Sunday, September 14, 2008

War Sore

Am I the first person to come up with that? If so, Yay me.

I am in Warsaw, Poland, and am quite disturbed by the fact that I am obsessed with the idea that I could've smuggled in a gram of narcotics had I bought any in advance.

Nonetheless I didn't, and here I am blogging in an empty hostel living room, slightly drunk. Martin is with me because he didn't break his ankle after all. He got a misdiagnosis; It's a chipped bone, and is currently sat behind me listing capital cities that don't suck. Ergo, he is reeling off every other city on Earth because Warsaw is duller than Gordon Brown giving a fiscal synopsis of the current world crisis in the midst of a black fucking hole.

We arrived earlier this afternoon. Martin was late getting to Luton airport, on account of just being late. I stayed at my Mum's in Watford and slept on her sofa (for 4 hours because I ironed my clothes til 3am and for the first time ever), which was interesting if only for the fact that she's aged since I last saw her and her dog, Baxter, which she mothers to distraction, is now fucking enormous due to not being walked. Ever.

But then Mum is in a wheelchair and can't walk herself, so Baxter's non-perambulation can be forgiven, I think.

I've been here only a half a day, the first Ebola to set foot back in the Mother Country for 133 years, and already I've fucked up. I helped myself to a crisp from an enormous bowl of crisps at the first bar we went to, a matter of minutes after arriving. I thought they were generic bar crisps left for greedy patrons, and not 'dinner' that had just been bought by the Polish customer on my left.

Hilarity ensued for about 3 seconds.

That was the high point. The rest of the evening was spent with us wandering around aimlessly, wondering why (a non-existant) God would create a capital city so devoid of anything fun to do on a Saturday night. But that was very much by-the-by. Warsaw is the Ebola ancestral home, the place from whence my family fled to London over a century ago. And as such, I am finding myself somewhat fucked up.

Imagine if you will a place of purple people. A famous, world-renowned place of jolly, fiddle playing, beard growing, alleged money hoarding and planet controlling purple people, who had lived somewhere for generations. Let's say London was once 10% purple; 3 million souls out of a 30-mil populace. Let's say they lived there for hundreds of years but today, for some Nazi Genocide reason, they have completely disappeared, and all that remains is a street name, and a bookshop, but Absolutely No-one Purple At All. Nothing hammers home the fucking Holocaust more than going back to the country that was most affected and finding no-one of that ilk around. In the slightest. It's fucking eerie, like a tourist attraction that isn't actually there.

I have been British, British and proud (just), for 133 years (not literally). And flee my family did, leaving behind their brothers, sisters, and parents. And while those fleeing ancestors grew up and assimilated into our new tea-drinking, bad teeth having, proper-pronunciation-of-English-having ways, their family of old continued to plod along Polishly.

Now call me fucking stupid for not seeing this a mile off, but Martin wants to go to somewhere called Auschwitz. I don't want to go to Auschwitz, because my family were almost certainly murdered there, and if not there, then in any vast number of Polish death camps, or roadsides, or forests in the country. I don't know this for certain mainly because my direct line arrived in Britain in 1875 and it was too far back for any names to remain in our familial subconsciousness. Needless to say, it's pretty fucking unlikely that said names, my third-or-so cousins, survived, because 20th Century Polish Jewry was virtually 100% extinguished.

I don't want to walk alongside that fucking overgrown traintrack. I don't want to walk through that fucking 'Arbeit Macht Frei' gate. This is a holiday, a wheeeeee-look-at-where-I-came-from! break. I don't want to fucking go.

I sincerely never saw this coming. But if Martin goes, I have to go too. Martin's not a Four-By-Two, a Front-Wheel-Skid, a Kike, a Heeb, a Red Sea Pedestrian, and he's showing an interest in a fundamentally dire historical event. After all, we'll be too near not visit. If I don't go, I'll just be a family-ducking coward.

But I don't think I can take it. It's not that it's more 'special' for me. It's not as if that place is more tragic, more profound, and more goulish. But it's deeply irritating. I've been to Yad Vashem in Jerusalem. I've visited Berlin's Holocaust museum. I've interviewed a survivor of that thing when I was a student and watched enough films and documentaries to know about everything as an objective, impartial observer. But I don't actually want to go to the 'A' place. I will almost certainly cry, and I haven't cried since 1984.

This wasn't in the fucking brochure.

Still not had sex.


Lilly said...

Well, if you go - and if you cry - maybe some nice young tourist lady will be touched by your sensitivity... and then later she might touch you sensitively.

daisyfae said...

although not quite as personal...

found myself in asia visiting my daughter as she traveled the world. we were in Phenom Penh, Cambodia. tour group we were stuck to had arrange the following morning:

0800: The Killing Fields
1000: The Genocide Museum
11:30: The Russian Market
14:00: Flight to Siem Riep
1600: Sunset tour of Angkor Wat


In reality? Changed my life.

If you do it? Breathe deeply. Take it all in. Write lots later.

i stepped on a molar at the killing fields. a human fucking molar. i'll never be the same person i was before...

The Unbearable Banishment said...

My grandparents fled Warsaw for the U.S. via Ellis Island years ago. I am only a second generation American and am finding this all to be very sobering. I was under the impression that Polish women had loose morals and might be easy to bed but this seems to be a lie. I thought it might be fun to trace my roots, but forget about it.

Clarissa said...

You cried the last time you had sex?

Please Don't Eat With Your Mouth Open said...

Went to Warsaw with the boyfriend a couple of years ago. Thought it was the most grey, ugly city ever, then we found the 'old town' (first of many on our e. european tour) and were more swayed by it. In Krakow, I insisted we went to Auschwitz, mostly because the holocaust was something that always struck a chord when I learnt about it at school. I wasn't prepared for how sad I felt at the bigger of the two sites we went to, but the memorial there is something worth seeing. They've made a simple but poignant tribute to everyone who died there, and you should see it.

Angela-la-la said...

You don't have to go, he'll find plenty of other people to talk to.

On the other hand I do think it's a strong experience for any human to have, No 1 Son was extremely moved and he has a teenage heart of stone.

Dom said...

Google say: "You sometimes hear Warsaw called War-sore on account of how heavily it was bombed by both Germans, and Russians during the second world war"

Sorry mate.

Anonymous said...

The place where you originally come is dull and boring? How apt.

Giggle! said...

LMAO you little crisp theif!!! :-P xx

looby said...

You don't *have* to go and you don't have to see it physically for you to absorb its lessons (which it sounds like you already have).

Anonymous said...

If I have to put back my Roger with Sonja one more time I'll be fit to burst! ROGGGGGEEEEERRRRR!

fwengebola said...

Lilly - I can thing of better ways to obtain sexual fumbings though.
Df - Oh criminy, that's bloody horrible. Ugh. Still not sure about the whole ghoulish aspect of visiting these kinds of places, but then I guess you ignore them at your peril.
UB - No, definitely trace your roots. I'll add that it's easier and will probably be more successful doing it from the comfort of your own home on the Internet. As for loose women, I don't think any one country has the claim for that. And in any case, if you look like George Clooney, you'll find that most women from across all nations will throw yourself at you.
That said, Polish women don't seem to be scared of staring right back at you when you stare at them. I don't know if this is a come-on or not.
Clar - Oh, very droll.
PDEWYMO - Oh bloody hell. Well I'll see if I can make plans to visit it tomorrow.
Ang - I'm probably going to go, at this rate. Not sure I want to blog about it though.
Dom - DAMMIT!!!
Anon - I'll wager that you're ginger.
Gig - Yes, the barman found it hysterical. The crispee was less amused. In fact he was furious. You'd've thought I'd shat in the bowl, judging by his reaction.
Looby - No, you're absolutely right, but I do a fine line in regret and I'll feel guilty about not going, particularly when I get back to London.
Anon - What the fuck? Luke??