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Posts by Radders  

Joined: 25 Jan 2013 / Male ♂
Last Post: 26 Feb 2013
Threads: 3
Posts: 47
From: London UK
Speaks Polish?: No
Interests: Polymath

Displayed posts: 50 / page 1 of 2
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Radders   
25 Jan 2013
UK, Ireland / Why are Brits so left-wing? [60]

Conservatives will TEND to stay at home, liberals will TEND to be a bit more mobile

Or, like our 19th Century Prime Minister, Palmerston, have a reputation as a Conservative at home and a Liberal abroad?

The British left would argue that most Brits aren't left-wing enough - we don't support the Scandinavian-style welfare state with high taxation, nor the French style of social protectionism and job security or the German compulsion for social-democratic consensus. However, most Brits of all political shades support a free, national health service - something most Americans regard as 'socialist'. Our comfort zone is somewhere around government spending at a third of GDP, and currently you're seeing a claw-back from the 40% level reached by the last left-wing government.

We're also, on the whole, incredibly tolerant. Our immigration is more in the US 'melting pot' pattern that gives everyone a fair go than the 'apartheid' of Turks in Germany or North Africans in France. Of course we've had the English catholic rather than the Latin catholic church setting the moral agenda for the last 450 years so we don't get too excited about people's sexual behaviour - and most of our Puritans left in the Mayflower in disgust, to morph into Sarah Palin and the Tea Party ...

Combine that with an affection for tradition and history, a love of 'fair play' and having a capital that is a truly international city and quite different from the rest of the country and I can understand why Americans think us left-wing.
Radders   
25 Jan 2013
UK, Ireland / How might Britain`s withdrawal from EU affect Poles there and here? [474]

Sorry, the British are not European... they are...insular

Insular? Yes, but European also. In pre-easyJet days there was once a newspaper headline - "Heavy fog in the Channel; Europe cut-off" which illustrates our Anglocentric viewpoint.

But everything we are, our art and architecture, our sacred and profane beliefs, our science and culture, industry and scholarship are all rooted in a common European identity. A learned person can stand in Krakow, Norwich, Florence, Heidelberg or Antwerp and see the same early and undeveloped application of Vitruvius to buildings that heralded the same Renaissance, and likewise the first and second Enlightenments reached across the Channel westwards just as they reached eastwards into Poland. Similarly, you could step into any English church and hear the people proclaim the same Nicene Credo as heard in every Catholic church from Porto to Poznan. Our arts and culture, music and painting fed from each other in an interchange of ideas and innovations. From the earliest days our trade with the Hanseatic ports and the Baltic brought our wool to clothe the szlachta and returned with iron, resin and furs. So we're absolutely European in this sense.

But it's true we're most reluctant to give up our sovereignty to the EU. Perhaps it's because no-one has invaded us in a thousand years, that we have never in living memory been occupied. So we want all the advantages of a free market, of free movement for goods and workers, and we're even happy to pay into EU funds to build infrastructure like roads and bridges and ports that assist trade and movement in the newly-joined nations. But we look at Van Rumpoy and Barroso and shake our heads - the idea of such people governing us is an anathema.
Radders   
26 Jan 2013
Food / What do non-Poles think about eating the following Polish foods? [1044]

In the early Summer of last year, on a warm and clear morning, the market produce stalls in the Plac Nowy were groaning under the weight of the freshest and best of local produce; tender spears of asparagus, fat tomatoes like rubies, new potatoes fresh from the soil. Here were riches indeed, no doubt from the market gardens and smallholdings around the city, nothing more than a day old and all with the freshness and full flavour and taste of produce not grown in an agricultural factory. Then it's bought by the local restaurants, who destroy every virtue it has.

I searched for a restaurant for lunch that day that was serving asparagus - I wanted just a very simple plate of lightly steamed spears with a sauce Hollandaise, or failing that just with unsalted butter. You can't get much simpler - nor enjoy a taste more intense. I must have walked 3km and it was 2pm before I found one serving asparagus at all - and this st the height of the season - and what they served was a travesty that made me weep. First they wrapped a few boiled-to-death asparagus spears in prosciutto and suffocated them in a thick, cloying cheese sauce. Then feeling this was not enough, sprinkled Dill all over. But the chef was still not happy - so a few shavings of parmesan were added (this was after all one of Krakow's most chic restaurants). But still he was not ready to send it out from the kitchen - until he had added a couple of quartered strawberries to crown the heap.

Now I'm on a mission to find modern Polish cuisine that uses the high quality fruit, vegetables, fish, meat and charcuterie that Poland is so rich in, and somewhere there is a chef who knows that;

1. Less is more - quality ingredients with taste and texture don't need much help
2. You don't have to add Dill to everything
3.Offal is good but only if you know how to cook it
4. Fish and shellfish is best cooked quickly 'a point' so that the flesh is just 'seized' and opaqueness disappears. Just a few minutes.
5. Likewise vegetables. And apples don't need baking to make them edible.
6. Know when to stop adding ingredients
7. Don't make bad copies of classic French dishes or repeat the mistakes of 'nouvelle cuisine' - use traditional Polish flavours (sour rye, beet, wild herbs and berries, wild mushrooms) in new dishes

8. Poles are hugely talented - every town has a Wojciech Amaro just waiting to shine
Radders   
27 Jan 2013
UK, Ireland / How might Britain`s withdrawal from EU affect Poles there and here? [474]

While it's true that the most visible Poles in Britain are the tradesmen, construction workers and those in the hospitality industry, these are probably the workers that Poland can afford to lose, at least temporarily. A bigger problem I think is the 'free rider' problem and global professional drag. British doctors and nurses are queueing up to leave for the US, where they can earn many times their British salary and enjoy exceptional standards of living. A cousin of mine who is in her first year of medical school here told me over Christmas that she's leaving for the US as soon as she's finished her clinical training. In their place come Polish doctors and nurses, who can earn many times their Polish salary ...

Repeat this across the professional categories and the net effect is that the poorest nations are bearing the cost of education and training whilst the richest are enjoying the benefits. And who takes the place in Poland of the skilled Polish doctors and dentists who leave to work in the UK or Germany? Ukrainians? Turks?

Whatever new relationship the UK seeks with the EU, I'm pretty sure it will include free movement of labour. I think many of our public services would collapse without it.
Radders   
27 Jan 2013
News / Poland is the source of horsemeat in burgers? [169]

a meat which has "additives" of a meat of different type is nothing suprising really

As I understand it, the horsemeat was all found in 'filler'. Filler is a meat powder from blasting carcass bones under high pressure to remove all traces and scraps of meat sticking to the bones after de-boning, then removing water from this slurry. The cheaper the burgers, the less ground beef and the more 'filler' they contain. It drips out as a grey goo when they're cooking.

More importantly, many could be innocent; who can tell horse bones from cow bones? And when the carcass slurry is dried down it's just a grey mush that no-one can identify by sight or smell as being one meat or another - only DNA testing will reveal its source
Radders   
27 Jan 2013
News / Poland is the source of horsemeat in burgers? [169]

There's a good side to all this; the use of slurry or mechanically recovered meat (MRM) from beef carcasses risks inclusion of parts of the spinal cord - the high risk area for BSE prions. So great is the risk that the USDA has banned beef slurry altogether in the US - but still permits up to 20% pork slurry in hot dogs.

Horse isn't a risk for BSE - so the use of horse filler rather than beef filler is actually a healthier option ;)
Radders   
28 Jan 2013
History / Origins of Poland national differences? [41]

It is obvious you couldn`t invade your kin.

The occupation of Berlin from 1945 revealed an essential difference between France and the Soviet Union on the one hand and the UK and US on the other. The issue was fraternisation. Both French and Russians, from ancient experience, believed the conqueror would lessen the future threat from the conquered by implanting their own DNA in the wombs of the occupied peoples, thus the Russians were ordered to, and the French troops encouraged, to 'fraternise' with as many German women as possible. In contrast, the UK and US tried to impose strict penalties on any troops found in a relationship with a German woman.

The threat this racial mixing poses goes very deep, as witnessed by the dreadful penalties imposed in liberated France, Belgium and Russia on women who had slept with the German invader. Nor is this ancient history - in the recent Bosnian war, rape was again a sanctioned weapon against the occupied as the victors sought to implant their DNA in the wombs of the enemy's women.

It would be fascinating to see DNA research in present-day Prussia to see just how much Russian genes have diluted those of the native population over the years of occupation.
Radders   
28 Jan 2013
Life / Do young Polish people believe in their religion and god? [64]

I'm currently reading 'Faith and Fatherland: Catholicism, Modernity and Poland' (Brian Porter-Szucs, OUP,)

He writes "The conviction that the state was an alien force, and that Poles needed to struggle for independence was not only a reference to the undeniable Soviet hegemony over the Warsaw Pact countries. More deeply, it was an assertion that only a fully Catholic state could be a national state. This is why many hardliners in the Church refuse to this day to acknowledge that their country is independent; as a secular liberal democracy, it cannot, by definition, be Polish. The new masters might be labeled EU bureaucrats, Jews, gays, Masons, etc., but it is accepted as a given that they cannot be Polish because they are not building a Catholic state."

This equation, Polak-Katolik, an inseparable pairing, he argues, is so fundamental, so intrinsic to Polish identity that to be Polish is to be Catholic. Yet this is a curious logic that also admits that "non-Catholic Poles are our brothers with equal rights [pełnoprawnymi współbraćmi] ... Our history provides much evidence that the Catholicism of Polish culture does not prevent Poles who are not Catholics to feel that they are its fully-endowed heirs and co-creators."

Or second-class citizens perhaps?
Radders   
28 Jan 2013
Life / Do young Polish people believe in their religion and god? [64]

I can't understand why foreigners want to see Poland as fundamentalistic country

Well, this foreigner doesn't. However, reconciling a secular Poland in the manner of a secular England to what one sees and experiences does pose many questions - I'm genuinely trying to understand, not to give offence. The author writes "99% of all children in Poland are baptized, 92.8% of all marriages are accompanied by a church wedding, and between 90% and 98% of the population will answer 'Roman Catholic' when asked about their religion

Poland may be secular - but to imagine it's secular in the same way as England may be misleading? Or not?
Radders   
28 Jan 2013
Life / Do young Polish people believe in their religion and god? [64]

It is to do with the fear of Catholicism, anti Catholic fear and loathing is deeply ingrained in many

Yes, that's true. Growing up as a Roman Catholic in England I always felt slightly cautious, part of a minority against whom violence could break out unexpectedly. Until very recently a Catholic was still prohibited from high political office in England. One learned to,well, not hide, but not to announce one's Catholicism. And (until 1989) our churches were empty save for the old, there were no new vocations, and the church seemed as though it had come to an end here.

So when I attend mass in Poland in packed churches, with pews full of all ages, I should feel encouraged. But it merely raises a thousand more questions about the relationships between a man, the Church and the State.

I don't believe in this data

The author quotes Borowik and Doktór, 23. Borowik, Irena and Tadeusz Doktór, Pluralizm religijny i moralny w Polsce: raport z badań. Kraków: Nomos, 2001

I thought that secularism means something else

England has a State religion but is secular. Poland has no State religion but is less secular than England. Go figure.
Radders   
28 Jan 2013
History / Origins of Poland national differences? [41]

Your claims are just rediculous.First of all haplogroups of Russians and Germans are somewhat related.For Germans one of the main haplogroup is R1b and for Russians R1a.What seems to be just slightly different variety of the same haplogroup.And approx. 25 % of East Germans already have R1a haplogroup which is associated with the Slavs (and other Indo-Europeans).

I think you're confused about the science. R1b is common across Europe but particularly Western Europe - nearly all of it in the form R1b1a2. In contrast R1 and particularly R1a1a is prevalent in much of central and eastern Europe; there is a sharp increase in R1a1 and decrease in R1b1b2 as one goes east from Germany to Poland (Kayser et al 2005).

The authors write "We suggest here that the pronounced population differentiation between the two geographically neighbouring countries, Poland and Germany, is the consequence of very recent events in human population history, namely the forced human resettlement of many millions of Germans and Poles during and, especially, shortly after World War II" They found a resulting genetic border between Poland and Germany that closely resembles the course of the political border between both countries.

What we're lacking of course is Haplogroup samples pre-dating 1945 to make valid comparisons. So neither you nor I can assert with any certainty what is and what isn't the effect of occupation or of post war re-settlement. But I'm sure someone is working on it.

.
Radders   
28 Jan 2013
History / Origins of Poland national differences? [41]

Ah! Now I've found data that really is interesting

Germans, speaking Germanic West IE language:

Germany generally:- R1b 50% R1a 6.2%
Germany Berlin only - R1b 23% R1a 22%

Which is a substantial difference, and could support my first point. But as I say, since we don't know what Berlin's figures were before 1945 we'll never know.
Radders   
28 Jan 2013
History / Origins of Poland national differences? [41]

Haha! No, it's not the prevalent Norwegian haplogroup at all - see

Euro Haplogroups

I'm not seriously concerned about it at all - just suggesting that the racial mingling between the Red Army and 2m German women may actually have produced a measurable result - but there's not even enough evidence to prove that, so it remains an open question.
Radders   
28 Jan 2013
History / Origins of Poland national differences? [41]

Yes - absolutely correct. We Western euros - particularly R1b1b2s - came originally from the Caspian Sea / Central Asia about 20,000 years ago, reaching the Caucasus about 10,000 years ago, whilst you R1as originated in Southern Russia about 21,000 years ago

So yes, despite the stereotypes about 'asiatic' Russians, we westerners are actually the asiatic ones and the Russins are actually Europeans .... haha I love genetics
Radders   
28 Jan 2013
UK, Ireland / How might Britain`s withdrawal from EU affect Poles there and here? [474]

I'm sorry but I have to disagree

1. There's a big difference between London and small towns and cities in respect of eastern european immigration; in London we're more laid back about being an international city, our economy is booming, property is being sold off-the-book etc. I don't underestimate the cultural impact a large number of EEs will have on a small, close-knit town and Gillian Duffy was right to voice her concerns to Brown.

2. On my last development site the contractors had (amongst many others) 2 Albanians, a Romanian paving gang and a lad from Moldova. They were referred to collectively as 'the Poles'. In fact, just about anyone from EE gets lumped in as 'Polish' - many aren't

3. OK, there are cultural differences. They don't understand our habit of catching massive Carp and then putting them back in the water, or of not eating docile swans that waddle towards them. And free from the threat of arrest and imprisonment (4,000 currently in jail in Poland for this offence) they delight in London in cycling whilst drunk. Drinking vodka on the bus at 6.30am just because it's cold is also not widely understood here. These are minor quibbles and often cause more laughter than grief.

4. They graft. They turn up each day. They're not servile - they can answer back, which is good. And they have a sense of humour and like a beer, which is better. They're enterprising - and a recent academic study showed that they pay more in tax to the UK than they take in public services.

5. They don't have to like us, or our way of life. They're here to earn money and we employ them because they're both good and cheap.

6. Brown was mentally ill and saw demons everywhere he looked. Good riddance.

On the whole, I think we've both got a decent bargain.
Radders   
28 Jan 2013
UK, Ireland / How might Britain`s withdrawal from EU affect Poles there and here? [474]

there are people who are genuinely interested in Great Britain in terms of culture, history and language

Ah well, it's often reciprocated ;)

I was responding to Oxon's point "They disguise this fact with bright little smiles and appearing personable upon meetings with them but below the surface, they know exactly what they are doing. They care little about this country .." which I though very unfair - no-one should be so scared of bigotry that they fawn like a scolded dog; it's an affront to human dignity, and offensive to every ideal of fairness and support for the underdog that we hold dear. Perhaps instead of the 'bright little smiles' they should try a mouthful of fire-eyed rage-spitting fluent Polish invective ...
Radders   
29 Jan 2013
Travel / Hard Candy - Krakow, Poland - reviews? [124]

Strangely they seemed to operate within the law

Yep - in London they're 'near beer' clip joints, serving beer under 2% ABV or weak fizzy wine, for which they don't need a drinks license. It adds insult to injury for the poor suckers that get scammed that they're paying £50 a pint for 2% ...but the tariff is on display (in small letters, in a dimly lit corner) so it's legal. As the girls don't actually promise anything they don't deliver, it's not deception, either.

It plays on male vanity and that blokes seem to lose all common sense at a sniff of skirt. Common in the 'party' destinations - Prague, Budapest - I guess it was only a matter of time before it reached Krakow. You can be fairly sure that others will follow.

While I empathise with the guys who get scammed, clipping has its funny side. I was a member of a drinking club in Soho - the Colony Room - with the entrance at the top of a dingy flight of stairs from the street, not much different from the entrances to flats used by 'working girls'. Clippers would take money from punters on the street and tell them to "Go straight up, dearie, the girl's waiting for you". As the poor punter opened the door and walked into a private bar full of artists and intellectuals and their sad little faces changed from lust to shock to realisation and to shame we couldn't feel anything but sympathy for them. The humour came from the very few who refused to believe they'd been scammed and kept asking 'where's the girl?'
Radders   
29 Jan 2013
UK, Ireland / London is Poland's 24th largest city [15]

OK, there are all sorts of assertions made on here about Poles in the UK so I thought it may be helpful to post up some primary-source data. Some of this will prove counter-intuitive for those fond of stereotypes.

Demographics
Of the 579,121 Polish born citizens living in England and Wales at the time of the last census in 2011, some 158,300 were resident in London - making the UK's capital also Poland's 24th largest city, coming between Rzeszów (166k) and Ruda Śląska (145k). The top 10 London boroughs for Poles are:-

Ealing (21,507)
Haringey (10,865)
Brent (10,575)
Hounslow (10,355)
Barnet (8,614)
Waltham Forest (8,197)
Lambeth (6,934)
Merton (6,895)
Wandsworth (6,814)
Newham (6,142)

(Source: Office for National Statistics)

Economic Activity
A 2007 study carried out by the Institute for Public Policy Research gave the following for Polish-born citizens in the UK, with UK-born comparators:-

Employment Status -
............... Poles UK
Employed 85% 78%
Unemployed 4% 4%
inactive 11% 18%

Average age of leaving full time education
Poles UK
20.5 17.5

Average gross hourly pay
Poles UK
£7.30 £11.10

Average weekly hours worked
Poles UK
41.5 36.5

Average weekly tax & NI contributions
Poles UK
£94.40 £140.60

Proportion claiming income support
Poles UK
1% 4%

Proportion claiming sickness or disability benefits
Poles UK
<0.5% 6%

Proportion living in social (public) housing
Poles UK
8% 17%

Proportion resident before 2000 who own their own home outright (no mortgage)
Poles UK
46% 27%

... and finally Alcohol Consumption - litres of pure alcohol per person per annum (Source: World Health Organisation 2011)
Poles UK
13.25 13.37
Radders   
30 Jan 2013
News / Polish Business Centre Club hammers another nail in Blair's coffin [35]

Already Tony Blair is one of Britain's most reviled politicians, loathed equally by those across the political spectrum, not only for being Bush's poodle in Iraq or for his naked greed in making money, but for opening Britain's doors to non-EU immigrants. Now the Polish Business Club has given him an award, presented in Warsaw yesterday, for, amongst other things, opening Britain's labour market to Poles.

dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2270398/Tony-Blair-national-hero-Polish--Former-PM-given-award-country-helping-thousands-come-live-Britain.html

You'd need a heart of stone not to laugh - nothing could have been guaranteed to worsen his already rock-bottom reputation in the UK.
Radders   
30 Jan 2013
Life / Washing machine in the bathroom of Poles [78]

The English house still clings to an order of room preference established in mediaeval times; the main entrance leads into the 'hall' - once the largest space, now much diminished. From the hall at one end would be the 'parlour' (from 'parler' - the talking room) and 'solar' above, with a pantry and buttery at the other end where food and beer were stored ready to serve. The kitchen, because of the risk of fire, was sometimes a separate building, or at least right at the back of the others. The kitchen - the cooking room - was also separate from the scullery, where 'wet' operations took place. The scullery has become the utility room, and therefore the most common place in English houses for a washing machine.

Many European dwellings were based on two rooms - one for living in, where everything took place (cooking, eating, sleeping) and the other for the livestock. In old Austrian farmhouses, the main entrance always leads into this main room, now commonly a kitchen / dining area taking up most of the ground floor. Polish houses may be the same.
Radders   
30 Jan 2013
UK, Ireland / Polish women that go "off the rails" in London [15]

Ah; men always expect that women will stay the same, whereas women expect that men can be changed ...

Both wrong assumptions on which many relationships have come to grief
Radders   
30 Jan 2013
Life / Washing machine in the bathroom of Poles [78]

So the water goes on the floor?

I imagine the old USSR twin-tub top loaders were a bit like UK washing machines from the 1960s - the outlet was a loose hooked rubber hose one hung over the sink.
Radders   
30 Jan 2013
News / Polish Business Centre Club hammers another nail in Blair's coffin [35]

He launched an illegal invasion of a sovereign country

Yes, and remember that Chilcot still has to report (estimated at this Summer but don't bet on it); Blair lied and lied to both Iraq enquiries, and Chilcot may just help provide evidence to prosecute Blair. The accusations he's failed to answer include;

Misleading Parliament over the legality of an invasion
Misleading the nation over Weapons of Mass Destruction
Misleading parliament about intelligence
Falsely blaming French for collapse of United Nations talks
Exaggerating to Parliament the threat from Saddam
Marginalising his most senior legal adviser
Pressuring Lord Goldsmith into clearing military action
Misleading the nation over the threat from Iraq
Hiding his discussions with President Bush from the public
Hiding his discussions with President Bush from colleagues
Launching an invasion whose sole (and illegal) justification was regime change
Recklessly undermining the weapons inspectors' work
Reckless disregard for the well-being of Iraqi civilians
Failing to fund post-war reconstruction properly
Recklessly endangering British civilians

Personally, I'd deliver the chiselling little crook over to the Hague tomorrow - let him rot in jail there with Karadzic and other war criminals.
Radders   
30 Jan 2013
UK, Ireland / I'm from a small town in the UK and I think Poland is a nation of criminals [37]

This may help - official Home Office conviction data as reported to UK Parliament.

Taking the 2010 figures, some 600,000 Poles committed 8,000 offences (1.3%). Lithuanians - 97,000 in UK 4,700 offences (4.8%), Irish 407,000 in UK 4,200 offences (1%) Romanians 80,000 in UK 4,500 offences (5.6%)

See my previous threads for stats of numbers of EU nationals in the UK.

So, Poles are about as criminal as the Irish and substantially less so than either Lithuanians or Romanians. And as I've never heard anyone whine about how the Irish are filling our prisons etc I suspect that the native UK crime rate is about the same.

Don't forget that it's frequently young men who come to work in the UK - the peak risk age for criminal conviction in any society.

Ahem. And we don't put drunk cyclists in jail - unlike the 4,000-odd doing time in Poland ;)
Radders   
31 Jan 2013
News / Polish Business Centre Club hammers another nail in Blair's coffin [35]

Yes - like the bankrupt SE London Health Trust, so crippled by PFI debt that it can't keep QEII hospital open. The proposal is now to shut facilities in a neighbouring hospital to force seriously ill patients to use QEII, causing a protest march of 25,000 on the streets last weekend

Thank You, Mr Blair

For selling honours for cash for his party, devaluing chivalric orders and miring the honours system in political sleaze

Thank You, Mr Blair

For leading a Parliament mired with the filth of sleaze, corruption, peculation, avarice and mendacity, to the extent that his own MPs were openly stealing public funds - for which few have still been imprisoned - earning his term of office the name of the 'Rotten Parliament'

Thank You, Mr Blair

For failing to remove a man with deep psychological flaws from control over the nations' finances, causing record debts and deficits that our grandchildren will still be paying off. The new Treasury minister found a note in his desk draw from his predecessor - "The money's all gone".

Thank You, Mr Blair

For an illegal war that has cost the lives of many times more Iraqis than ever died under Saddam, poisoned the land with depleted Uranium causing birth defects, all to maintain cheap oil

Thank You, Mr Blair

For representing Britain with a face of sanctimonious smugness, pseudo-religious self-righteousness and insufferable conceit whilst lying fluently at every turn, spewing hypocrisy, vomiting mendacity, distortion, omission and misrepresentation, and all with a deaths-head coprophage rictus grin

Thank You, Mr Blair

I loathe that man so very, very much.
Radders   
31 Jan 2013
News / Polish Business Centre Club hammers another nail in Blair's coffin [35]

You have so much hatred inside you. Do you ever read the Daily Mail?

Selfish coward go away.

Oh dear oh dear. Ad hominem responses are always the refuge of those unable to address the arguments. I take it neither of you actually has a cogent and relevant response to make?
Radders   
31 Jan 2013
Life / Foreigners in Poland - the identities of our native or the host country [66]

Good post. Yes, it's usually conjugated "I'm an expat, you're a foreign worker, he's an immigrant". My exposure to Poland is limited to about a month each year in aggregate, so I haven't yet experienced life as a resident expat - it's just 4 hours from Krakow to opening my front door in London.

However, an old Polish hand here who has spent 25 years - through the fall of the wall - TEFL in Poland briefed me kindly and one thing he said has stuck. Poles, he said, had been betrayed so many times by so many other peoples, had spent so much of their history reliant on themselves in the face of hostile foreign occupation and intrusive domestic surveillance that true trust rarely extended beyond their immediate family. As a consequence it was impossible to form the sort of deep friendships with Poles we know here because there would always be some restraint, some mistrust on their part. Now, I have to take his word on this - I haven't the experience to know the truth of it either way.

However, since the collective attitude of officialdom reflects the popular view, I'm not surprised to find a lack of appreciation apparent if this is true. It's not the sort of 'manana' frustration one encounters in the Club Med nations but a sort of inbuilt reluctance to make things easy for foreigners. And if so, there's little a Polish government can do about it.