By the time you read this, I’ll be on my way back to Poland, stopping off at Amsterdam, standing by a canal, watching fresh batches of pornography being delivered to the good Dutch citizens. The Polski Eire festival is over, my holiday in Ireland is over and I’m in the wonderfully contradictory position of leaving home, whilst simultaneously returning home. The diametrically opposed emotions of the emigrant; sad but happy, anxious yet relieved, waving goodbye while saying hello.
I have mixed feelings about returning to Silesia and I’ll tell you why; this visit to Ireland brought a few things into focus, most notably the extent with which my PRACTICAL SILESIAN WIFE has fallen in love with the west of Ireland. She swam constantly in 9.6 degree waters off the Connemara coast and climbed the Middle-Earth mountains by Killary Fjord. Sometimes both in the same day. I’d come back from the pub and find her watching documentaries on the depopulated island of Inishark and baking bread with my mother, trading stories about their respective evil neighbours whom they hate like rat poison.
And while it’s nice that she has found a home from home, it throws up questions about our family’s future in Poland, especially when Ireland is promising to stuff money into the pockets of any medic who knows the difference between a hip replacement and a Chinaman’s Liver.
Ireland being financially more attractive isn’t a new development, but what is new is my PSW’s attitude. When she first came to Ireland, she erroneously got it into her head that the Irish were somehow…superior. Subsequent visits have shown her just how submental we really are. Half the Irish teenagers you meet suffer from ADHD, jacked up to the eyeballs on Ritalin just to stop them fidgeting and eating their own kneecaps, while their parents are waiting for the banks to evict them so they can sell their houses to Donald Trump and his cronies.
Despite this, all anyone can talk about in Ireland is how ‘house prices are on the up’ and you just know we’ll run headlong into another financial catastrophe because we still haven’t realised that the key to a good economy is Research and Development. We don’t innovate. We don’t create. We just dance and drink and fight and gamble on property.
It’s a top-down phenomenon and I can’t see it changing anytime soon. There’s a cretin I know, he works in a petrol station rinsing mop-heads under his armpit and he towers like Einstein over our current Minister for Finance who got his maths wrong by 2 billion euro when he calculated this year’s national budget.
The Polish community in Ireland, those long-termers who’ve been in Ireland for seven or eight years and who come from disciplined backgrounds of innovation and creation are starting to realise their value. Similarly, my PSW, with her training and her Silesian attention to detail, knows there is no reason for her to feel ‘less’ in Ireland.
But with the Poles, you’ll always have someone whose sense of inferiority is still holding them back. One woman I know, we’ll call her ‘Marta’ – may she rest in peace, but later, after she dies – is a maths genius, only she can’t find work because she told me, ‘Polish families can’t afford a private maths tutor’. ‘Ah’, I told her, ‘but Irish families can. Put an ad up in an Irish school and see what happens.’
And guess what? Once I convinced her that the Irish weren’t the masters of the universe she had thought them to be, she put up her ad and got inundated with offers to educate hordes of Irish teenage golems.
Now if only the Minister for Finance would take a few lessons off of her, we might be able to build an extra hospital or two. I’m sure my PSW would like that.