There is no easy way to explain why I was listening to Woman’s Hour on BBC Radio 4, so we’ll just assume there was an inexplicable internet protocol error that prevented me from listening to classic rock like a real man and leave it at that. One of the regular features of Woman’s Hour is a drama segment, usually featuring salt-of-the-earth women being let down by their men and achieving redemption through bio-active yogurts and consequence-free affairs with swarthy exchange students – not that I would know anything about it.
Last week it was the tale of a Polish housekeeper and her first-hand account of the breakdown of her employers’ marriage. The segment, billed as a “domestic thriller” was called A Domestic and caught my ear because it was based around a Polish character. It caught my ear even more forcibly when I quickly realised the actress playing the Polish character wasn’t Polish and had a very hazy idea of what a Polish accent sounds like. This became particularly hilarious when they slipped Polish phrases into the dialogue.
Mariola, the eponymous domestic, is played by Lydia Leonard, who is of Anglo-French-Irish extraction. I’m sure she’s a lovely lady and highly talented, but why couldn’t the BBC have found a Polish actress to perform the part? There must be thousands of them kicking around London these days.
Maybe there is a good reason why Polish actors and actresses can’t be employed by the BBC – something to do with equity cards or some other sophisticated showbiz shenanigans I know nothing about. This was only part of the problem. The writer, Peter Jukes, seemed to be just as hazy about Poland as the actress was about the accent. Mariola, like every other domestic in the history of drama, is terrified of being sent back to to her rubbish country if she makes any waves, which is a plot device that hasn’t made any sense for a Polish character since 2004. This is partly explained away by making her an ethnic Pole from Belarus, which kind of begs the question why he didn’t just make her Belarusian. She also has some bizarre superstitions. I’ve heard the one about not putting handbags on the floor because it encourages money to escape, but is there really a Polish superstition saying you shouldn’t buy your wife shoes because she will walk away from you, or gloves because she will wave goodbye? Maybe it’s a Belarusian thing.
The BBC television sitcom Lead Balloon also features an “Eastern European” character played by a British actress. Magda (definitely not Polish then), played by Anna Crilly, spends much of her onscreen time being perplexed and stolid, as in this scene where we learn that Eastern Europeans have apparently never come across sophisticated concepts such as lying so as to avoid hurting someone’s feelings.
And to finish, a sketch from Armstrong and Miller that looks like it’s incredibly insulting to Poles, but turns out not to be…
With high figures showing the negative attitude of Poles towards legal homosexual unions, Tomasz Szypuła from the Campaign against Homophobia muses that they are the result of the fear of Poles towards different values and ideas. “Many Poles do not even have any gay or lesbian acquaintances, so their opinion on homosexuals is based on what they see in the media,” Mr. Szypuła sighs.
Three questions to get us warmed up.
How many Polandian readers have gay or lesbian friends? (I do, so that’s one.)
How many agree with gay adoption and gay marriage?
Is there any ‘media’ about gays in Poland??? (other than Tinky Winky of course)
Actually, I have a question of my own to our resident gay experts – why is it neccessary to say “gay & lesbian”? I though gay covered both sexes? Seems to be defeating the object somewhat for gays, or is it just reporters, to get all sexist and hung up on the terminology?
Anyway, onto our next question:
One of the reasons that the results are so negative towards same-sex unions is explained by social psychologist Dr. Norbert Maliszewski from Warsaw University, who believes that the increasing amount of gay-rights marches held in Polish cities has had a reverse effect on Polish society, as reflected by the poll.
Do you think gay-rights marches hinder the gay agenda, or do you think Norbs is full of it?
And our final question is:
In response to the figures, Professor Zdzisław Krasnodębski from Bremen University says “it shows that Poland still has a society drawn on traditional values, and is not succumbing to Europe-wide trends.”
Zdzisław in Bremen thinks Poles are still clinging onto traditional values and are reluctant to embrace Europe-wide trends (like accepting gay marriage and adoption one assumes). Do you agree with this as a general statement or are traditional values only held for certain things? For example, many seem to have embraced the European trend of migrating to find better work. Many have found the trend of credit cards and cars better than Maulchs to be something they can embrace. Loads have embraced going abroad for holidays, McDonalds, American TV serials, paying less than a zillion PLN for car insurance, private healthcare, branded clothing, internet banking, internet eveything, films by the people who made Shrek………….Where is the line between embrace and reject?
It seems all those who keep whining about how poor Poland is are actually right! Poland comes fourth from bottom of the EU “rich list” judging by GDP per capita (as expressed by Purchasing Power Standards which eliminate price level differences between countries).
The only countries to be worse off than Poland are, in descending order;
Latvia (crisis stricken – definitely)
Romania (overrun by gypsies, dead dogs & thieves – allegedly)
Bulgaria (in the grip of the mafia – allegedly)
Doesn’t look good, does it! [That’s one of those ‘question tag things – feel free to ignore it]
Finance Minister gets a close shave
No wonder Tusk is looking so miserable. His minister of finance seated next to him, Jacek Rostowski, survived a vote of no confidence yesterday by 223 votes to 193, not exactly encouraging. It’s pretty easy to understand the concerns though. Looking back at an article in the Economist from a year ago we see that Tusk’s government was predicting a budget deficit this year of 1.3% of GDP, well within the EU 3% guideline. A year on and we’re looking at a deficit that is predicted to be a whopping 6.6% of GDP and stern words from the EU to get this back under control.
I have trouble believing that the economic crisis has unexpectedly deteriorated by such a magnitude in the last 12 months so I think it’s fair to ask questions about the competence of this government’s financial management and forecasting. One thing for sure, we won’t be enjoying these lower tax rates for very long!
Want a Polish Master’s degree? Got €330?
So the truth is out, we finally know why there are so many Poles with Master’s Degrees – because there’s a roaring trade in downloaded pre-prepared theses. For just €330 you can buy yourself a Master’s thesis on any subject you like, but why stop there? For €3,000 you may as well go the whole hog and get a Doctoral one!
For some people writing dissertations on demand is the only source of income and they earn up to 3,000 zlotys (660 euros) a month. Internet shops which specialize in writing Master’s, Bachelor’s and Doctoral theses, and employ the whole teams of “experts” are also thriving.
This doesn’t surprise me in the slightest. Not that Pole’s aren’t as smart as we thought they were but that they are smart enough to find find ways around everything, usually involving a download and a profitable business opportunity. What they lack in thesis writing ability they make up for in street savvy.
The next Polish sporting hero is……..
For sure going to be Agnieszka Radwanska, the tennis player who is currently competing at Wimbledon. Yesterday, she won a very tight second round match against the unseeded Chinese player, Ping Pong (surely shome mishtake – Ed). I expect to see Aga crowned as the Ladies Singles champ pretty soon and for a Polish media frenzy to follow immediately thereafter. Her younger sister, Urszula, who is also playing at Wimbledon this year, sadly lost her second round match against Slovakian Dominika Cibulkova (something to do with onions perhaps?) and so will be taking an early bath. Give it a couple of years and we’ll be toasting “the Polish Williams sisters”. What am I talking about, let’s toast them now, who cares if they won anything yet! GO GO RADWANSKA SISTERS!!!
We’re back with the all-male finals of our Hottest Polish Politician contest. We are looking for one guy and one gal to become the Hottest Polish Polish Politician of the year. We will send the lucky winner a bilingual diploma they can hang in their office and show off to their friends.
Last week the women’s final was featured on the national nightly news programe TVN Fakty. We’re too scared to imagine where this week’s contest might end up… 80% of the 460 Members of the Sejm are men – if this balance was recreated in out contest, we would have 40 male contestants.
Both contests will last one more week and then we announce the winners! Yay!
Contestant number 1
Sławomir Nowak is a 34-year-old MP from Gdańsk representing the Civic Platform party (centre-right) since 2004. Currently he holds the position of Secretary of State at the Chancellery of the Prime Minister of Poland. He is also the head of Prime-Minister’s political cabinet. He graduated from international relations at Gdańsk University and from management at Gdynia Maritime University. He has worked in advertising. Politically he was involved in liberal youth movement.
When you’re ready Mr Nowak we’ll try it on the water shall we?
On his way to the Madonna concert
Contestant number 2
Paweł Olszewski is a 30-year-old lawyer from Bydgoszcz, who also happens to be Civic Platform MP (centre-right). He manages exports for a furniture manufacturer. He was a spokesman for his party in the Kuyavia-Pomerania region and for three years he was a member of Bydgoszcz City Council.
In his own words: “My participation in socio-political life are a result of the wonderful years I spent in the Young Democrats association. There we learned how to successfully fight for our rights and take an active part in local political life.”
Okay, so I hit the yellow ball with the stick, right?
At the More Rights for Gingers rally
Contestant number 3
Dawid Jackiewicz is a 36-year-old MP from Wrocław. He represents the Law and Justice party in the Sejm. During the Kaczynski era he held the post of Deputy Minister for the Treasury.
He should relaunch his website so that we could write something more about him.
Law and Order
Caught by a tabloid photographer in a shopping centre during an important parliamentary debate! Naughty… but who doesn’t understand a passion for shoes?
Contestant number 4
Michał Jaros is a 28-year-old MP from Wrocław. Born in Aleksandrów Kujawski (Kuyavia-Pomerania) he moved south to study at the Wrocław University of Economics. There he became an active member of a student’s union. Local Civic Platform noticed him, and offered a place on Wrocław City Council lists. He was elected, and after two years he was offered a good place on parliamentary election list.
His campaign became famous when he used a picture of a woman’s bum in tight jeans on his leaflet, coupled with the slogan “satisfaction guaranteed”.
DNA tests to prove he’s old enough to be an MP
At the student’s union bash
Contestant number 5
Michał Marcinkiewicz is, at 25, the youngest MP in the Polish Sejm. He represents Civic Platform and his home town of Szczecin. From 2002–04 he worked in the European Parliament. He is the president of Morze Bałtyk Szczecin volleyball team.
In his own words: “I can honestly say – Szczecin is my city. I was born and raised here. Here I got my education and my first professional experiences. Here I met many good and interesting people. I feel a strong emotional bond with this city, and since I remember I wanted Szczecin to be the place to live comfortably.”
♫ Voulez-vous (aha!) Take it now or leave it (aha!) Now is all we get (aha!) …. Nothing promised, no regrets …. Voulez-vous (aha!) Ain’t no big decision (aha!) You know what to do (aha!) La question c’est voulez-vous ♫
Contestant number 6:
Łukasz Zbonikowski from Toruń is a 31-year-old lawyer and an MP representing the Law and Justice party in the Sejm. He is a professional politician: after experiences with the students’ union he began a career in the City Council of Włocławek in 1998, and was assigned to several political posts. He is the chairman of the Polish-Irish Parliament Group.
A Cypriot hotel accused Mr Zbonikowski of destroying a golf cart. The Speaker of the Sejm suspended his right to represent the Polish Parliament at the Council of Europe.
Mr Zbonikowski is a basketball enthusiast
With children who came to see the very building where all the silly laws are being created
Contestant number 7:
Donald Tusk from Gdańsk is a 51-year-old history graduate, an MP and the current Prime Minister of Poland. His Platforma Obywatelska party (centre-right) won the 2007 election. During the communist period he was actively enganed in opposition, for which he was fired from his job. For seven years had been doing physical work in a co-coperative society. After the collapse of communism he was active in politics in liberal movements. He is one of the co-founders of Platforma Obywatelska.
He plays football every Thursday evening.
Scarf, 29.99, winning the election 29,000,000.00, seeing your opponents defeat live: priceless
Mr Tusk at Mme Tussaud’s
Contestant number 8:
Paweł Poncyliusz from Warsaw is a 40-year-old MP (since 2001) representing the Law and Justice party in the Sejm. Since childhood he has been involved with the scouting movement. He studies history at the Warsaw University. For 8 years he was running his own business. He became famous when he agreed to a tabloid Fakt proposal to live for just 500 zł (120 euro) a month – the amount equivalent to what is left from a minimum wage after paying bills. The most popular Polish paper reported on his adventures everyday for a month.
In his own words: “Recently I became interested in impressionist paintings and Flemish painters”.
The White Party
Always make sure there is no farting pillow on your seat when in public
Contestant number 9:
Damian Raczkowski is a 34-year-old law graduate and an MP from Białystok. He represents the Civic Platform party (centre-right) in the Sejm. He worked as a labour inspector (for a government institution controlling how businesses observe workers’ rights), and a realty manager for a local branch of Polish Rail.
Mr Raczkowski loves martial arts and has been training in taekwon-do for many years and holds a black belt. He also enjoys swimming, bicycle riding, tennis and snowboarding.
Hanging out at the Alma Mater
Artistic shot with pregnant wife – would make great Gala cover
Contestant number 10:
Jakub Rutnicki from Szamotuły is a 30-year-old political science graduate and an MP representing the Civic Platform party. He was one of the finalists in the Polish edition of Pop Idol. Mr Rutnicki is a sports enthusiast and plays football and volley ball. He also completed water rescue training. In his region of Wielkopolska he organises a beach volley ball cup bearing his name.
In his own words: “The Poland of my dreams is a country where people are proud of their homeland”.
I asked for a latte, not a cappucino
Oooops… If these are the top secret government papers, where are the beach volleyball results?
Due to popupar demand from our regular readers the following contestants have been added in the last moment:
Contestant number 11:
Radosław Sikorski from Bydgoszcz is a 46-year-old PPE graduate of Oxford University, an MP and the the current Polish Minister for Foreign Affairs. Previously involved with the Kaczynski brothers’ Law and Justice party, acted as Minister of Defence in their government. Before the 2007 election he joined the Civic Platform party.
Between 1981-1989 he lived in the United Kingdom as an asylum seeker due to his involvement in Polish anti-communist opposition. During that time he worked as a correspondent for such British newspapers as The Sunday Telegrph, or The Spectator.
He is married to a well known American journalist Anne Applebaum.
Bacstage at Milan Fashion Week
– Would you be so kind and join our war? Pleaaase? – Oh… I don’t know…
Contestant number 12:
Wojciech Olejniczak is a 35-year-old MP (since 2001) from Łódź representing the Democratic Left Alliance (social-democrats, heirs to the communist party). He is a farming market graduate and management graduate at the Warsaw University of Life Sciences, holding a PhD degree in economics. Between 1999 and 2000 he was the president of Peasant Youth Association. From 2005-2008 he was the chairman of his party. During the Leszek Miller government he acted as the Minister of Agriculture.
Inteviewed by Joan Rivers - live from the red carpet
Don’t watch the news?! – See what you’ve been missing! Polandian presents the best looking and sexiest lads and lasses in Polish politics… We are looking for one guy and one gal to become the Hottest Polish Polish Politician of the year. We will send the lucky winner a bilingual diploma they can hang in their office and show off to their friends.
This week we’re voting for the sexiest female politician. Come back next week to vote for the men!
Contestant number 1
Iwona Guzowska is a 33-year-old multiple World Championship medalist in kick-boxing and boxing from Gdańsk and has been an MP since 2007. She represents the Civic Platform Party (PO, centre-right).
She is involved in charities that aid sick children.
Contestant number 2:
Iwona Arent from Olsztyn – this 41-year-old member of Law and Justice party (PiS; conservative/social-right) has been an MP since 2006. She is a political scientist.
In her own words: “I got my patriotism from my grandparents, my grandfather was a Home Army soldier sent to Siberia after the war. The tales I heard from my grandfather, grandmother and parents shaped my love for Poland.”
Style and grace… is that a Jennifer Aniston hairdo?
Obligatory Sejm photo
Contestant number 3
Magda Gąsior-Marek is a 26-year-old banking graduate and an MP from Lublin. She joined the Civic Platform party in 2005 and her political star launched soon after. She soon won a Lublin City Council seat and then made it into the Sejm. She promotes blood donation and good manners on the roads.
Her political idols are: Cardinal Stefan Wyszyński, Margaret Thatcher, Eugeniusz Kwiatkowski, Mother Teresa of Calcutta, St. Maximillian Maria Kolbe, Milton Friedman and Adam Smith.
Look mum, I’m in the Sejm!
Likes to spend time around men with big choppers
Contestant number 4
Małgorzata Tkacz-Janik is a 44-year-old member of the Zieloni 2004 Party (The Greens) in Gliwice. She’s an academic and social activist and a specialist in the theory of literature and marketing communication. She organises conferences about sustainable development in her home town of Gliwice and motivational trainings for unemployed women.
In her own words: “Three issues are most important for me in my political and life plan: the rights of women, the quality of life where one lives, and social and cultural education of children, youth and adults.”
The sultry, flyaway look
Put it away dear, you’re impressing nobody
Contestant number 5
Lidia Geringer de Oedenberg is a 50-year-old painter and journalist from Wrocław and has been a member of the European Parliament since 2004. She is a member of the Democratic Left Alliance (social-democrats, heirs of the communist party). In the European Parliament she represents the Party of European Socialists. She graduated from Wrocław University of Economics. For ten years she worked as a general manager of the international classical music festival Vratislavia Cantans. For four years she held the post of Director of the Witold Lutosławski Philharmonic of Wrocław.
Yes. I do know what you’re thinking
Some people love to work after hours
Contestant number 6:
Joanna Mucha is a 33-year-old academic and MP from Lublin, a city she has represented since 2007. She works as an economics lecturer (specialising in the economics of healthcare) at the Catholic University of Lublin. She represents the Civic Platform party (centre-right).
In her own words: “For me politics means service to the people – this will never change. I have been interested in national matters since I was very young, and I always wanted to participate in politics because I know I am an honest, trustworthy and hardworking person. Now I also have a large knowledge, which I would like to use for the benefit of our country”.
Come over here and say that punk
Stepping out in style
Contestant number 7:
Elżbieta Łukacijewska is a 42-year-old MP from Sanok (since 2001). Holding a Masters in business administration she worked as an accountant. In 1998 she was voted village administrator of Cisna (podkarpacie region). She represents the Civic Platform party (centre-right). She is the former president of the Sejm Commmision for Equal Status of Men and Women.
In her own words: “From my parents I learned to respect other people and their work. I observed their everyday effort, honesty and attachment to the land. Their struggles and difficulties taught me a lot.”
Friendly and elegant
Mental note: don’t give speeches when you’re hungry
Contestant number 8:
Katarzyna Matusik-Lipiec is a 33-year-old Civic Platform MP from Kraków, a city she has represented since 2007. After graduating from political science at the Jagiellonian University, she started working in an association promoting knowledge about the EU. For five years she was engaged in local government of the City of Kraków.
In her own words: “To deal with everyday duties I always try to find time for sports: skiing, swimming, roller skating. Less actively, but just as passionately, I am a fan of the Polish volleyball team”.
I always like to sign with a kiss
Better three hours early than a minute too late
Contestant number 9:
Małgorzata Kidawa-Błońska is a 52-year-old sociologist, film producer and an MP from Warsaw. For several years she represented the liberal-democratic Unia Wolności party in the Warsaw City Council. Currently she is a member of centre-right Platforma Obywatelska.
She takes special pride in being the grand-daughter of important Polish politicians: Stanisław Wojciechowski (President of Poland 1922-26) and Władysław Grabski (Prime Minister of Poland in 1920 and from 1923-25; architect of currency reformer – creator of the złoty).
Why do they always put the salt sticks on your side?!
Contestant number 10:
Marzena Okła-Drewnowicz is a 36-year-old sociologist, social activist and an MP from Skarżysko-Kamienna. Since 2007 she has represented the Civic Platform party. She has worked as a manager for social services in the Świętokrzyskie region and as a facilitator of trainings for social workers. She was actively engaged in numerous local non-governmental initiatives. Her best achievement is probably a charity organising free time for children from underprivileged backgrounds – which flourished when she took lead there.
The Cheri Blair of a new generation
If this guy gives me one more flower I’m going to slap him