Thursday, February 19, 2009

I haven't died. I've just temporarily moved my writing to another blog.

Go check it out: Written In Poland

Tramspotting will return when I return to the UK (and stop writing in Poland).

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

'Oh my monkey. You went to the gate,' was the consoling response of my girlfriend as I started telling her about my night out on the town. Why are you sounding so concerned, I thought. I had a really a good night. It turns out that metaphors for drinking can often be misleading.

Our Saturday night started with dinner at Zen, just off ul. Świętorkzyska, where my girlfriend and I dined on what seemed like the cheapest meals on the menu. (I stand by my belief that there is nothing wrong with that, I'm not shelling out 70zł for a meal when I can get a perfectly good one for 30zł.) After dining in the poshest restaurant I've visited since I arrived here (where there was a distinct scarcety of clientelle, all of which were at least 10 years older than us), we parted ways. I was to go drinking (to the gate apparently) with a newly made, English speaking friend.

'Have you ever drank in a place like this?' Asked my friend Rob. We were stood outside of a ministry of some sort, in the middle of the city. 'Well not quite, we used to drink in bus shelters back home. And that was a few years ago.' I responded. We picked up some super cheap, super strong lager from a shop and stood in the cold, drinking awaiting the arrival Rob's friends.

Within about fifteen minutes, the first of Rob's friends showed up. In a black Jaguar (an S or X-type, I can't tell from the front, as the label is on the back). 'It's his Dad's,' Rob said, reassuringly. I've been somewhat confused by the slightly alarming difference between the rich and poor of this country. Exiting the car, in shirts, jackets and skinny jeans, my apprehension of going to a Ghetto Blaster night at 55 (in my own jacket and jeans) was subsided. Hell, I might even fit in, I thought to myself.

About four or five cans later we were visited by some more friends, and then some more friends in a blue car, with a distinct label on the side of it: Policja.

'They can't do anything really. We're all 18,' was Rob's comforting advice. It turns out that public drinking and visits from the Old Bill tend to go hand in hand with each other. 'Plus Adrian knows these guys,' added Rob. I was still a bit nervous to hand over my British passport, half pissed and barely knowing the people I was drinking with. Ten minutes later the police were gone and we were on our way to 55.

Situated in the Palace of Culture in the centre of Warsaw, I wasn't surprised to find a massive queue streaming out of the club, as we arrived at about 23.00. Using our British charm, Rob and I strolled up to the door. 'Twenty, right?' I asked in English. Apparently that's enough to get you to the head of the line in Poland. In the right places, I'm sure.

55 was exactly as I expected that night. Folks of my age, younger and older, dressed in the attire you'd find in the pages of Vice or on an episode of Skins. Neon t-shirts, skinny jeans, plimsolls, the job lot. The music was just as fashionable. Jesus, this whole city is more fashionable than the culturally retarded town of Newquay that I hail from.

Being English (and having no cigarettes, as I left them in my coat) afforded me the chance to meet lots of new people. Cool kids smoke: fact. All of whom I cannot clearly remember, as by that point I was completely trolleyed. Either way, I know for sure that I was having a good time. Before I knew it, it was around 4am and my friends were looking to head home. Not wanting to be stood around like a lemon, I followed them to the door, safe in the knowledge that when I would wake the next morning I would be feeling infinitely worse.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Blah blah blah, my internet doesn't work. Blah blah blah, the universe is against me. I have written reems and reems of Word documents about how everything seems to be pissing me off. After banging my head on my cabinet for the second time today, I think the best thing to do about it is shut the fuck up and get on with being dicked by the universe.

Plus, if this is all I write on the subject, when it fails to post I shouldn't be so pissed off. Man, I need a smoke.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

I’m not going to let this get to me. Or at least that’s the plan. I’ve got an hour between students at Peritus and need to find a way of occupying it. I decided it was time for a change of scenery, so instead of going to Globalisation Café (a.k.a. w biegu café on ul. Marszalkowska) I headed for Traffic Club on ul. Zgoda. I don’t know why I’ve never thought of going for coffee and cigarettes (as well as internet access) at Traffic. They even have English newspapers.

Giant steel gates blocked the front door of the shop. I deciphered a sign with ‘11’ on it as ‘Store closed til 11, staff training,’ or something to that effect. Sod it, I thought and headed for my usual haunt. A lady stood waiting at the counter was completely indifferent to my call of ‘przypreszam’ (excuse me) and stood impassively as I bundled between her and a chap sat on a stool opposite (who did hear my attempts at social manners). Turning to go upstairs to the seating area, I was met by something I assume means, ‘Upstairs is closed at the minute.’ In need of coffee and a place to write (now with a new subject to tackle) I find myself in a coffeeheaven. However, I don’t know how to connect to the network here. By the time this is finally posted, I shall be back at my flat in Solec. [Yes, I'm now sat at home, playing poker as I post this.]

The irony is that this series of misfortunate events was going to be the topic for today’s entry. It’s just that I’ve had a fresh set to write about. My days are filled with things not going as planned or the way I’ve expected. For example, I can predict the exact time of buses from my stop at Metro Politechnika. They depart at the exact moment it takes me to get to the crossing on the other side of the road. It’s like the trains are scheduled precisely; so that as I ascend the escalator to the street I can have a full view of my bus approaching the stop, stopping for passengers, leaving the bus stop and then stopping at the traffic lights that I cross to get to the stop that it has momentarily departed from.

It’s these kinds of things that happen like clockwork that I find myself consumed by. My task is not to be deterred by this constant barrage of bad luck. (It’s like playing poker for an hour and getting dealt 7-2 off every hand. Ironically, this bad luck doesn’t seem to affect my poker.) I have to remind myself every day that: Isn’t it a little odd that despite my bad luck, I’m receiving it in an Eastern European city? The same city that has: found me enjoyable and well paid work, a cool flat (that I pay considerably low rent for) and oh yes, the most insane, intelligent, funny and beautiful girl in the world? Yes, it is a little odd.

I have to remind myself of the amazing things that I have in this town. Because I’m the kind of person that lets missed buses, poor internet connections and social interactions get on his nerves. Essentially, I need to let shit go and focus on the good shit. Because my shit is the best.

Fuck knows what I may have written if McCain won.

Ok, so now I'm back in the flat I can write a few more words without anyone staring at me. (People seem to stare at me, don't they know it's rude?) I've had a couple of classes and some lunch and I'm feeling at least 48% better than I did when I wrote the first bit at around 10 o'clock this morning. In fact, I'm in such a good mood I'm going to stick a picture up (it's been a while).

How can one be unhappy when high street banks up and down the high street have giant images of John Cleese? A reliable source has told me that he appears on television commercials speaking in Polish. Now that's a good work ethic. I hope it inspires me to learn Polish a bit quicker. You never know when you might need to say, 'To nie jest martwy, to śpi.' = 'It's not dead, it's sleeping.'

And while I'm online I can check the results of today's Mystery Chocolate Game. The Mystery Chocolate Game is something I've devised to quell both boredom and hunger. In the supermarkets here, they have a massive range of different chocolate bars (quite cheap ones too). However, due to lack of image/English language labeling or flavour, I don't know what I'm buying. Today I had one that on the label looked like caramel, but didn't taste like caramel. Or anything else to that matter. So before I check the trusty Poltran website, I'm going to say Zabajone is... pineapple.

I don't know why, as I know pineapple is ananas, but it's the closest taste I can think of.

Shit, Poltran can't help me. Maybe this will: Wikipedia.

I'd never have guessed that.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The incompatability of technology with myself is starting to prove itself a reccurrent nuisance. For the past few days this has not just been limited to digital technology. The stove at Olivia's place refuses to light when I require it, rendering my need for caffeinated beverages thwarted. The toilet, when required to flush does not, leaving whatever I've left behind on display, ready to greet the next user of said toilet. Stopping into a coffee shop to use the services of both coffee and wireless internet access (because the wireless at Olivia's refuses to play nice with me), my enjoyment of the latte is diminished by the prospect of another incompatible wireless network service.

Facing said problems, my only outlet for frustration related ventilation is this Notepad that I'm using (with the honest expectation of an iminent system failure, leading to my laptop to crash). If it worked on Windows 3.1, it seems to work fine with me.

I should count myself lucky that I can rely technology to crash on me [the lights in the cafe just dimmed as I typed that]. To live in a world where I knew not of alleged high speed internet is a daunting image, that I trust keeps people in the third world and the 19th Century awake at night. That these technological sabotages only seem to affect things that exclusively affect my life, is also assuring. The train that I rode into town serves my benefit, but also that of the 1.7 million Warszawians. Which means that works just fine. The electricity that powers the lights, escalators, ventilation systems and communication devices of the shopping centre, seems to be working perfectly. This allows businesses to run smoothly, and the dozens upon dozens of security guards to stare accusitavely at me as I wander from shop to shop - the kind of glare that a dark skinned man with a backpack full of electrical equipment may face at one of the many transport hubs in my home country.

So what shall I do with myself while I wait for the technology to sort itself out? Well, there's not a lot I can do at the minute except wait. Type my angst ridden thoughts in a Notepad window. And maybe kill a few hours playing Minesweeper and Solitaire.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Fucking Britain, I can't escape its ineptitude even when I'm almost two thousand miles away. I shouldn't be surprised by my current predicament, we are talking about Her Majesty's handywork after all.

Yesterday, we decided it would be a good idea to head to the British Embassy to get some information on me living and working in Poland. The polite (or maybe not polite, I can't speak Polish) security guy told us that we needed to go to the British Consulate. At this point, I made a bet with Ol - 1zł says that the consulate send us back to the embassy.

So this afternoon we headed back into the city. First we went to the British Council, where the Polish girl at the desk misunderstood me and told me to email a CV if I wanted a job at the Council. After Ol's intervention, we found out that we had to go to the Consulate around the corner.

At the Consulate, or rather the reception of the building the Consulate is housed in, the security guard told us that we needed to make an appointment. How do we do that? He gave us a piece of paper with the London address of the Polish Embassy and a few website addresses.


Checking the website, which gives information on: recording a birth/death, retiring and applying for residency in Poland, I'm still a bit stumped. What if I hadn't brought my computer with me? Am I the first British person to come to Poland to work, ever? All these stupid questions. And no stupid fucking answers. Just yet.

Fucking Britain!

Monday, October 06, 2008

What a difference a weekend makes. It's Monday morning, in the last 72 hours I've gone from Stansted to Interzone, and after only two hours sleep: made it to Warsaw.

Friday: All the joys of low budget* (not including taxes, airport and baggage charges) airline travel. Somehow, I found myself asleep for most of the flight. One minute I was looking out to the clouds 30,000 feet above the earth, the next I see the tarmac of Łódż airport's runway through the window. The round of applause customary for Poles to give after a successful landing assured me that I was awake, alive and in Poland.

Saturday: To ease the pain of being dragged around the shopping centre Manafactura, in Łódż, Olivia decided that some drinks were in order. Two White Russians and two shots (apparently the standard measure is 40ml, we ended up with 50s, essentially double what I'm used to back home), made wandering around in circles looking for shoes all the more bearable. The booze also fueled my shock when I realised that this tram

wasn't any ordinary tram, but a modified road going tram. The dude who gets to drive it has the best job in the world: He drives from one end of the plaza to the other. After two or three minutes, covering about 400 meters at around 5km/ph, he stops for a cigarette break. That's it. Genius.

Anyway [I've just realised what time it is, and have to get a shifty on], in the evening we went to the TV studios to see the Klaxons.

The gig was different to any I've been to before. It was some Pepsi sponsored event promoting local music (with about a dozen bands playing a song each) with awards or something. What this meant was we stood waiting for about an hour while each of the bands collected their awards. Then through the soundcheck. All the while we could've been at the bar drinking, instead of standing like plums. Regardless, the Klaxons were kick ass. After their set, we wandered around deciding what to do, which meant that I could only catch a glimpse of Primal Scream. This didn't stop me from telling Bobby and Mani, 'Good work guys,' when I saw them in the VIP bar after the show.

Sunday: By the time we got back to the hotel and got to bed it was about 4am. We were back up at 6.00 to check out and get the train to Warsaw. Not getting any sleep on the hour and a half journey, we finally passed out when we got to Ol's place. Not content with showing me half of Poland in thirty seconds, Ol decided that we should go to the ballet. Facing an ultimatum of, 'If you get bored, I will rip your balls off,' I was a little surprised that I didn't find it boring. What with being a guy and everything I will use the phrase, 'I don't want to sound like a queer or nothing' but I really enjoyed it. Coming from Newquay, where the height of culture is renting a video and drinking a bottle of Lambrini, the ballet was really mesmerizing. How those guys bend that way is incredible. The only down side was being sat in the same section as a bunch of school kids, fucking kids. They deserve a slap. And seeing the male dancers junk through their sprayed on tights, that wasn't particularly pleasant either. But at least I could move my eyes from smuggled bananas to the camel toes on stage.

Monday: I'm now sat in a cafe, and instead of searching for language schools to approach to work for, I'm sat here writing this. Time to go.