Saturday, 28 May 2011

mother's day

With our sonny's play in the kindergarten yet to come (this Monday), the celebrations of the Mother's Day resulted in the following bunch of lovely gifts (the card from my 7-year-old daughter):

There were also two paper flowers made with a drinking straw, and singing songs, including Happy Birthday to You (in English, I'm proud to say! The success, however, is to be attributed to the kindergarten teacher, not me...)

And a song, a song! J.J. Barrie 1976.

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Wednesday, 11 May 2011

save me, san francisco

What a great day, what an unexpected surprise! I have just received mail (it sounds like I'm describing vintage postal delivery most of the time here;) from the Polish Radio "Trójka". Radio Station Three, as a more-or-less accurate translation would have it, is the legendary, non-commercial radio, which has developed over the decades its own unique, intelligent and witty style - in fact, anything that is the reverse of the word "cliché".

So this is the envelope, and this is the gift - actually a prize in a competition: "Save Me, San Francisco" album by the band Train. But it's so unusual for another reason, too - it's from a very special person. It's my and my husband's favourite - since we were about 14 years old, I suppose - radio broadcaster, Marek Niedźwiecki.

The word "broadcaster" does not seem to be "capacious" enough to contain all that he has meant for the radio-listeners' subculture of people who don't watch tv, but choose listening. Marek Niedźwiecki knows all about music but never to show off; he tells stories. He picks up the pieces of the ordinary and the unusual, with no pathos but with charming simplicity, and turns his programmes into poetry, into the ambience of one-to-one meeting of friends.

There's a postcard with a few lines attached to the CD as well. I'll put it into my treasure box forever! Marek Niedźdwiecki's Top 30 has grown into a part of our biography, me and my  husband as children started school each Monday morning from sharing with each other the news from the chart (as there were no private phones available then to share on Friday or Saturday evening!). Still, whenever possible to get close to the radio, I listen to Markomania, to the music selected from the albums the existence of which would often remain unknown to me, and the music is one generous gift in itself.

Btw. our friend Joseph from in India listens to "Trójka", too; on-line, to learn Polish!

frank again

I've been reading Frank McCourt's Teacher Man for a couple of days now. I've read his Pulitzer Prize Winner, Angela's Ashes, and 'Tis. A Memoir. I got hold of the former in a second hand clothes shop that used to be packed full with books every Wednesday (not any more, what a pity!), and I used to think: how can people treat books in such a mean way - so as to throw them away, often new, untouched, straight from the bookshop shelf? And on the other hand: what a great benevolence, to give away excellent fiction, thank you very much!

As for Angela's Ashes: a memoir par excellence. McCourt is that kind of writer who immediately establishes a link between himself and the reader. So I felt I was a confidant of the story of his miserable childhood right from the first page. His recollection of the Irish slum (the Limerick "lane", which doomed children to have no prospects for social advance) was, although dramatic, never hopeless. I simply loved his sense of humour, the vividness of the storytelling, the honesty and the acute sense of observation. He died last year on my birthday, which I found a mysterious coincidence - and look forward to meeting him in person when my story, too, comes to an end.

And now: the Teacher Man - his memories of work in American high schools. In twenty pages it has made me laugh several times already.