Krakow Chronicles: Poland In 2010

January

Donald Tusk turns up the heat as Poland shivers in a winter freeze. The prime minister shrugs off concerns about freak weather patterns and global warming, stating that, as one of the most populous and poorer of the EU member states, Poland has the right to burn more fuel than other European countries. In a rare sign of political détente, the president agrees. Had it not been for the Second World War, he says, there would now be many more Poles and thus a stronger Polish economy, enabling Poland to contribute more to anti-global warming measures.

February

Hospitals across Krakow report a spate of eye-related injuries as male Poles, victims of a heady mix of good-old fashioned romance and contemporary consumerism, seek to outdo each other in offering their Valentines red roses with ever-longer stems. The city lays on special trams with extra long carriages to ferry the injured and their lengthening objects of desire to and from hospitals.

March

The Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin is to promote a new range of hair-care products, “Tsar for Men”. Vlad has, apparently, been looking for a way to connect with his people. In a rare reference to the good old days, he will say that “all Russian men and Russian women have hair. This is what we have in common. Baldness is an illusion conjured up by the enemies of the people.” Sales are expected to be high – if you know what’s good for you, that is.

April

The use of mobile phones in any public place in Poland is to be punishable by death. According to studies by the Jagiellonian University, social changes, including increasing affluence, mean that Poles are not communicating with each other as they did prior to the advent of the now ubiquitous communications technology. The new law, which will no doubt be welcomed by anyone over the age of 50 and all of those other reactionaries who never want anyone to have any fun anyway, is the result of literally minutes of political focus group activity. The president – always a strong advocate of capital punishment – says that once you’ve been killed for improper use of a telephone, you are statistically very unlikely to reoffend.

June

Remembering all too well the taste of tyranny, a Polish dairy products manufacturer is to launch a new range of ice cream products here in Poland. The ice creams (with names such as “Nutty Nirvana”, “Solidarity Sorbet” and “Stop the Illegal Chinese Occupation of Tibet Vanilla”) are expected to be lapped up by both socially aware consumers and fans of 1920s avant-garde cinema.

July

In a move that will surprise many commentators, Donald Tusk will announce that, with over six months of his term in office still remaining, he is to quit politics to concentrate on the history of organic jam and its role in The Breakthrough, as Poles call the end of the communist era. Apparently, the amateur historian has been considering an alternative lifestyle for some time and, after experimenting with years of political infighting and ignoring the realities of climate change, feels the time is fast approaching for the publication of his magnum opus, Seven Years in Sopot, or Why Jarosław Can’t Make Jam for Toffee.

September

Reports will come in from all over Krakow that shop workers have begun smiling and generally being polite towards customers. According to Professor Jan Nowak of the Krakow Psychological Centre, the syndrome, which he has labelled About Bloody Time Syndrome (ABTS), compels the sales assistants to behave almost as if they wished to create a mood of calmness and happiness in the customer and help ensure their return to their shop at some future point.

November

The Polish Scientific Society will recommend the reclassification of the traditional Polish year. Firstly, the Christmas break will be extended until the end of February, thus doing away with that fiddly bit between New Year and the winter school holidays. Meanwhile, March will unfortunately still be a working month, although April will see an extension of the Easter festivities with a proposed new two-week super-break. Unfortunately, owing to the government’s recently-published crisis budget, May and June will see the introduction of four-day weeks in all government departments, meaning a 25 percent increase in the length of all queues in local government offices. However, respite may be found in a long-overdue readjustment reflecting the realities of Polish life: July and August will from now on officially be “no work months”. And, although the decision has yet to be officially made, the continuing pressure on education budgets and the usual delays in pre-semester renovations may well see schools open as late as mid-October, instead of September.

December

Monasteries and churches across Poland will be plagued by an unexplained attack of Tourrette’s Syndrome. The mental disorder, which compels the individual to utter inappropriate and even offensive language, will cause heated arguments and even fights to break out amongst the normally placid clergy. Emergency services in Poland, Slovakia, Germany and even Vatican City will struggle to contain the problem. How exactly the outbreak will begin is a mystery, although it will probably begin with the president saying something very rude about the Germans.

Selected pieces by John Marshall may be found at http://krakowjohnradio.blogspot.com.

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