipa” where president of Poland… dies in a plane crash to Afghanistan, where he… goes to prove prime minister that he’s a better patriot.

    From what I see at least SOME guests also made such move. I absolutely hate how Vaclav Klaus used this – still yesterday! – as a pretext to attack European leaders, when he himself was in such short proximity that he came here on train.
    That’s so very friendly and selfless.

    Although I do have a great sympathy for Medvedev to come and I’m looking forward for Russia and Poland cooperating together in a greater level, as – even in a purely pragmatic sense – I think it would be very beneficial for both nations. Russia has been severely hit by crisis and cannot distance itself from Europe anymore and the way to reach for it is through Poland. It’s the same for us, although in different ways.

  9. scatts says:

    Jamie, you wrote somewhere about the Polish media’s need to revel in gory details. Here’s a good example of something that is just not neccessary:

    http://www.thenews.pl/national/artykul129881_passengers-knew-they-were-doomed-to-crash.html

    I fear we will see, if not hear, a lot more of this particular story as well as endless bickering about black boxes and goodness knows what else when it’s all spilt milk now.

    As far as I’m concerned now, what’s done is done, let’s put it behind us. I still think Wawel is wrong but the time to challenge and change that silly decision is past and I’m not in favour of relocation. Wawel and all of President Kaczyński’s new neighbours will have to live with the decision for the rest of history.

    I’m even losing interest in how the accident happened. I’ve just had enough of the whole thing.

  10. guest says:

    Island,

    the so called “Europe’s great gothic examples” were most of the time started in the gothic period but they were often finished late in the 18th century…or even later. For example the westminster abbey, Ulmer Muenster, Cologne Cathedral and so on…

  11. Kuba says:

    Geekon,

    Thanks I was not aware is was the Presidential Jack.

  12. malaysian says:

    I wouldn’t really comment on whether Kaczynski is qualified to be buried in Wawel. Strictly speaking, that’s too much of a Polish matter.

    Likewise, you wouldn’t comment on the choice of place of burial for a dear friend of yours even though the members of his family are split on the choice of place.

    What you said while coughing is pretty true. I mean, if this friend of you died in a freak car accident on a raining day, you probably wouldn’t come by driving if you know its gonna be raining.

    Its probably just unfortunate that you can’t say farewell to this dear friend of yours.

  13. Pawel says:

    Back to the point: now I too think that Kaczynski should stay there, and also don’t really care about further details of the crash. No point in making fuss. He was who he was, and place of burial doesn’t change that. Some Poles have woken up to discover that Catholic Church is an authoritarian institution. Hello!?

    What I’m worried about is the election.

    Also there are some quite mean jokes about Kaczynski and the crash already here in Poland. Overheard in a store…

  14. Bartek says:

    I have to say FD’s conclusion is bitter but not unfounded.

    I am grateful to bishop Muszynski who credited Mr Kaczynski with taking office when Poland was enslaved and setting it free during his term. How nice to be enlightened. Now it’s still sinking to me that between 1989 and 2005 I had lived in an enslaved country.

  15. Bartek says:

    next spooky avatar!

  16. tee says:

    … Where did I say anything about Wawel?

    And I’m sorry, but we’re not talking about rain here, but falling from at least 10 km height with hundreds of other people (on the plane and BELOW) and slim chance of survival.
    I smell a startling difference here.

    No one in Europe likes this ash cloud – it ruins airlines, the economy and prevents people from traveling where they should, probably for very important reasons.

    So I see no reason to treat it as a “mere excuse”.

    A few members of my family will be flying to US for a certain family celebration and – knowing about that cloud and the risk that there might be actually more of it – makes me extremely nervous.

    So don’t mock me.

    And I don’t know what you are talking about “not saying farewell to this dear friend of mine”?
    What is more valuable: official ceremonies or ACTUALLY remembering that person in our own, personal way, that would last way past the mourning period???

    About ceremonies – a great friend of mine said that if something happened then people should wear colorful clothes and keep her ceremony as far from gloomy as it’s possible and not make a great deal of it. She’s totally fed up with how people approach such events.

    And she is a person that a few years back lost someone very close in very sad circumstances. Not to mention that she’s a friend with a person whose family member had died in that plane crash.

  17. Bartek says:

    Scatts, I’m also sick and tired of one particular topic.

    For a while I had some personal hopes that victims at least didn’t know they would die in seconds. Now I hope they died right away, without unnecessary pain.

    Regarding the investigation – I think Poles deserve a report, but we have to mind that death is very intimate – so if the content of black boxes is to revealed, I’d prefer a transcription, not original sound record.

    More and more people no longer care what caused the crash. But I think there is one reason why the inquest has to be completed – to quash conspiracy theories.

  18. scatts says:

    I’m also worried about the election.

    I don’t think Komorowski has ‘stood out’ as much as he could have done. Difficult circumstances but nevertheless, he has not taken the opportunties that existed as well as Tusk has. He will therefore be seen as someone who simply administered between Kaczynski and the next President.

    The question is who’s going to be next? I eagerly await a statement from Jarosław and in my mind it goes like this – if Jarosław announces he intends to stand for President it will take all my earlier negative feelings about the twins and magnify them about tenfold. If he says that standing for President is the last thing he would do (personal suffering, not wishing to step into Lech’s shoes, etc) then I’m happy to stick with my current fairly ambivalent attitude towards them.

    Whichever way it goes, I don’t think I’ll be alone.

  19. Bartek says:

    Well-argued Pawel. Normally my approach to what the Church does in this country is “I couldn’t care less”, but this time, acting “on behalf of the Polish nation” they overstepped boundaries.

    I also fear the election, I foresee a thinly-veiled mud-slinging. The worst is that nobody will dare to slate the former president. But on the other hand I talk to people every day and I believe one thing is their mourning after the head of state (as a symbol of power) and they won’t vote for the twin.

  20. Bartek says:

    and to you Island – quite informative post, from bystander’s perspective. You confirmed my observations the funeral was mostly a social gathering and form of collective diversion. The most important activity of the day was snapping.

  21. island1 says:

    I knew I wouldn’t get away with that one :)

  22. island1 says:

    That was a weird comment wasn’t it.

  23. island1 says:

    I did the same when we got home. Weird creatures us humans.

  24. Bartek says:

    Jamie, it’s me once again. I just noticed you have learnt some Polish slang, such as czad. Therefore, as a fervent afficionado of English-Polish linguistic vacuum I took pains to prepare a quiz which will check how well you know Polish slang.

    Translate the following phrases into English:
    1. opryszek
    2. iść w tango
    3. wykitować
    4. pójść w kimę
    5. na cały zycher
    6. babsztyl
    7. popijawa
    8. nie mieć piątej klepki
    9. wpaść w ciąg
    10. zarywać noc

    Thank you from the mountain for your sppedy answers!

  25. 4 OJ 4,5 says:

    When you speak of “the Church,” you might also more accurately be speaking of those in the hierarchy,who acting on behalf of the Church, have overstepped boundaries.

    Dziwisz was also a big supporter of the scandalous career of Fr. Marcial Maciel Degollado and his Legionaires of Christ.

    See: http://ncronline.org/news/accountability/money-paved-way-maciels-influence-vatican

    Some tidbits from that article:

    “… Maciel had the staunch support of three pivotal figures: Sodano; Cardinal Eduardo Martínez Somalo, prefect of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life; and Msgr. Stanislaw Dziwisz, the Polish secretary of John Paul.

    “Dziwisz was John Paul’s closest confidante, a Pole who had a bedroom in the private quarters of the Apostolic Palace. Maciel spent years cultivating Dziwisz’s support. Under Maciel, the Legion steered streams of money to Dziwisz in his function as gatekeeper for the pope’s private Masses in the Apostolic Palace.

    “One of the ex-Legionaries in Rome told NCR that a Mexican family in 1997 gave Dziwisz $50,000 upon attending Mass. “We arranged things like that,” he said of his role as go-between. Did John Paul know about the funds? Only Dziwisz would know. Given the pope’s ascetic lifestyle and accounts of his charitable giving, the funds could have gone to a deserving cause. Dziwisz’s book says nothing of donations and contains no mention of Maciel or the Legion. The priest who arranged for the Mexican family to attend Mass worried, in hindsight, about the frequency with which Legionaries facilitated funds to Dziwisz.

    “This happened all the time with Dziwisz,” said a second ex-Legionary, who was informed of the transactions.

  26. Decoy says:

    I got this feeling also, especially when the coffins were brought out of Mariacka and were being laid on the gun carriages. The TV shots panned to a long shot and you could see many of those in the front of the seated pavilion area suddenly rushing up, cameras held high to get above others, and snapping away.

    I had also taken a small walk near the centre of Kraków at midday and I could see many people wandering to the centre, but without strong purpose, I felt. It seemed more like many of the attendees were there to say they were there rather than to honour the moment.

  27. tee says:

    Oh no, you see – at some point Europe has abandoned the Gothic style, deeming it as ‘barbarian’ even (seems kind of silly, but that was the case).

    Great Britain, however, stuck to it, therefore they have built things in Gothic style for a very long period.

  28. tee says:

    I don’t think “standing out” would help Komorowski either. Some people look at him as if he’s “stolen” the presidency from now-dead Lech Kaczynski…
    Including one senator from our region, who – shamefully – doesn’t know the Constitution. If SENATOR doesn’t know that it’s what Komorowski had to do, then how about many of Poles who don’t bother to delve into details…???

  29. Pawel says:

    Bartek I love your colourful and creatove phrases:)

  30. island1 says:

    ‘Barbarian’ Hooray!

  31. island1 says:

    I have absolutely no idea.

    2. has something to do with a big fat man painted orange.

  32. scatts says:

    A few stabs from me –

    2. going on a long drinking session – may be gone for some time!
    3. messing something up? Turning it into bullshit?
    6. looks like a word to describe someone who’s fashion sense is a bit old fashioned.
    7. looks like it should mean “pissed as a newt”.
    8. basically saying someone is pretty stupid “lift doesn’t go to the top floor”

  33. siudol says:

    I know we are testing the English how well they know polish slang, but I guess it’s just as good to test ourselves the other way round. So here is my try:

    1. don’t even the Polish meaning ( maybe I’m too old or have lived abroad for too long)
    2. same as above (I’m embarrassed now). Well, maybe to get carried away (?)
    3. kick the bucket
    4. hit the sack
    5. at full blast
    6. a hag
    7. a booze-up
    8. out to lunch
    9. ? (help someone)
    10. pull an all-nighter

  34. Agnieszka says:

    Let’s get something straight. Lech Kaczyski was a great president and that’s what a vast majority of Poles think. People of Poland have been manipulated by the media and now they have opened their eyes. The nation voted with the candles flowers and long queues to pay respect to the president. It doesn’t matter what the media says now as nobody of a sound mind will believe it. Also, the protest against the burial place at Wawel was an organized pathetic propaganda of Platforma Obywatelska and Donald Tust.

  35. Bartek says:

    1. Hint: starts with ‘r’
    2. It is about drinking session, keep trying, I know you know that phrase in English.
    3. kick the bucket is equivalent of kopnąć w kalendarz, hint: it’s a phrasal verb
    4. I meant ‘hit the hay’, but it’s correct as well
    5. Siudol’s once again right – at full blast
    6. you’re all off mark, it has nothing to do with fashion: hint: baba
    7. Siudol – why not booze up, I wanted to see ‘piss-up’, but never mind.
    8. we’re almost on the same wavelength, keep on trying
    9. If I can help, try to think about railway shipment
    10. Siudol got it right for the fourth time.

    So phrases 1, 2, 3, 6, 8 and 9 are still “unresolved for you”

  36. Bartek says:

    “pissed as a newt” is in Polish naj**any jak stodoła na jesieni, literally in English sth like tanked as a barn in autumn

    I’d say crazy not stupid

  37. siudol says:

    3. I’d say wykitowac is to die i.e. kick the bucket fits, but the English have lots of phrases for that, some of them really interesting. How about “to croak”?

    6. I still like a hag. I’m dying as it were to know what yours is though Bartek.

    7. I agree. The minute I hit the send button I realized a piss-up would be much better.

    8. Hmm, again there are lots of them. How about unhinged or bonkers?

    I guess there are many to ways to kill a cat. I am downright intrigued now what the others may come up with. Look forward to seeing other, more colourful ones.

  38. Bartek says:

    3. it means ‘to die’, but wykitować is a bit humorous, like English ‘to *** ***’

    6. you are closing in, but there is another, not so frequently used, five letters longer word to describe a woman you don’t speak highly of

    8. bonkers sounds like szurnięty, unhinged – well let’s use it as a hint – this idiom has technically something (still rather little) in common with door.

    My contest is not closed yet. Four down, six to go! Good luck anyway!

  39. siudol says:

    all right, my last stab:

    3. to conk out

    8. having a screw loose (I guess there can be a loose screw in a door ;)

    I really have to back to work now.

  40. adthelad says:

    I’d actually put the negative campaign down to GW, TVN and TOK fm [and Polandian of course :)]

    I loved Ziemkiewicz’s sarcy comment about how it was a shame that the church and family didn’t consult their decision with Wajda’s LOL.

    I can’t see j. Kaczyński going for the prsidency when the real power is in the Senate and Sejm, but if he did I wouldn’t judge him negatively for it. I would however judge him negatively, if, after deciding to do so, he spent even a ‘grosz’ on the election canpaign. It would suffice to simply announce your candidacy and stand back and let the media do their usual.

  41. Bartek says:

    3. conk out is about a machine, the number of stars is not coincidental

    8. hit

    five down, five to go :)

  42. Anonymous says:

    Wonder if it has something to with “to quit”?

  43. Bartek says:

    “To quit” – neither here nor there.

  44. scatts says:

    Bart, why not just come to the Krakow blog-meet and hold a pub quiz?

  45. Bartek says:

    I excused to Jamie for having other plans for majowka arranged earlier. We’ll make up for this, Jamie and I are already plotting something.

  46. Jacek Wesołowski says:

    Polite people say “napruty jak Messerschmitt” (first foreigner to ask how on Earth could a Messerchmitt be napruty will be kicked bosą piętą w potylicę).

  47. island1 says:

    I’m lost. This is too confusing in a comment thread.

    3. Peg out?

  48. Bartek says:

    the in-between version is nawalony jak stodoła na jesieni and let’s stick to it.

  49. Bartek says:

    peg out is correct, not yet the one I wanted, but you revealed some letters – ‘p** o**’.

  50. island1 says:

    So it’s “pop off”

  51. Ewa says:

    Nawalony jak elewator zbożowy. My favourite.

  52. Grze$ko says:

    Hey, did I see you take the Mariacki photo?
    A lovely female partner and two Canons?

  53. Bartek says:

    I knew you know it.

    six down four to go…

  54. Bartek says:

    This translation competition is closed. The new one to appear soon ;)

  55. adthelad says:

    Thank goodness for that – perhaps we could ‘enjoy’ a translation competition but I for one would be most grateful if it was part of a related web log rather than one that has nothing to do with it.

  56. Agnieszka –

    I don’t think history will assign the adjective ‘great’ to Lech Kaczynski’s presidency.

    “The vast majority of Poles?” Lech Kaczynski’s ratings were in the low 20%s before his tragic demise.

    Agree with you about the Wawel protest though.

  57. Yeah. Way O.T. Start a new thread, Bartek!

    PS – when’s your Polandian guest debut?

  58. malaysian says:

    I’ve got a story about this friend of mine who travelled by land to attend the funeral of a friend of his despite all the flights being grounded. He refused to excuse himself no matter what because he believed in being “there” when it matters not to him, but to those in grief.

    Maybe he doesn’t have stories from closed ones about the danger of flying in bad skies.

    You, my friend, need less of the stories you know, and learn more of the stories you don’t.

  59. Bartek says:

    Our concept is to challenge you with a bunch of coincidental but related to one another words. But Adam, hold back your criticism until the first competition is published.

  60. Bartek says:

    Michael, I sent my first post to Jamie yesterday. From what he wrote back I infered my contest is on queue. Hopefully before the last day of April.

  61. tee says:

    For some reason I cannot reply under the reply… well, no matter.

    My friend – you didn’t know my stories I know and both of us don’t know many things yet. What I know is that I should be with those in grief not on the funeral only.

    If my presence was desperately needed, I’d travel, but – if conditions would be so severe – would you risk it all and give your friends (with high probability) another reason to grieve?

    Don’t forget that this is probably what was the cause of that accident – a pressure for being in Katyn for the ceremony. The pilot has probably risked it all and this is why we are where we are.

    Don’t forget that when flights are grounded and the travel by car would take too long or you are separated from another ground by an entire ocean, then you are grounded as well.
    You won’t be able to grow wings and fly.

    I wouldn’t skip a funeral if I wouldn’t have a choice…. Actually, I was unable to attend a funeral only yesterday. I feel uneasy about it, but ultimately I was in a very tight situation and was unable to make it on time.

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