Humorous

Cunt. Retard. Faggot.

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I was doing a stand-up comedy show in Krakow recently where I used the word ”cunt”. Actually, I called a woman in the audience a cunt, repeatedly, using a tone of genuine annoyance. For those of you who think this is unjustifiable and have immediately cancelled their subscription to Notes from Middle-Earth, well, give me a minute and maybe I can make you see it from another angle.

Let’s take these three words – cunt, faggot, retard – regardless what you believe, a child in China doesn’t die every time such words are said in public.

But there is a current belief that the word ”retard” inspires hate and discrimination, especially against weaker minorities whose lives are tough enough as it is. To people in the Down Syndrome world, it is the equivalent of calling a black person a ”nigger”.

No-one should have words of hate directed at them, especially if those words are referring to a difficulty suffered by that person. My mother used to be labelled a ”cripple” owing to her left leg being pretty much useless. The term hurts her. It brings up painful memories and in my opinion it misrepresents her as someone who can’t move, drive, travel, or raise a family. She has and continues to do all of these things because her parents did not shield her from words or situations that would make her uncomfortable.

I think the word ”retard” should be available to use, no more so than when describing a healthy, able-bodied person acting in an irritating and stupid way, designed to offend or endanger others. For example; ”Donald Trump is such a retard!” Or if you can imagine President Duda drinking fourteen beers and then trying to drive his car, then you would call him a ”retard”. Not that he would ever do such a retarded thing.

If you consider the etymology of faggot, you might wonder what all the fuss is about – the term is used to describe a bundle of sticks but was given a derogatory value when directed at old ladies whose job it was to gather firewood. So a ”faggot” became anyone who could find no better life path than those old women. It took on its current form as a homosexual slur from English public schools where the younger boys would be used sexually by the older boys – what is known as ”fagging”. For me, faggot is a good word to use when describing a feckless, over-sensitive person either straight or gay and a lot more applicable than”bitch” which is the currently acceptable term used for this purpose. Perhaps ”faggot” should be reclaimed in a similar way to the word ”Queer”? Offensive for such a long time, it is now used positively by the LGBT community.

But what of ”cunt”? Considered by many to be the most offensive term in the English language, reducing women to their reproductive organs. Yet I have never ever heard ”cunt” being used to promote a woman’s sex organs at the expense of her other attributes. I have heard it used to describe people on the sliding scale of being intentionally very annoying or being extremely awful. Go to Glasgow or London and you’ll hear it all the time, usually by men to other men.

Cunt. I don’t see any difference from it and ”Prick”. Have I been called a prick by a woman? Many, many times, either because I was being very annoying or extremely awful. Of course they could have said, ”Peadar, you’re being extremely awful!” But they didn’t. They called me a ”prick”, because like cunt, the word is euphonic and directs an energy to the recipient that sanitized words cannot.

When Magda (the woman I called a cunt) took out her phone during my show and started reading from it, she was very annoying. She was being a cunt. Yesterday, I was reversing into a parking space and a guy drove up behind me and took it. He was being a cunt. The day before that, it was raining and I had to pay bills – it was a cunt of a day. So please, let’s stop being faggots about this and realize the word cunt isn’t such a bad thing.

But the big question is, would I apply the term ”cunt” to my daughters? No. They have never been intentionally very annoying. They have been unintentionally very annoying, and so I have often called them ”Polish”

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First Day Of School

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I’m writing this on what is the morning of my eldest daughter’s first day of school. Lilly-lola is six and there’s a look on her face similar to that of a parachutist who has been given an anvil instead of a parachute. The size of her new backpack and she could actually be a parachutist. It’s huge, bigger than our apartment, less a backpack and more of a giant Panic Room. I think this is the idea, if school starts to get too rough, if an unforeseen event takes place such as her teacher going loco and taking out an M16 assault rifle, Lilly climbs into the backpack and sits the ordeal out.

Christ knows she’s got enough stuff in there to survive a nuclear fallout. Tytka? Where parents supply their child with a huge cone full of candy – our entire household food budget has been spent on chocolate monkeys and strawberry bubblegum. We don’t have the Tytka tradition in Ireland. On my first day of school no-one gave me anything. Sorry, I lie. My mother warned me that she’d slap the taste out of my mouth if I did anything wrong and I subsequently gave myself a crotch-full of urine. She must have given the same warning to my classmates. They all reeked of piss too. It was catastrophic. So it was no surprise when the teacher put the whole class in a sealed plastic bag full of uncooked rice.

What. A. Day. Later on, I met a bully from the class above, a guy called The Onion on account of how he made you cry. And also because he slept with eight other smelly siblings in a net bag. I’m not really sure The Onion did anything bad to me, despite my defective childhood memory insisting he must have maimed me by, I don’t know, sticking clothes pegs to my nipples or slipping a hedgehog into my whitebread and sugar sandwich. I do remember him (his real name was Paul) being the one who broke the Facts of Life to me. Not on my first day of school, but years later when I was nine or ten, the age a boy starts to feel ”sensations” south of the border and subsequently, albeit at an unconscious, sub-atomic level, knows that the outlandish premise of a man putting his thing into a woman’s thing, is horribly true.

None of that for my daughter. She gets a metre long cone filled with enough treats to feed a starving Polish family for a month. She gets a class packed with her buddies, highly-motivated, intelligent kids.

As long as it isn’t the boy from the park that I hate. I know, I’m a grown man. I shouldn’t feel hate towards a six-year old boy, but I do. I don’t know his name, but for months we’ve been meeting him in the playground in the park beside where we live and I hate him. I hate him for several reasons. Because he’s got more hair than me. His is really thick and shiny and my hair is falling out so fast I’m looking like Gollum. What does that kid need great hair for? What a waste. It’s not like he’s going to be going on dates. Neither am I, but like all married men I cling to the illusion that I could go on a date if I wanted to.

The main reason I hate this boy is he’s great at climbing and jumping off things. My daughter is good at these too but he’s better. I do question my behavior. You’d swear that a proficiency in jumping and climbing was going to have this big bearing on Lilly’s life, that when she’s at the job interview at Apple she’ll be put in front of this massive climbing wall and the ghost of Steve Jobs is there with a stopwatch shouting, ‘go!’

I suppose I really hate him because I’m reliving my childhood through my daughter and he reminds me how everyone was better than me at everything. And isn’t this why we become parents, to right the wrongs of a cruel and unjust childhood? Having said that, one of these kids in Lilly’s class is also going to break the news to her how babies get made. This is it. The first day of school is the end of the beginning. The first phase of raising kids is over. They start to learn from other people than us their parents. Their friends start to get more important. You and me and every parent have entered a new era;

We’re not their heroes anymore.

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Why Do Things Take So Long In Poland?

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I’m writing this on my phone waiting to get a train ticket in Katowice. When I first got into the queue there were five people ahead of me. Now there are ten. My heart is pumping pure steaming anger out my sweat glands. How is the queue multiplying? Cell division? Or is it that the queuing system is such a fall-of-Hanoi, fucking free-for-all, that every unscrupulous cowboy queue-jumper can take advantage? I don’t believe in the death penalty, except for queue-jumpers. And for ticket sellers who force me to sweat popcorn pellets of anger out the crack of my ass because they take so long to punch a ticket and hand it out.

At least you can’t blame their charisma for slowing them down. Their people-skills are so creepy that I usually go to the automated ticket-machine. But the one in Katowice train station has gone all HAL 9000 on me – DAISY, DAISY GIVE ME YOUR ANSWER DOOOOOOO – and there’s a sign on it that they plan to fix it when the repairman comes back from Jupiter.

Nothing goes fast in Poland. Forget fast. At this stage I’ll settle for average speed. My standards have been lowered. I’ll even take below-average. After crawling around the multi-level hell that is your legal system, I know there is no ”fast” in this country. We won a court case here that lasted six-years. Six time-sucking years. What was our case about? Convoluted Family Law? A murder? A Constitutional challenge? No. A chimney. I took the legal action because it was such an open-and-shut case, I couldn’t see it going beyond six months. But no. Living in Poland automatically locks you into a Gravitational Time Dilation where everything takes 12 times longer.

It could be worse. Relations of ours in Warsaw spent 12 years going through a Restitution of Property rights case. 12 years a slave to Poland. They should make a film about it. Or what about the dismantling of the tramlines in Gliwice? For some obscure reason all tram services were stopped 7 years ago, but the local government hasn’t got around to removing the tracks and wiring. Kind of like a dentist taking out your tooth but leaving in the bit that hurts. Bravo, oh glorious General Secretary of Gliwice. No trams but we have roads that look like Keith Richards’ face.

But even cars and pollution, two of the General Secretary’s favourite things, have to wait years too. Decades actually. The idea for the construction of a motorway running across the centre of Gliwice originated in the 1960’s. Then Polish Gravitational Time Dilation kicked in, meaning construction didn’t start until 1979 and was finally completed in 2016. 37 years to bring much needed pollution into the centre of the city and give us the magnificent above-ground structure we have today, essentially a carpark with weeds growing out of it. 37 years. I heard of a man who went to work on that road, fell asleep for lunch and when he woke up all his friends were old or dead and his wife had long since run away with a pigeon-tamer. Poor bastard tried to commit suicide when he realised – nothing to do with his wife – he hated her and she always she stunk of pigeon. No, it was because he realized he was living in a city which still used 50 year old ideas. Luckily his chosen method of suicide was to sit on the tramline with his eyes closed.

Poland has a mental block when it comes to transport and construction. Didn’t the government decide to build an Underground system in Warsaw in 1950? They started. Then they stopped. And started again in 1983. Lunch breaks were longer back in Communist times. The first line was 23 kms long. They finished it in 2008. There’s a word for that; momentum. Then there’s the plane crash, sorry, THE PLANE CRASH and Kaczynski mourning his brother since 2010. When is that going to end? He’s dead. Get over it. People have real problems. Like getting a ticket so they can go home. Only I can’t. Because my train has gone. I phone my PRACTIAL SILESIAN WIFE asking if she’ll pick me up. Of course. But I need to wait a few hours. She’s busy.

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The Day I Was Accused Of Robbing Bono’s House

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I’ve never met anyone famous. I don’t want to meet anyone famous. I’ve met lots of semi-famous people most of whom are beset with multiple personality disorders and would strangle twenty kittens in a row if it would get them a five-minute interview on prime-time television.

I am removed from fame and those who have it by many degrees of separation, but of course when I’m shitfaced drunk and trying to impress people I’ll delete as many degrees as I can. This means that the true story of my mother being helped by Mick Jagger’s brother when she fell in a hotel in Dublin, gets abbreviated to DID YOU KNOW I HELPED MICK JAGGER WHEN HE FELL IN A HOTEL IN DUBLIN? Similarly, I once knew a guy who dated a girl who had a friend who sat on a seat in a pub that Colin Farrell once sat on. After three whiskeys this becomes COLIN FARRELL SAT ON ME – and then I’ll fart out my nose and add that he wasn’t heavy.

Polish people often ask about U2 or Bono and are surprised when I say I’ve never met him. I have however met the security team who guard his house in Dublin. Ah, what a morning that was. Gather around my friends and let your resident Irish columnist tell you a tale…

It began with a friend of mine, calling and inviting me to her new home in Dublin. I hadn’t seen her in years but heard she had married a very wealthy man. Her invite coincided with an interview I had to give on The Gerry Ryan Show on Irish national radio. I was excited, more so when her driver, picking me up from the train station took me to her house in Killiney and commented that Bono was her next-door neighbour. I imagined Bono calling in for a cup of tea, complaining about the trouble with Lear jets and how to get your bass player in the recovery position when he’s overdosing on Afghan brown heroin. Maybe my Polish neighbours have similar problems, but seeing as they never call in for random chats, I’ll never know.

Anyway, I met my friend and her ludicrously rich husband. I told them a taxi was coming to pick me up very early for the radio show, and could they give me the code to open their three-metre high gate so I wouldn’t have to disturb them? Of course. And several hours later, at six am, I was at the end of their driveway, typing in the code. Nothing happened. The gate wouldn’t open. The taxi was going to arrive, but it wouldn’t see me behind the huge wall and I was going to miss my interview.

This is what would have happened if my monkey genes didn’t kick in. We Irish are great climbers, which is weird considering the English stole all our trees 800 years ago. Nevertheless, I scaled the gate with all the vitality of a frisky teenage macaque, only somehow I managed to get disastrously stuck. My foot. It was wedged firm. There I was on top of the gate, balancing lest I impale myself on the gate’s razorsharp points. I gazed down into the neighbouring gardens. Bono’s garden. Inside it was a smaller house and two men were coming out with walkie-talkies. ‘What are you doing up there?’ they asked as I suddenly started to realise what they were seeing. ‘It’s okay,’ I told them, ‘I’m staying with…’

Ah shit. I blanked on my friend’s name. And her husband’s too. ‘Yes?’ they asked again. More security men were appearing, probably one of them in the trees, lining me up in his crosshairs.

‘We’re calling the police,’ they said. Ah brilliant. Now I’m going to be famous like Mark David Chapman is famous. Like Charlie Manson. Travis Bickle… Speaking of which…

The taxi appeared. The driver jumped out, trying to compute the sweating man on top of a gate. ‘Are you robbing Bono’s house?’ he said in that subtle way Dublin taxi-drivers are known for. ‘No…I’m the guy you’re meant to take to the radio interview…’ And I told him the only name I could remember. Mine. ‘Now help me get off this gate.’ And he did, even if my pants got ripped in the process. He drove me out of there, stopping only to give way to the police cars speeding in the opposite direction.

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For Your Eyes Only

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This is what I believe in;

The power of alcohol to solve whatever is it that ails you.

The first five seconds of meeting a person will tell me everything about them.

And only twenty per cent of communication is verbal.

The rest is made up of a of a series of visual and paralinguistic cogs, springs and counterweights, intricate, silent pieces of message mechanism. Encoded in our facial muscles, our posture, is a pure truth. Take a man cheating on his wife; his excessive absence of blinking when detailing how his day went sends the unspoken message – I’m sleeping with the florist.

This brings me to the Poles and their curiously annoying habit of avoiding eye-contact. Curious, in that there’s no obvious philosophy behind it other than putting the recipient on edge for no better reason than if they’re not relaxed then why the hell should you be?

Am I referring here to my own direct experiences? No. Throwing me into the equation would excuse this socially demoralising habit as a means of deferring to foreigners or avoiding awkward language encounters. This is Poles interacting with other Poles, a national characteristic, a collective non-verbal communication methodology, as habitual as cheating in exams or applauding when an airplane lands. It’s a full-time practice, done between friends and family with such remarkable consistency, it’s a wonder they recognise each other at all.

I suppose all countries have their own unique customs governing interaction.There’s the Finnish habit of marking conversations with huge swathes of silence. The Finns don’t do small talk. They place an importance on listening and will regularly interrupt the flow of verbal interaction by shutting up and processing what’s just been said. This is strange, especially when you consider the Finns have the highest rate of coffee consumption in the world per person. What do they do with all that caffeine energy? It used to be for killing Russians, but now?

Stranger still is the habit in Columbia and the Philippines to point to something with your lips. They consider it rude to use the index finger, so they make a kissy-face and aim it at what they’re directing you towards. Nice.

Even nicer is the way Brazilians mark most conversations with hugs. When they meet, they embrace as if they’ve just been released from solitary confinement. When men are talking to other men, they maintain physical contact, going as far as to pull their shoulders if one of them gazes off in a different direction.

Compare that to the Poles who are constantly giving the impression there is something more interesting going on three centimeters to the right of whoever they’re talking to. It’s staggering how accepted it is – I’ve seen members of the same family arrange themselves side-by-side, intently discussing how much they hate doctors, both staring at an imaginary third person in front of them.

This shouldn’t be confused with the Japanese custom where it’s impolite to make eye-contact, as it turns out they only observe this practice during formal occasions, or when they’re making an apology.

This inability to look their neighbour in the eye is uniquely Polish. I know a few Ukrainian-Polish couples and it’s always the Lviv or Kiev natives who make a point of looking you directly in the face, while their shifty-eyed partners are forever finding something amazingly important happening in the sky.

It doesn’t have to be the sky. Sometimes it’s the hills. I was at a dinner in Warsaw with the former Minister for Health, and for the better part of the night he kept his eyes firmly glued to my PRACTICAL SILESIAN WIFE’S chest.

Fascinating as this region is, her eyes are more interesting. This is where the real action takes place when anthropoids are exchanging messages. The eyes are the window to the soul? For me, they’re the soul’s voice. Look into them and you’ll hear a person’s needs, their hopes and desires. They eyes speak. They tell you who is naughty and who is nice and at some base level, I think the Poles know this. The eyes speak the truth and for the Poles the truth is something the rest of the world can’t know. It could be used against them. It’s private. Top secret.

For your eyes only.

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Goodbye England, We Never Really Liked You Anyway

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You think it’s fun being Irish, don’t you? A big summer-camp jamboree of singing, dancing and fidgety bonhomie washed down with lashings of alcohol related products in a carnival of inebriated self-expression.

You watch our football fans at the Euros in France, and excluding the bearded, tattooed ones with eye-patches and interesting teeth, we do come across as an amiable bunch of boisterous losers, a mass outing of bi-polar sufferers who would stop and and change a wheel for you at the side of the road. Not that you would trust them to do it right, but it would be funny and there would be lots of shouting and dancing.

Truth is, it’s not that great being Irish at all. For many of reasons, foremost being our location; we’re beside England. Yes, the English are also boozy losers with car-crash teeth, but aside from that, our shared history is one of suffering, shackled together by fate in a messy marriage of inconvenience.

This isn’t about the Irish Famine or eight hundred years of oppression or Margaret Thatcher and her insane clown posse of Conservative henchmen. Nor is it about us blowing up the Queen’s cousin in a boat in Sligo or me writing BRITS OUT on a wall in Galway when Prince Charles came to visit with Camilla Parker-Bowles and the Royal vet.

No this is about the Tyranny of Small Differences, the true foundation of all geopolitical relationships which are subsumed by hate.

Small differences like, Rules; the English make them and we break them. And Daniel Day-Lewis, born in England, but come on – we all know he wants to be Irish.

Then there’s sports – both our national sports are stick and ball games. The Irish play Hurling. Fast, frenetic, it is thirty men in a field, each holding a stick and chasing an imaginary ball. It’s organized thuggery exquisitely disguised as athletic, passionate ballet. Dangerous and exciting, the life expectancy of most players is n-n-n-n-nineteen.

The English have cricket. One man has a bat and the rest of the players form committees so they can draft legislation on how best to annex Kenya.

Then there’s the oh so English habit of having a beer at lunchtime. This is what they do. I know. Crazy. Just the one and then they go back to driving forklifts or writing parrot sketches. I remember first witnessing it in London, this enduring bit of post-colonial eccentricity. I was angry, shocked and ultimately ravenous for my own lunchtime tipple, knowing I couldn’t because as an Irishman you can’t have one beer without having a second. And as we all know two beers is the Golden Path, the promise of a ski lift to Shangri-la, which inevitably leads to ten more beers and ends with me doing donuts in a supermarket trolley outside my mother-in-law’s house.

Then there’s Europe. We like it. They don’t. The Irish want to be the French while the English simply want to beat them. This is how England interacted with the Continent. By waging war against anything that didn’t look like a bulldog. And now they’re sore, because they got outgunned by a Swabian housewife who had done what no other German leader has ever done: made Germany friendly.

So you get it. We’re the same but we’re not the same. It’s the tiny differences that brings the hate. Okay, not really hate. A mild dislike. Or an un-liking. I really don’t know how to put it. I have so many English friends and family I’m reluctant to wed myself to a really horrible insult.

So, goodbye then England, only you’re not really gone are you? I’ve looked at the map and you’re still there, peering over Ireland’s shoulder like a wicked step-father, the kind who visits your bedroom late at night.

Still, it could be worse. We could be trapped between Russia and Germany.

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Don’t Die Without Scars

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Get busy living or get busy dying. Some of you will recognise these words of advice from The Shawshank Redemption, the movie adaptation of Stephen King’s novella and with this in mind, I took up an offer to go Wakeboarding. A mistake of gargantuan proportions I can tell you, most of which I will enumerate below.

I was joined by my friend Michal, his wife and 16 year old godson and we went to one of those great man-made lakes so plentiful in Silesia and which never fail to inspire me when I’m writing about serial killers and abductions. Michal knows his way around a wakeboard and along with the two dudes who ran the operation, explained how it works; you place your feet inside what is essentially a snowboard and try and keep upright as you are dragged across a mass of water while dangling from a motorized wire.

Most of you know how it works. But for me, who comes from a country where badger-throwing is a pastime for males between the ages of 4 and 70, it’s the height of sophistication. Michal went first and in that typically Polish way, was great, tracing his way across the lake in a manner reminiscent of Timothy Dalton in Licence To Kill, his wife, every inch the languid Bond-girl, watching her husband attempt a dazzling array of 360 degree spins, a glint in her eye as she imagined him slaughtering swathes of Putin’s elite water-cossacks.

His god-son then gave a good account of himself, before I was lowered into the water, where I contrived to get the waterboard and by association half of my body, stuck underneath the jetty from which we were launching ourselves. No Bond I, more like a crash-test dummy who has been magicked to life by a mad-scientist, albeit with the brain of one of the aforementioned Irish badgers who has been thrown way too many times.

They got me out from under the jetty and the motorized wire pulled me a good twenty metres across the lake before the inevitable happened and I splashed down with all the grace of a horse jumping from a plane. A wonderful moment, marked by naked panic, camouflaged by my unerring ability to consume mouthfuls of pure lake-water and convert it into concentrated snot which was then funneled out my nose and ears.

I repeated this trick on three more ocassions before my PRACTICAL SILESIAN WIFE turned up. Just off a 24h duty and reluctant to take part as she never wakeboarded before, but you where this is going, don’t you? She reluctantly decided to give it a go and in true Silesian wife style, was everything I wasn’t. There you go. When the Russians come, she’ll be the one fighting them off, holding a flame thrower while standing on the wings of a glider. I’ll be stuck in some Siberian POW camp, reciting pornographic monologues for the masturbatory benefit of my Legia Warsaw cellmate.

We said goodbye to Michal and his family and so they are still unaware of how, in cinematic terms, my wakeboarding experience went from Woody Allen to The Passion of the Christ. I woke that night at 2am with the worst case of muscle cramps known to an Irishman, even those who have consecutively thrown over 500 badgers. My bed wasn’t a bed, but a landscape of discord and agony and my entire right arm was awash with pain.

Pain. It flowered in my arm as a giant, angry scorpion, a queen who gave birth to millions of scurrying scorpions whose fate was to excrete venomous shards of broken glass down the right side of my body.

Four days later and physiotherapy from my neighbour Ola has helped. My PSW has lovingly administered therapeutic beatings so I’ve got to the stage where I’m crying only every other hour. But I am at one with my pain. I have grown into it. Perhaps this is why I can say what I have to say next;

The pain is good. Good in that at the age of forty-two, I am still getting hurt as a result of trying new things. Sure, there’s plenty of war-stories from my twenties and thirties, but there’s always a risk when you enter your forties, that life will get, you know, flat. Not in Poland, the land of unpredictability, where you never know what’s going to happen next. While this isn’t always a good thing, it’s never boring. I came here and subsequently choose to remain here because I have a fondness for the road less traveled. A rough road with thorns and you will get cut. The price you pay for adventure.

Get busy with life and collect your scars.

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Don’t Be Afraid Of The Irish

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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.

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Accelerate Onwards In Absolute Silence

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9.6 I tell you. 9.6. There’s a number for you to masticate over for the next few minutes, but until then let me give the secret to surviving a car-trip across the continent of Europe.

Since my last post, we’ve been in Jutland, Germany, Holland, Belgium, France and England. Geographically. Metaphysically, we’ve been to Oz, via Carcosa, eventually arriving at our ultimate destination of the west coast of Ireland. In between the petrol station stops, the whining and bitching from the backseat, the lack of faith in the GPS, the refugees at Calais, and the herds of freakshow people who travel via the ferry boats, here’s what happened;

I messed up in Brussels. We stayed there for an evening just off the Palace of Justice. We soaked up the ghost-town atmosphere and the next morning we made a beeline for the ferry to Dover. It’s a 168 km trip from Brussels to Dunkirk, the road was straight, the sky was blue. We arrived with thirty minutes to spare and that’s when I realised I’d left my jacket back in Brussels. Jacket. Wallet. Credit cards.

The PRACTICAL SILESIAN WIFE was cool about it. She knows shit happens. I however spent the next four hours locked in a maelstrom of self-loathing and teeth-grinding funk as we drove back to Brussels to get my belongings and then back again to Dunkirk.

Just in time to miss the last ferry.

At this stage, my lower left molars had been eroded to a fine powdery substance and my knuckles gripping the steering wheel were the same size and colour of ostrich eggs. Sensing disaster, the PSW stepped in and Accelerated Onwards In Absolute Silence, for our family’s survival depended on it. There was another sailing at Calais, but we only had 25 minutes to get there.

She did it though and we got the boat to Dover. We made it to London. Hurray.

Hurray for two reasons; my collection of aunts, uncles and cousin in London got to meet my family for the first time and also because our car narrowly avoided being blown up.

We rented a studio flat via AirBnB with an outdoor carpark beside the building. And for three days our time was good. We visited the Natural History Museum, Cleopatra’s Needle, the South Bank, Spitafields Market, and Shoreditch where my girls searched for traces of street art by their hero King Robbo.

We rose early on Thursday morning to drive to North Wales and I went to load up the car. What I saw made my bowels drop three inches – the carpark was gone and replaced by a scene from Apocalypse Now. Our car was obscured by smoke and debris. Holes were burnt into the tarmacadam ground. I counted at least fifty, six-packs of unopened Guinness cans and two large barrels with fires still smoldering in them.

And somehow my car was…okay, despite there being evidence of a naked flame less than a meter from the petrol tank. I was clearing the broken glass away from the tyres when I heard a voice;

‘I’m sorry…so sorry…but we were having a wake…do you know what a wake is, do you?’

I recognised the accent. It was laced with alcohol and tears and therefore Irish. It came from a man who had a white vest and a tattoo on his chest. ‘A wake,’ he repeated. ‘You know, like Finnegans Wake…‘ Ah, I thought. A Joycean scholar. He came over and shook my hand. ‘My mother died last night and we had to give her a good send-off. We didn’t make too much noise, did we?’

‘No, not at all and I’m very sorry for your trouble, but do you think you can help me move the broken glass from my car?’ Of course, he said, but he didn’t. He just gathered up the unopened cans of booze. ‘Here, do you want some Guinness?’ I declined. There are times when you just accept there is a higher power and your only response is to Accelerate Onwards In Absolute Silence.

We arrived in Galway eight hours later and my PSW and I went into the Atlantic for a swim. The water temperature was 9.6 degrees Celsius. There is only one response to this:

Accelerate Onwards In Absolute Silence.

Categories: Humorous, Travel, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Hail Dupa!

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Hail Dupa!

Strangeness. The Polish President’s presidential car exploding…the ramifications behind ”Dupa-gate” wherein  graffiti in a school toilet punning the President’s name – Andrzej Duda with Andrej Dupa meant that a graphology expert was brought in to find the perpetrator. Of course, Poles reading this will know that Dupa means ‘asshole’… Then the government announced it was going to fell one-third of a protected forest owing to an invasion of European Spruce bark beetles… Strangeness, but ah, just another week in the Land of Po, with Lech Walesa wailing in the background, proclaiming over and over how he was never a Communist agent, much like an dementia patient sitting on a bus and repeatedly shouting out his favorite brand of toothpaste.

While there are many who are bamboozled by the foaming-at-the-mouth-frenzy engulfing the country over school graffiti, excusing the culprit, saying how easy it is to mistake the name ‘Duda’ for the epithet, ‘Duda’ – sorry, sorry, I meant ‘Dupa’ – I don’t buy it. No way. And we can’t let these things pass.

Like the majority of you reading this, I’m angry. Foaming-at-the-mouth. At the very least, I want the culprit’s testicles hanging from a stick. Not literally of course, because who knows, it could have been a female and leaving aside the minimal, yet plausible chance that the author of Andrzej Dupa may have been dyslexic, I think we should make an example of the fiend – extra homework for a whole year plus a month’s latrine duty we’ll see how scrubbing shit with an eyeliner brush reduces the bastard’s hostility to our glorious President.

I don’t think Poland’s liberals, those transgendering hippies and Jews who roam the newspaper I work for here understand the damage being done to the country’s prestige on the international arena. The German columnist Schmetterling, from the renowned Suddeutsche Spunkblatt recently wrote;

Unlike every other journalist and columnist, the author of Andrzej Dupa has expressed their thoughts on the President in a succinct and concise manner, leaving the door open to an important question: should the dupas of Poland (their number are legion) take exception to being unfairly associated with Andrzej Duda?

You see? Bloody Germans, laughing up their sleeves at the Poles. Don’t worry. I know a thing or two about Schmetterling – he cuts his toenails and keeps them in a small box from which periodically inhales when depressed. Asshole.

While you mull that over for a bit, let me give you an insight into the mood at the de Burca household – my PRACTICAL SILESIAN WIFE is noticing a marked change in the various Polish internet and radio portals. They are, she tells me…different. Troika for example. Yesterday, she tuned to this usually unbiased and factual radio station, hoping for the news. Instead she got a documentary on a man who was sad because he never met Pope John Paul. She thought there was a mistake with the frequency tuner and somehow Troika had swapped places with the ultra religious, homo-hating, Jew-reviling Radio Maryja. So we tuned in there to see if we could find Troika – no, it was Radio Maryja, at their usual setting and doing a live commentary of a mass, followed by some music – a five hour recording of nuns crying. Apparently the poor Brides of Jesus were distraught at the news of President Dupa’s – sorry – President Duda’s near brush with death when the front wheel of his car exploded…

Pulling ourselves away from the Troika/Radio Maryja festival of fun, my PSW and I sat in deep contemplation of this near-fatal automotive calamity. Ball-bearings worn down by consistent speeding of a heavy vehicle – this is the official explanation. Poppycock! I don’t buy it and I doubt the Polish Minister for Defence, Antoni Macierewicz is falling for such liberal trash propaganda either. You may remember his recent press conference at the school of Social and Cultural Media in Torun? Yes? It’s where he was having his ear nibbled by Father Tadeusz Rydzyk, while hinting how Smolensk 2010 may have been a terrorist attack. Macierewicz convinced me. There’s something about his dead-eyed zombie stare which makes my mind acquiesce and…believe…the truth is out there.

And who among us doesn’t believe that Dupa’s car wasn’t targeted by European Spruce bark beetles in the employ of Vlad the Impaler Putin? Weren’t they also responsible for the Ayrton Senna death? With this in mind, the government’s solution to firebomb the Bialowieza forest is a justified and logical response to the insect insurgents. If we don’t stop them now, then no car-owning Pole will be safe from their six-legged chicanery. I for one, am feeling a whole lot safer now that this government is tackling the hard issues the majority of Poles voted them into power for. Pollution, unemployment, excessive foreign investment – these can wait – destroying the beetle and graffiti axis of evil is paramount.

Hail Dupa!

Categories: Humorous, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

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