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Dekalog 10

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At his cryptic best, David wraps up the Dekalog with this, number 10.

But fear not! There may well be more to come.



Dekalog 10 - Song lyrics

Dek1 Dek2 Dek3 Dek4 Dek5 Dek6 Dek7 Dek8 Dek9 Dek10


If you ever get the chance to work in the booth at the Committee of Regions the first thing you'll notice is that there are TV screens everywhere. If you look at the ceiling you'll see pods protruding unobtrusively from the ceiling. When someone switches on their microphone these Doctor Who-like contraptions home in on them and you have a perfect view on your monitor. Except of course that people play around with their controls so when you're trying to work suddenly you get a shot of someone looking sheepish and frantically trying to undo. When I have a TV on in front of me I instinctively make myself comfortable and the word beer immediately suggests itself. Then I go into couch potato mode and start noticing things. I have Prosto w Oczy on in the top right quadrant of my screen this minute. Monika Olejnik is interviewing Kazimierz Marcinkiewicz on He's very easy to understand, he smiles a lot and has a very expressive face, he does funny voices and then goes back into his gravitas thing. She follows a line of questioning. You can tell from the body language. Three or four questions go in the same direction then she changes her posture either because she's run into a brick wall or because she's winkled something out of her interlocutor and wants to move swiftly on. In the CoR I always switch off the screen because I find it a terrible distraction. Even now I'm not really paying attention. I'm writing this in Word in the bottom right-hand quadrant and the text of the interview takes up the rest of the screen on the left. Something else I find difficult is when I'm sitting at a table with Polish friends and I'm in passive listening mode but no, they don't like you to just sit there like a wally dug. Every so often they wake you up by saying things like odezwij sie! (say something!) or zgodz sie! (say something!) or Halo, ptasie radio! (say something!). When you've been at a language for a while it's just a matter of flipping a switch and you understand everything perfectly. It's an illusion to think that after several years of reading the texts of interviews, annotating the margins of your books and walking around with a newspaper under your arm what you need to really understand is more reading matter. Obviously what you need is some way of snapping out of pot plant mode. Funnily enough just reading the transcript isn't enough because you just read it. You can be sitting there looking at the images without understanding and you can then turn your attention to the transcript and forget that it's in lock step with the talking heads. The two activities must occur in different parts of the brain. If you're working, especially in plenary, you sometimes get a speech handed into the booth just before the speaker launches forth. If you're lucky you'll have had time to read it through to the end and then translating it is easy as pie. If you only got half way through everything goes swimmingly until you get to that section and then suddenly you lose the ground under your feet. I'm sorry if this has been all around the houses but I've been looking for ways to understand something I'm listening to as if I was reading it. It doesn't seem to be something natural because you can't just think about it. It can't just be Polish because I have other languages and they can be going like the clappers on a subject I know next to nothing about and I get the gist. The difference is that I've been doing that for years. When it gets really hectic I close my eyes. Here as well that technique works. For some strange reason people think that looking at the guy will help or that reading what they're saying will help but actually blocking out both things produces far superior results. But there are other things you can do. Monika and Kazimierz are still going at it hammer and tongs but I've maximised a little section from another interview, with Roman Giertych. 
Monika Olejnik: Roman Giertych, lider Ligi Polskich Rodzin i Monika Olejnik, witam pana.

Roman Giertych: Witam serdecznie.

Monika Olejnik: Panie przewodnicz¹cy, czy Liga Polskich Rodzin poprze poprawkê, fortel, który zastosowa³o PiS w ustawie o samorz¹dach, mianowicie tak¹, ¿e to radni bêd¹ decydowaæ o tym, czy powinny byæ wybory prezydenckie?

Roman Giertych: Ja nie znam jeszcze treœci tej poprawki.

Monika Olejnik: Ja panu czytam, to radni maj¹ decydowaæ, czy wybory maj¹ byæ, czy nie. Taka jest ta poprawka. Prosta.

Roman Giertych: Zastanowimy siê, na pewno idzie to w lepszym kierunku, ni¿ by³o to dotychczas. To radni maj¹ decydowaæ o kwestiach wyborów prezydenckich, a nie Sejm czy rz¹d, dlatego, ¿e w Polsce od 16 lat jest samorz¹dnoœæ i warto tej zasady samorz¹dnoœci nie ³amaæ dla jakiœ tam wzglêdów koniunkturalnych, czy z powodu jednej up³ywaj¹cej kadencji jednego prezydenta.

Monika Olejnik: Ale doskonale pan wie, ¿e chodzi o Warszawê, ¿e PiS nie chce oddaæ Warszawy innym ugrupowaniom i doskonale pan wie, ¿e w Radzie Warszawy wiêkszoœæ ma PiS.

Roman Giertych: No nie. Ma 24 radnych na 60.

I'm concentrating on the bit in the middle, reading it and re-reading it, letting the other interview flow over me without actually blocking it out, just not paying attention. When you have to make a deliberate effort to focus on something, like with magic eye images, you know when you've succeeded because images start to pop up. If PiS has twenty-four seats on the Warsaw town council presumably they’ll need seven more to elect the mayor which is no doubt where the LPR comes in. I’m thinking about the arithmetic, half of sixty is thirty plus one is thirty-one, seven more than PiS has. Once you have that simple arithmetical notion in your head you can go back to the other interview and suddenly everything begins to make sense. In the process I feel as if I’ve tricked myself into using my normal thought processes for another language, so I hear the Polish with sub-titles (albo z lektorem) and the images supply themselves. The more often you switch the crisper the definition. Well it works for me.

What would happen if you had been reading something in English?

This is taken from John Prescott’s speech to conference this year:,13803,1055155,00.html

Mind you, chair, I should declare an interest. I've had an offer myself. Don't laugh - it's good money. All I have to do is write my memoirs.

The Daily Mail say they'll serialise it. And another newspaper wants a weekly column. All for six-figure sums apparently.

But I looked at the small print. First, it said I have to resign from the cabinet. Second, no articles supporting Labour. To earn that kind of money I've got to do something else: I've got to slag off the government and my former colleagues.

Then it says: "don't worry if you take a different position now to the one you took in cabinet - we'll just say that shows what an independent thinker you are". Well conference, I haven't been an MP for 33 years just to use the Daily Mail to attack any Labour government, let alone this one.

So let me say to those in our party who claim that the government has betrayed Labour's values. Our achievements would have been celebrated by our party at any time in its history.

They’re offering him more than a hundred thousand pounds to write his memoirs. He’s been an MP for thirty-three years. He would no longer be a minister. He wouldn’t be able to criticise the sitting government. These are the things that Marcinkiewicz is talking about. When you put it like that it doesn’t sound so daft.

If my head was a pumpkin with a clock face at the equator like Dali’s watch then when I read Prescott it all happens at ten o’clock, somewhere near Seattle (especially the words but I looked at the small print), but when I read the Polish excerpt (especially the nie ³amaæ dla jakiœ tam wzglêdów koniunkturalnych bit), it’s somewhere else, two o’clock or thereabouts, east of Germany). If I was doing it in English I would take lines from The Journey of the Magi by T.S.Eliot

‘A cold coming we had of it,

Just the worst time of the year

For a journey, and such a journey:

The ways deep and the weather sharp,

The very dead of winter.’

And the camels galled, sore-footed, refractory,

Lying down in the melting snow.

There were times we regretted

The summer palaces on slopes, the terraces,

And the silken girls bringing sherbet.

... because the juxtaposition (zestawienie) of footsore bactrians and dusky serving wenches is so in your face.

I carry little bits of poetry around with me but for some reason I’ve never memorised a poem in Polish. If I wanted to remind myself where Polish was I would learn Slowka by Szymborska:

S³ówka - La Pologne? La Pologne? Tam strasznie zimno, prawda? - spyta³a mnie i odetchnê³a z ulg¹. Bo porobi³o siê tych krajów tyle, ¿e najpewniejszy jest w rozmowie klimat.

- O pani - chcê jej odpowiedzieæ - poeci mego kraju pisz¹ w rêkawicach. Nie twierdzê, ¿e ich wcale nie zdejmuj¹; je¿eli ksiê¿yc przygrzeje, to tak. W strofach z³o¿onych z gromkich pohukiwañ, bo tylko to przedziera siê przez ryk wichury, œpiewaj¹ prosty byt pasterzy fok. Klasycy ryj¹ soplem atramentu na przytupanych zaspach. Reszta, dekadenci, p³acz¹ nad losem gwiazdkami ze œniegu. Kto chce siê topiæ, musi mieæ siekierê do zrobienia przerêbli. O pani, o moja droga pani.

Tak chcê jej odpowiedzieæ. Ale zapomnia³am, jak bêdzie foka po francusku. Nie jestem pewna sopla i przerêbli.

- La Pologne? La Pologne? Tam strasznie zimno, prawda?

- Pas du tout - odpowiadam lodowato.

Not the whole thing, just the bit about the walrus herders.



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