Perspectives on Poland: Murdoch, bras and rubber gloves

Krakow Post readers will be pleased to note that the only connection this newspaper has with News Corp. and the Evil Professor Murdoch is that Sky Sports is occasionally on in the background of the bars we frequent. I closed down our phone hacking department months ago after an unfortunate incident in which a researcher lapsed into a coma while listening to a recording of President Komorowski droning on about his dry cleaning.

Schadenfreude is enormously tempting, partly because it provides an opportunity to use the word ‘schadenfreude,’ but also because we’re jealous – it’s hard to imagine the Krakow Post doing something that would get us headline coverage around the globe. We are, admittedly, a relatively small newspaper, but a bigger problem is the fact that the majority of our readers can’t vote here, which means politicians don’t need to care about what we say. It is, therefore, very satisfying to present Anthony Casey’s interview with Krakow politician Łukasz Gibała in this edition. The non-Polish population of Krakow is large and growing. We pay our taxes and are a part of the community. It’s time our voices were heard.

To return to the point, insofar as there was one, I’ve been making a special effort this month to immerse myself in Polish yellow journalism. The Polish media are generally tip-toeingly respectful of the great and the good of Polish society but there is no lack of ambition to copy the most sensational aspect of the West’s achievements in the bludgeoning of general IQ.

I’ve become a particular fan of UWAGA! on channel TVN. Any program that announces itself with the title ‘Look Out!’ in bright yellow block capitals immediately commands my respect. This week we were treated to an in-depth report into the phenomenon of topless cleaning ladies. These are deliberately topless or scantily-clad cleaners rather than the merely absent-minded variety. The idea is that you fork out 200 złoty an hour in return for watching a pair of women wearing only their knickers hoovering your dining room.

The reality, covered by a dozen hidden cameras, was probably the least erotic thing I have seen since Britney Spears decided that limousines and underwear don’t go together. I’m risking a domestic lynching here but I think it’s fair to say that underwear and domestic chores are not an unfamiliar combination in the average Polish household. The women featured in UWAGA!’s ‘shocking’ report were attractive and toned, as many Polish women are, but they were clearly just wearing their day-to-day underwear and went about the task of scrubbing the gap under the fridge with a vigour that their grandmothers would have approved of. In other words, the ‘cleaning’ part of the equation was alarmingly more focused than the ‘underwear’ part. The whole thing took on a femdom aspect that was far from explicit in the ads. It costs me not a penny to be told off for not using a coaster by a woman wearing a bra and rubber gloves – perhaps I’m just lucky.

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