Three Monkeys Online

A Curious, Alternative Magazine


I went up the country. It turns out that not all life in Poland revolves around pubs and discos. Out there the centre of social life is the shop — the only one for miles around — sometimes open on split shifts: 6 to 10 in the morning and 6 to 10 in the evening. On the bench outside the locals gather to drink — beer if their alcoholism is not so far advanced; otherwise fortified wine. Out there, away from the roads connecting cities, there are no cheery roadside bars serving pub grub. Nor are there little mom and pop restaurants tucked away in the oddest corners. You are more likely to find the ruins of a collectivised farm and perhaps an accompanying four-storey block of flats, incongruous in the rural surroundings. It’s not quaint. So people sit and drink outside the shop. “What do you do with yourself?” a friend asked two of them at one stopover in the scorching heat. The one who could talk said “I sleep a bit, I drink a bit.” The other felt his unshaven jaw with his invalidity pension-winning thumb-stump as if wondering who it belonged to. This is the Poland not so much left behind as ignored altogether. “What do you think of the politicians?” The depressed countryside is prime vote-harvesting land for Andrzej Lepper’s Samoobrona, the farmers’ party, target of much urban derision. “Thieves.” Even the one who couldn’t talk for fear his lower jaw might fall off if opened for any purpose other than to pour alcohol into his mouth joined in on that chorus. “And Andrzej Lepper?” “A madman.”

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