A Brief Note On Leaving Poland

Added on 31 July 2009

The Visigoths have been moving house in the last few weeks, which explains why they’ve not been on-line. Even the Visigoths have to pack up their stuff in brown boxes.


Four years ago, round about now, we were standing in our first Polish cinema queue. After we’d been in a fairly short queue for about an hour, we realised that all the people, once they got up to the front, took about fifteen minutes to sort out their cinema tickets. There didn’t seem to be any particular explanation for this, but we assumed the same thing would happen to us when we got there. Finally, about half way through the film we wanted to watch, we arrived at the ticket counter. We said which film we wanted tickets for; the woman behind the counter flicked up the auditorium layout; we indicated which seats we’d like; she told us how much it would be, we handed over the money, she gave us the change and the tickets. The whole procedure had taken about thirty seconds. It’s taken me longer to write that than it took to buy the tickets. We left wondering what it was that the Poles did once they got to the front of the queue.


Four years later I have the answer. Fuck all.


Decades and decades of queuing for bread have taken their toll. Not only can they not organise a queue, not only are they impatient in one, not only do they queue jump given the slightest window of opportunity, but by God, once they get to the front of the queue they want to make the most of it. While the rest of the world subscribes to Andy Warhol’s fifteen minutes of fame, the Polish aspire to little more than their fifteen minutes at the ticket desk or shop counter. And in this instance, it literally is fifteen minutes.


A few weeks ago I was standing behind a woman who was dressed in a too-tight flowery top, stretched across her roles of flab, as she negotiated her seats in a near-empty cinema. It took the regulation fifteen minutes, and all the time she was nibbling away at an ice-cream. Between each word she would nibble at the very edge of the cone, like some flabby and annoying rodent. The rage rose inside me and I realised at that moment, that Yoda would never let the Council sanction my Jedi training. By God, I’d be flipping over to the Dark Side quicker than you can say General Grievous. I had an Ally McBeal moment where the light sabre flashed in my hands, I severed her fingers so that the ice cream fell to the floor, the artificial strawberry red mixing with the dark crimson of her blood, before whishing the sabre back up and chopping her head off where she stood. I was then able to buy the cinema tickets before the film started for the first time in two hundred cinema visits in Warsaw. Stepping over her decapitated body, to the cheers of the counter staff, I walked into the cinema…


It was time to leave Poland.


Fortunately we were leaving anyway.


The Visigoths Are Back And This Time They're A Washing-Up Liquid, will be back in some form or other in September...