Wednesday, 16 February 2011

on the wonders of reading in the library

All right. I've just brought my daughter to some workshop for kids in the nearby library. Which means, I have time to explore.

It's definitely my kind of place. I remember coming to different libraries, always with a bit late delivery of books due a week or two weeks earlier, but always with the sense of entering a world that is complete in itself in a most amazing way. What overwhelmed me to the degree that I seemed to lose my breath was the amount of books still to be read. Probably it was the same feeling that Ali Baba must have experienced when he'd said "Open Sesame!" and entered the cave.

So, let me excuse you for a while. There are namely some shelves that I presently should see to. First, biographies. With no electricity and internet at home today, it turns out a surprisingly great day.

Monday, 14 February 2011

on the dangers of reading in a coffee shop

A coffee shop is not always the best place to read books, even if it is Starbucks with delicious beverages. There is something off-putting in this totally exposed lounge, in the proximity of tables - even though they've furnished the place with cosy sofas and armchairs, you are still just inches away from your neighbour.

So, yesterday I needed just twenty minutes to have a hot chocolate and finish reading "The Horse and His Boy" - one of the Chronicles of Narnia. I had cherished the very thought of such a luxury and looked forward to it with the enthusiasm of a child beginning vacation. However, I was disturbed all the time by the couple sitting at the nearest table, who quite freely discussed the complexities of their sex life. Actually, "sex lives," one should say, because it was actually some sort of counselling, the woman sharing her experience to help the man sort things out for himself with his girlfriend. I will not condescend to quoting.

Enchanted by C.S. Lewis's storytelling and the complete universe he was able to create, I felt I belonged somewhere else, where you can chivalric ideals, honour, friendship - and one true love in a lifetime. The question is: do we have to enter it these days through a closet? Wardrobe, I mean?

Sunday, 13 February 2011

my cup of tea

It's all because I'm not used to writing semi-formal, popular science texts for everyone and no one in particular. I'm far better with small audience, everyday topics, ups and downs of an ordinary individual torn between different roles that our times impose on women, who are supposed these days to be the female version of the superman. I feel much more relaxed when I'm not too serious about staff and about myself in general. And that's where writing becomes fun in itself.

That's why my blog posts here are so scarce. After all, it's a "teacher's blog" - and shouldn't a teacher set example for his/her students? Isn't it expected from a teacher to be a role-model of some kind?

But there is still some hope left for me as the author of this blog. From what the statistics say, most people find this website when they're looking for some facts about the former British PM, Margaret Thatcher. But they have absolutely no idea, how to spell the surname. Thus, they end up here, with a Polish teacher of English, who could not in the least be called an "Iron Lady". Not even an "ironing lady" - because I don't iron. So, bearing in mind the absence of the Reader, maybe it wouldn't do much harm if this writing of mine was less "teacher's" and more "blogging".

Thursday, 10 February 2011

the queue

I was born before 1989, in fact even quite some time before the '80s began, which might not be an advantage if I was a model living by the scheduled catwalk appearances, but it has granted me at least some partial experience of the unforgettable "lean years" of the communist era in Poland.

Unaware of my parents' toil to organize the daily life when no consumer goods were available - not even powdered milk for babies - I remember those times as rich in unexpected surprises. As a child, like all the playground friends, I used to collect chocolate papers. That's right. We had no idea how the "Suchard" or "Milka" chocolate tasted, but we could smell it on the paper it'd been wrapped in. So we kept the papers in boxes and traded them each day for somethng new, but I don't think I'd ever spoken to the first-user, who might have had been lucky enough to receive that chocolate from an uncle in West Germany or to buy it in "Pewex" - a shop selling delicatessen for US dollars. But yes, sometimes we too got a parcel from abroad - and now imagine how we used to cherish each bite, each munch of marsh mellows. Or take that coconut, the frist I and my brother had seen in our lives, that we kept so long before tasting it that it went completely dry.

So, I was unspeakably happy when I found on the BBC news today that you can actually go back in time by playing a new Polish board game - "The Queue". It is about shopping when all the goods were rationed there was nothing to shop for except for vinegar on the empty shelves. And only when "they" (government administration, since nearly all the business was state owned) "threw" something onto those shelves (like for example toilet paper or coffee), your parents would take you to the shop as well, as each of the "queuers" was allowed to buy only one item. Therefore, each pair of hands was an advantage. That's how the gigantic queues were formed, like the one from one of the popular "crisis" photos of the crowd in front of the butcher's:

I've already bought the game and will play it - with my friends and kids. And I love it's stylish box design.