I’m trying to figure out what’s wrong with the Poles? What is their problem? What is their major malfunction when it comes to pubs and how to behave in them? There’s a strong streak of Teutonic conformity in Silesia and perhaps this is why every pub I walk into resembles a finishing school for neutered Japanese robots.
You see, in the Land of Po no-one stands in the pub. They all sit. And talk. Quietly. Everyone perfectly placed at their tables, all right angles, elbows off the table in true Prussian fashion, conversing, using certified vowel sounds to establish their likes/dislikes on whatever method of carbon extraction is currently in vogue.
Worse than that, they plan their night out to the pub.
A friend of mine, Agata, asked me to go and watch Arsenal have their bottoms spanked by Barcelona in the Champions League. Then she called back to say she couldn’t go to the pub in question as they were showing Bayern V Juventus.
‘How did you know?’ I asked her.
‘Oh, I called to reserve us a table.’
Reserve? What? Reserve a table? In a pub?
But here is the mortuary-slab upon which the whole strangled and molested corpse of Poland lies.
Of course, Agata was able to save herself a journey and the crushing disappointment of having to watch the Bavarian pig farmers battle the sneaky gigolos of Turin, and I’m sure sixty years from now she’ll die happy knowing she saved ten precious minutes, which she no doubt put to better use by removing dead relatives from under the floorboards or buying skinny jeans for her partner Marcin.
Good for her, but I couldn’t dedicate such precision to going on the piss. I have enough strategies and deadlines as it is, what with having to pick up kids, pay bills, and avoid MI6 assassins. Can I imagine phoning a pub in Ireland and asking them to reserve a table? No. I can’t. My brain won’t allow it. It’s actually easier for me to imagine David Cameron getting a blowjob off a pig than incurring the wrath of the bar staff at Sheridan’s pub on Clybaun Road, Galway. Jesus, the next time I went in, they’d turn me into a table, a ping-pong table only with rocks instead of ping-pong balls.
‘But if I don’t reserve a table I’ll have to stand,’ cry the Poles reading this.
Is sitting such a precious commodity for you? Most pub-going Poles are healthy and strong, with well-sprung thighs from riding wild boars through the grunwald. Okay, perhaps, forty years ago, after nineteen hours crouched in a mine, lungs rotting in your chest and some Communist party overlord limiting the air supply, then, yes, I’ll allow you to sit in a pub. But now? Just what have you been doing for most of the day in front of your computer? Unless you’re an exotic dancer or a circus tightrope walker, then sitting should not be that important.
But we know standing isn’t the issue. The problem is the Polish desire to control. They need to sit at the pub table, because if only for an hour or two, nothing unexpected can happen with the two most common thought processes being; ‘If I stay at my table, then the Germans won’t invade’, or ‘If I stay at my table, I won’t meet anyone new and then I can go home and feel bad about myself for another week and eventually rely on an dating-site algorithm to maximise my mating potential.’
Great. Sit. Next time bring your slippers and it’ll be like you never left home. Get your grandmother to come too, spitting out her false teeth every time she does a kashanka burb.
And I wouldn’t mind, but the last time I was out with Agata, watching Marcin’s band, Penelope Cruz Fanclub, we had a great night standing at the back, bumping into people, making new friends, you know, not being boring.
I know the photo has nothing to do with the article, but my old laptop got bandjaxed and I’ve only a few photos on the new machine. Still, it’s a nice photo of me and the kids up at the great Polish lakes.