Jul 262014
Ali's Angle: Men of God

It is never pleasant to hear about child abuse in the news. Especially when the person perpetrating the crime is one you hold in high respect, a person you entrust your children to, a person who has taken a vow of celibacy. I am, of course, talking about priests. Why have I brought up such a touchy subject? Well, a number of reasons. First a priest was arrested in Krakow for the alleged molestation of a nine-year-old girl on a trip to the mountains. This was swiftly followed by an apology from the Polish Catholic Church to all victims of abuse committed by priests; quite something seeing as they have spent many years attempting to hide paedophiles within their ranks. Next came the information that 19 priests were convicted of child abuse between 2010 and 2013. The next day, it turned out that only one of these 19 was sent to prison. Let me make something […]

Jun 122014
Ali's Angle: A Man In a Dress

Spangly, sparkly outfits. Crazy dance routines. Bad music. Beards. Lots of beards. Yes, May 10 was Eurovision Day, and did it not spark a lot of controversy? Poland’s buxom girlies lost out to Austria’s bearded lady in what right-wingers have called ‘the collapse of modern Europe’, a show of ‘decadence’ that was ‘ideologically offensive.’ Really? Okay, decadent, but has the Eurovision not always been that? Is social Armageddon upon us because some bloke wears a dress? I do not think so. I had not seen Eurovision for years, but this time it was a friend’s birthday and he wanted to go to the pub and watch it. So off we went, and I was pleasantly surprised. Far from hours of terrible, cheesy acts (Jedward, anyone?), most of the songs were passable. Some were even fantastic (Pollapönk were my personal favourite. Icelandic punk rock for children? Get in!). From the excited cheers, it seemed people were confident […]

May 132014
Ali's Angle: Poland's John Paul II Divisions

If I were living in the UK, Easter would mean a bank holiday. This can mean a number of things, depending on your age and/or marital status. For people of my parents’ generation, it means staying home to avoid the crowds. For couples with young children, it means going somewhere for a ‘fun’ day out, which inevitably leads to said children developing sunstroke, falling off a piece of play equipment and bashing their head and/or eating too much ice cream and vomiting everywhere. For young singletons like me, it means going out on the razz, usually in beer gardens, and drinking your own body weight in alcohol, which inevitably leads to developing sunstroke, falling over and bashing your head and vomiting everywhere. However, I live in Poland where Easter is a far more sombre affair. Considered the holiest event of the year, it means going to church to have a basket blessed, shops and restaurants closing […]

Apr 282014
Ali's Angle: Don't Mention the War

A recent incident at a German airport involving a German customs officer, a Polish MEP, possibly too much wine and the words ‘Heil Hitler!’ has got me thinking about how we view things differently on either side of the old Iron Curtain. Polish MEP Jacek Protasiewicz may be facing charges after allegedly shouting ‘Heil Hitler!’ at a German customs officer in Frankfurt. Whereas many Brits would think ‘So what?’ the incident has sparked offence in both Germany and Poland. It is hard to get a handle on what actually happened. Not just because the customs officer and Protasiewicz have differing views on the event, but also because of news reporting of the incident. In short: the customs officer says Protasiewicz shouted ‘Heil Hitler!’ at him, then told him to go to Auschwitz. Protasiewicz claims he was offended after being told ‘Raus!’ (‘go’) because, in Poland, this word is similar to saying ‘Heil Hitler!’ and, after being […]

Mar 182014
Ali's Angle: Demonising Poles

As an expat living here in Poland, I’m often asked: “Why are you here?” “What do you think of Poland?” and, of course, “What do British people think of all the Poles living in the UK?” The answers to the first two are simple: “I got a job here and ended up staying,” and “I like it very much, thank you.” The answer to the third is also simple: “Britain is, and has been for the past 2,000 years, a nation built by immigrants. It wouldn’t exist if it wasn’t for immigrants. Most people don’t bat an eyelid.” I have honestly never met a Briton who has an issue with Polish immigrants. Unfortunately, in recent months it seems British politicians and the British media have conspired against me to make it look like Poles are unwanted, lazy leeches, moving to the UK purely to claim benefits. This could not be further from the truth. In October […]

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