Post-Industrial Revolution: Notes

I've been making notes on my phone while I've been in Poland. I thought I'd outline their context, and then just present them without any edits.

Here are a few points to consider while reading the notes:
  1. I've been on a bus for at least two hours everyday.
  2. I've been reading a lot: Metamorphosis by Kafka; The Master and Margarita by Bulgakov; Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami; and currently, The Crossing by Cormac McCarthy.
  3. Poland is very flat and that makes me think about dying a lot. I don't know why.

A story is a promise that this is how it was.

The Pope's big hat.

He is still a hero.

A well as deep as the earth.

Jean-Michel Jarre's relationship with Gdańsk (played 25yr anniversary of strikes, 'Very warm feelings for Gdańsk).

The horses are still there, chewing bark right off the tree.

What do they want from us? The mosquitoes. What can they be doing out there?

Other people's stories are other people's stories.

Non-descript 'American style' pop on the radio. I swear the guy just sang 'dream of vaginas'. I could be wrong.

The dry limitless expanse of capital

A long part of our bus journey is filled with the stink of human waste.

Zdzislaw Marchilewicz swore on the cross.

Videostudio Gdańsk.

Memory not history.

Zbigniew Stefanski - singer/violent extremist

It's so big that everything on it looks abandoned.

An amber chapel stolen by the Nazis.

Bar owner crying on the street after Jan Pawel II died.

God was asleep or dead for the Holocaust

p272. first and only time I remember seeing the word 'good', or any positive description in Kafka's writing.

Apocalyptic though? The head as metaphor for Rome.

Bus to airport: 210

Minimal techno edits of protests.

Comedy: The idea of picking something out and calling it absurd, in a world that is totally absurd is total hubris, and therefore the joke is always about the pointlessness of human endeavour, particularly the endeavour of the comedian. This is a way of turning towards nihilism and welcoming its logical consequences with arms open, flailing.

Film steam coming out of the ground.

Backlit nostalgia.

Two things about my trip back to the U.K
1. My room was totally infested by moths. Unwelcome invaders, eating my clothes.
2. A Polish shop had opened near my house - selling Polish beer, pickled vegetables and sausages. All the other shops in the area are run by people from India and Bangladesh. There was a sort of opening party at the shop, and we went in to have a look.

An overturned lorry in a field by the side of the road. Smashed window. With what we can only presume is the driver standing behind the truck; hands in pockets, looking sheepish. Advert for Oreo cookies on the side of the lorry.

Hotel Gryf: Totally Lynchian. Red carpets. Wide dark corridors.

Hand ball is like a pretend sport, but all the players are pretending to play it as if it is a real sport. Like they've been threatened that someone is closely studying the footage and if they are not playing it with enough conviction then someone will kill their family. but instead of this inspiring total commitment, they all just look scare like they know in their hearts it will never be enough.

There are men who are more like dogs than men.

The slow process of selling cosmetics to men.

Possibly we are the only animal that needs to believe it comprehends the world in order to act within it.

Dogs barking in rhythmic phase, like indicators blinking in a traffic jam.

It would be wonderful to have death carry away all your actions and possessions, useless and flapping in the wind.

Post-Industrial Revolution: Supersam (short story)

I just went down to the Supersam to buy some butter and water and oats and beer and this thing happened so while I wait for the beer to cool down I'll write this. Incidentally my vision feels strange like the world is a screen and green lines appear without my agreement to their appearance.

So on the bus I sat down behind a man with wounds all over his head. Some fresh, some scabbed, some old and scarred and gnarled, some scarred but smooth as though from wounds made before he grew skin.

I stood waiting for the doors to open and let me out to go to the Supersam and as they opened with all the grace of a broken plate I allowed for some old women to demount before myself. They were not old, close up. They were not young but they were not old. One of the women had her face split in two by a deep scar that looked like a chink of time had fallen from her flesh. Like a perfect razor had told her that she no longer owned this particular part of her body that had before seemed so integral.

I stared at her and then looked away, conscious that she was conscious of my staring. Why this bothered my I don't now. But there it is, I stopped looking and then I got off the bus.

I did my shopping at the Supersam, slowly and steadily, but always with one eye on the time because the bus finishes its journey a few stops from the Supersam and loops back around like a cow and drives back the other way so that if one is careful, as I was, with the time, one can gather one's shopping and say thank you in a broken language that no one really understands, and certainly no one likes to hear, and arrive at the bus stop in time to get back on the bus the other way.

And on that return bus the woman with the scar was, but I don't know how, for she had gotten down before me, after which I had gotten down, at the Supersam. Me, to do my shopping, and her to go to where I did not know and did not presume to guess at, being a stranger in this place.

And when I sat down, facing her across the bus, she looked at me with eyes that said 'do not look away now'. Eyes that urged me to examine her more closely and I did, because to not do so would be rude, and in this place rudeness is a serious thing. So I followed the clean line of the scar up to her hairline and saw that it carried on over and across her head and as she saw me following the scar up on her head, she tilted her head down so I could follow the scar that cut through her hair, parting it at an unfamiliar angle and then she started to spin around so I could follow it down the back of her head and neck and she lowered her pastel and dirt coloured coat down her back so I could follow the perfect scar to where it ended just next to the edge of her shoulder blade.

She pulled her coat back up around her shoulders and turned around so she faced forward in her seat once again and nodded at me and looked out of the window. I looked around the bus and the other people who had seen what had happened were pretending to look out of the window and I could not say now if they were really pretending or were just looking out of the window.

It is known that I am foreign to this place, and so perhaps I thought, as I got down from the bus and arranged my shopping in my hands, it is that everyone stares at her the first time around and she has developed a way of helping those who stare and in a way it is quite beautiful but in another way it makes me hate this place all the more.

Post-Industrial Revolution: The History Process

I've been thinking for a long time about how an event becomes part of history. I think it was probably inspired by a blog called 'The Awkward Interval' by Momus on his Click Opera blog a few years ago.

In that blog Momus talks about how in fashion/style/music/art, we mine the past, looking for objects and ideas to re-invigorate in the present. The recent past becomes an 'anxious interval', a place that has lost its novelty value but is not yet old enough to be retro. Here is the excellent diagram Momus created to illustrate his idea.

Ironically it was made in 2009, so the references are a bit out of date, i.e. the 80s (illustrated by Buggles in 'the goldmine' era) aren't the height of retro fashion anymore.

I'd like to push this idea a bit further, in order to think of this time line as a process of effecting paradigm shifts, as well as controlling trends.

Let's use the sections of Momus' diagram to track the history process of the 1980 Solidarność strike

The Present

When the strike was happening, it was important as an event with an undecided outcome. No one could know whether they would be successful, and no one knew what their possible success might eventually lead to. Apart from the Communist government (and perhaps a few strike leaders jostling for future positions of power), no one was thinking about the way the strike would be perceived as a historical event.

The Anxious Interval

After the fall of Communism, Solidarność doesn't just disappear, many of its big players make the move into politics. The most famous of these is Lech Wałęsa, President of Poland from 1990-1995. The scramble to turn Poland into a market economy involves privatising, and then shutting down the very shipyards from which Wałęsa came. A lot of people feel betrayed by the outcome of the events, and the success of the strike suddenly means something very different.

The Battleground

After Wałęsa goes, there comes the time when people are jostling over who owns the history of the strikes. Most people involved in politics at this time were somehow involved with Solidarność and the meaning of the strikes becomes a battleground - used to justify different ideas by different people.

The Goldmine

The beginning of the goldmine is probably Poland's full membership of the EU in 2004. It is a sort of vindication for all the pain of the switch over to a market economy. A European centre for Solidarity is established (currently building a huge new headquarters next door to the shipyard). 2005 is the date of a paper I have read about the 'Young City'. The Young city is the name of the proposed cultural regeneration of the shipyards. In the paper, the hypothetical future of the area is laid out - full of bustling consumer zones, cultural quarters and pedestrianized boulevards. It has, at the time of the paper's writing and (I think) the time of this blog's writing, no confirmed investors.

The Anxious Echo

I'd say that Poland may well be coming towards the end of the goldmine era. Having spent only three weeks here, I already feel totally overwhelmed by the volume of strike history. And not only by official history and plans for the city that reference the strike's history, but also by critical engagement with the strikes. I mean this in no bad way (as I'm involved in exactly the process I'm describing...) but Wyspa has exhibited a lot of work about the shipyards and the history of the strikes. It feels critiqued out. The more I talk to people about it, the more I realise that the history is saturated, it can't be used to support any more plans - political, economic or artistic.

The Historical Past

This hasn't happened to the strikes yet (if that makes sense...). It's a quieter place, and I'm not sure when the strikes will become part of it. Unlike the other eras, slipping into the historical past might be a slower process, and different people might find that it happens at different times for them. Talking about the strikes will become less contentious, and less relevant - because to talk about the strikes will not be a way of talking about the present.

Post-Industrial Revolution: Gay Skinheads

Last night I was thinking about the links between nationalism and homophobia.

It seems to me that national identity is hard to define. The matter of who gets to (wants to?) call themselves English is debatable. Is race relevant? What about heritage? Or self-perception versus the perception of others? National identity is a relative state. It is hard to demonstrate your Englishness without simplifying it.

Sexuality too is hard to demonstrate. Outside of actively demonstrating sexual preference, there isn't really much to differentiate, say, a gay man from a straight man. The only way to display straightness is through anti-queerness (queer here as understood in terms of the re-appropriated term for non-hetrosexual), which is nothing to do with sexual preference really, it's more like an aggressive social conservatism.

Maybe people who are desperate to demonstrate their national identity through race, are also desperate to demonstrate their straightness through acting as non-queer. A fear of being understood as different spirals out into prejudice and anger at those who display difference.

A lot of the far right comment boards are full of accusations of other people being gay. I found a brilliantly vitriolic story about Martin Webster performing oral sex on Patrick Harrington (of the Solidarity trade union) in the 1980s.

Here is Martin Webster (joint head of the NF in the 80s) talking about his 'bit on the side' relationship with Nick Griffin. This almost turns my theory on its head, almost.

And here is Nicky Crane (security guard for the band Skrewdriver) talking about gay skinhead sexuality. He came out in 1992, after 20 years as a violent neo-nazi, before dying from an AIDS-related illness in 1993.

And here is Sacha Baron Cohen's character - the Austrian television presenter and homosexual caricature Brüno - visiting 'Evil Fest' and chatting to some skinheads.

Apart from the guy Sieg Heiling after he has observed that Brüno has a 'bender's moustache', I end up feeling sorry for the skinheads, made to look foolish because they have no room to manoeuvre within their idea of correct sexuality.

And here is a sad, strange video called 'JOIN THE GAY BNP'

Below it on the youtube page was a comment from 'Merseynational'.

Which is interesting because in one way it endorses a liberal, Third Way style of 'lifestyle choice' politics, where nationalism and homosexuality are just personal choices, and simultaneously jumps right into the paranoid fantasy that every anti-fascist statement is somehow linked to the UAF which the BNP consistently claims to be funded by MI5.

Post-Industrial Revolution: FUCK

Today is not a good day. My video editing program has packed up so I'm desperately fannying around on the internet in an attempt to fix it.

While I download another useless driver, why don't you look at these videos?

This is nick Griffin having eggs thrown at him.

And this is Bob Bailey getting a kicking.

Post-industrial Revolution: html

As part of my research for a video I'm making about a nationalist trade union in the UK called Solidarity, I'm spending a lot of time in the far flung corners of the internet, looking at far right websites.

They are almost universally badly designed. I suppose the 'best' is probably the British National Party's site.

They have definitely had a brand make over and the website pushes this new, friendly BNP. The stories on the front page are fairly mainstream (for a right wing organisation) and the imagery is homely and comforting. Their logo appears to be a combination of a heart, a British flag, and a scratch-card.

At the bottom right of the page you can see an advert for their online shop, Excalibur.

Here you see the populist sheen slips a bit. Along with the England flags and BNP t-shirts, you have an 'ASYLUM: Don't Unpack, You're Going Back' flag, and a book called,'The Lie of Apartheid and other true stories from Southern Africa'.

The Excalibur logo is pretty classic far right stuff. The implication being that real British people are all descended from King Arthur and wield swords.

This is Solidarity's site. Even though most of their funding comes directly from the BNP, and in their official accounts they put over £1000 a year on 'maintaining' the website, it looks like shit.

The National Front's website looks like it was designed in 1996. All it's missing are a few animated gifs. You can't see in this picture, but all the images are pixelated and there is scrolling text across the top of the page. Someone has definitely got a cracked copy of Photoshop by the look of that gradient on the main logo.

At this point I think the design actually adds to the desired effect for a group like Combat 18/Blood and Honour. I'm scared shitless already, just because of the layout of the page. Also, they have a quote by Ian Stuart Donaldson (former Skrewdriver frontman who died in a car crash in 1993), but they've spelt his name wrong.

This is Blood and Honour Serbia. If that strangely off-centred web page doesn't scare you then I don't know what will.

Maybe this photo of some Blood and Honour Serbia members.

This says 'Kosovo is Serbia' 'Serbia for the Serbs'.

And this is the British People's Party. It has a similar design to the National Front page. Not quite as 'fancy', but it gets straight to the point,  

We represent the interests of the ultra Nationalists of Great Britain

 Right then.

There is another interesting quote from this page,

With the advent of "Populism" into the edges of the mainstream of British politics, there are many of us who refuse to compromise our principles and strategy.

This is a direct reference to the attempt by Nick Griffin and others in the BNP to break into the mainstream of British politics. I presume that the British People's Party is annoyed that Griffin has had to keep quiet on relevant, contemporary issues like Holocaust denial and the Zionist conspiracy.

Almost all the websites I've visited manage to insult another right wing organisation, there is an incredible amount of in-fighting and denouncing. It is a bit like being a communist - on all the message boards people are constantly accusing each other of being 'wreckers', which is a term for a saboteur that was used a lot in the Soviet Great Terror.

Political Soldier is the NF splinter group that Nick Griffin and Patrick Harrington started in the 80s. Harrington left the group after falling out with the other members and now runs the nationalist trade union Solidarity. Nick Griffin joined the BNP and eventually became its leader. He is seen as a moderniser, attempting to make the party popular through moderating its more extreme tendencies.

You can see three questions on the front page of the site. 'Come here to be informed?' above a link which takes you to the main site. 'Come here to shop?', above the link to their online store, and 'Just come here to complain?'. When you click that you get taken to

Post-industrial Revolution: See You Soon

I'm not here today. I'm in Sopot, a seaside town just north of Gdańsk.

I expect that as you're reading this I will be eating a massive ice cream, like this one. I think it might be a sign of a decadent capitalist society to be advertising ice creams like these (the ice cream:cone ratio in the real ice cream really is this disproportionate) but I'm going to eat it all in my face.

Then maybe I'll buy a cool hat, to protect me from the sun. Perhaps a hat like this '@ Hat'. Practical and ICT aware.

Then perhaps, former Pope Jan Paweł II (R.I.P) and myself will take part in some fun times down on the seafront.

Hey Jan, where's my hat!

Then I might come back to Gdańsk and sample the nightlife. Hey look, Bez, off of the Happy Mondays is playing.

Happy New Year Bez!

But then I'll see this graffito and I'll know the truth. Art is a lie. And I'm a liar.

Post-industrial Revolution: The Third

Tony Blair and Bill Clinton were both advocates of the Third Way, a political position that tries to reconcile right and left wing politics, and sees itself as beyond both. In the case of Clinton's Presidency and Blair's time as Prime Minister, this manifested itself as attempting to mix a liberal approach to capitalism with a progressive social policy.

Nick Griffin (seen in the photo on a National Front march) and Patrick Harrington (far right [of photo, and politics]) helped split the National Front in the 1980s with their creation of the Political Soldier group, which advocated the Third Position. The Third Position is a political concept that sees itself as beyond left and right wing politics, insisting on its opposition to both Communism and Capitalism.

This is a Buddhist swastika, a symbol of good fortune. Buddhism says that there are Three Marks of Existence. The third mark of existence is Anatta, or, Not-Self. Buddhism rejects the statements, 'I have a self' and 'I have no self' as statements that bind us to suffering. Buddhism sees itself as being beyond ontological commitments - beyond naive realism and beyond nihilism.

This is a weird drawing of Friedrich Nietzsche. Nietzsche studied Buddhism, and at first saw it as a reasonable alternative to Christianity. However, he ultimately rejected it as a passive form of Nihilism. Its attempt to deny ontological commitments was, for Nietzsche, just another way for humans to distract themselves from the harsh reality of acting as a free individual in the world.

Post-industrial Revolution: His body hit the ground so hard it began to hum

I've been reading The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov.

It has a pretty fascinating history. Bulgakov was a Russian writer working in the 1920s and 1930s. He wrote various plays and books that were refused publication or damned by Soviet critics - even his play glorifying Stalin's early revolutionary activity never made it past the censors.

The Master and Margarita is about Satan appearing in Moscow during a time of state imposed atheism. It weaves together this contemporary satire (skewering Soviet bureaucracy, hypocrisy and ideology) with a thoroughly researched - though historically speculative - tale of Pontius Pilate in the days before and after the execution of Jesus (called throughout the book by his correct title of Yeshua Ha-Nozri).

Bulgakov worked on the novel for twelve years, from 1928 right up until his death in 1940. At one point, he had to re-write the novel from memory. He had burned the first draft because he was so scared of being uncovered as an 'anti-revolutinary' by the authorities. A burned manuscript features in the storyline - one that haunts the character of 'The Master', and finally, sets him free. "Manuscripts don't burn" is a famous quotation from the novel.

No one dared publish it until 1966 - and even then it was heavily censored. The first full length version - assembled from the censored version along with secretly published notes and additions - was printed by a samizdat publishing house called Posev, and a complete version wasn't published until 1973.

One of Woland's (Woland is the name of the devil in the book - taken from Goethe's Faust) associates is a giant black cat called Behemoth. He is a central character, and pretty easy to describe in visual terms. Hence all the pictures of black cats on the various versions of the book.

It is a clever way of criticising the government - though not clever enough to have ever been published while he was alive. The Moscow storyline works as an allegory for the life of Jesus, and all the condemnation of a totalitarian society, where people are 'disappeared' on the whims of powerful men, is displaced to the time of Pontius Pilate.

It is interesting to read a book like this in Poland - one of the most devoutly religious countries in Europe. A country whose shift from Communism to Capitalist Democracy was underpinned by a Catholic trade union (Solidarność - see yesterday's post for more details), and whose politics is still now heavily influenced by the Catholic church.

Before World War II, Poland was pretty diverse with big Jewish, Protestant and Orthodox communities, as well as the majority Catholic population. After the Holocaust and the flight and expulsion of the German and Ukrainian populations, Poland became almost totally ethnically and religiously homogeneous. 88.4% of the population belonged to the Catholic church in 2007.

In The Master and Margarita religious ideas are subversive and signify free thought, much in the same way that Solidarność's Catholicism was once seen as a unifying force against the Communist government in Poland.

Solidarność flaunted religion like a weapon. Here is Lech Wałęsa signing an agreement with the government using a giant Pope pen.

But now, instead of being a force for freedom, the Catholic church stifles debate in Poland. It strongly influences the main parties' social policies, and - as I'm finding out from people in Gdańsk - engages in its own form of censorship when people don't accord it enough respect.

In The Master and Margarita the ideological atheism of Soviet Russia is confronted with the undeniable, physical presence of the Devil (and therefore, the existence of God). In contemporary Poland reading this book takes on a new, strange, dimension. The ideological domination of the church in everyday life and political decision making is undeniable, and appears to be a corrupting element, but the history of democracy in Poland is tied up with Catholicism, and most people in the country are Catholic.

The question is how I can start to unpick it and understand its influence without reducing it to the simplistic religion=bad form of so much left wing thought.

Post-industrial Revolution: SOLIDARNOŚĆ

The main bulk of my research in Poland concerns a British trade union called Solidarity. This is their logo.

And the reason I'm researching a British trade union while I'm in Gdańsk is because Solidarność (which means Solidarity in English) is a Polish trade union which has its origins in the city. This is their logo, which inspired Solidarity UK's logo.

Solidarność are famous here for their strikes in 1980 which allowed independent trade unions (i.e. not the state controlled, Communist union) to operate. Well, for a few months at least, before martial law was introduced in 1981.

Eventually, in 1989 when the political situation changed, concessions were made by the Communist ruling party and limited elections were held. With Solidarność backed candidates taking almost all of the available seats, the Communist party realised that they had no mandate to govern. The first presidential elections were held in 1990 and the leader of Solidarność, Lech Wałęsa became president.

Wałęsa wasn't a terribly successful President, he was a symbol of the turbulent struggle of the 80s where oppositional politics was simple and unified. The move to a free market was economically difficult for Poland and he lasted for one term. After he lost the 1995 elections, he went into "political retirement" and apart from an unsuccessful run in the 2000 Presidential elections (he scored 1% of the vote) his role in politics has been increasingly marginal.

He finally left Solidarność in 2006, because Solidarność had supported the right wing 'Law and Justice' party in the 2005 elections. Law and Justice were the Euro-sceptic (and homophobic...) party that the Conservatives cosied up to in the European parliament a few years ago.

As far as I can tell, it wasn't the social conservatism of Law and Justice to which Wałęsa objected, rather it was just another feud in the long history of splits and arguments within the union.

More recently he was accused of having worked with the secret police in the 1970s. His codename was Agent Bolek, which is also the name of a cartoon character from around that time.

Post-Industrial Revolution: WESTERPLATTE

Over the weekend we went to Westerplatte, a peninsula north of Gdańsk. It is famous for its part in the beginning of the Second World War. The Battle of Westerplatte, which pitched a German battleship and 3500 Soldiers against 180 Polish Soldiers has attained mythological status in Polish history.

This is a sandstone monument, erected on Westerplatte in the 50s (I honestly can't find a precise date, Polish Google isn't playing ball today) dedicated to those who died to the battle. To me it looks like a totemic face, but actually what look like eyes are soldiers, and the nose is where their guns meet.

You can't quite see it in this picture, but the writing on the monument is made from this specific font that seems to appear on all Polish monuments - or at least all the monuments from the Communist era.

Here is a sandstone monument to Joseph Conrad (born Józef Teodor Konrad Korzeniowski) in Gdynia (where he was born) in the same style, on the back is the same blocky font.

Roma said that Joseph Conrad was her hero because he was a famous European writer who came from Poland, and he was very famous in Britain. Marta asked whether he wrote in Polish or English, and when Roma said that he wrote in English Marta said he was a traitor.

Here is another sculpture from Westerplatte. It is a text piece and it says 'No More War' in Polish. It seems a little hopeful as a statement, but then again the change over from Communism to Democracy was famously bloodless here, so in a way I suppose you could say it was right.

Post-Industrial Revolution: KREDYT

This guy is haunting my dreams at the moment. He advertises cheap credit for the WBK bank in Poland.

There is something a bit pre-recession U.K about these images.

He is literally giving money away.

Here is a youtube video of the TV advert. Same idea as all the credit adverts you see: buy now, pay later, enjoy a new big screen TV, a holiday, sexy ladies and money raining from the ceiling.

While I was looking for these, I found a few adverts made by Danny DeVito advertising the opportunity to win a million Zloty with the bank.

And a John Cleese advert for a loan, which is surprisingly funny considering how often he offers himself up to advertising 'opportunities'.

Poland didn't suffer as part of the global recession of 2008. It was the only member of the EU that didn't have a decline in GDP.

The reasons for the recession are complex, as are the different effects in different countries. For the UK, the collapse the sub-prime mortgage market in America started a credit scare which pushed interest rates up on loans and credit cards, which in turn, hit individuals who had taken out money when credit was cheap and could not afford to pay it off at a higher rate.

Poland is an economy on the rise - you see it everywhere in Gdańsk, clean streets and shiny malls, building work everywhere, a bid for the Capital of Culture 2016. For me, all I can think about when I see adverts like the ones above are pre-2008 economies based on a credit bubble - like the UK's, or a property bubble - like Ireland's.

It doesn't bode well that they've chosen an actor who looks like a 70s pimp.

Post-Industrial Revolution: John Paul/Jan Paweł/Karol Jozef Wojtyla

The last pope, John Paul II (or Jan Paweł) was born in Poland. John isn't his original name though, he was actually called Karol Jozef Wojtyla.

He is everywhere - his face is all over the churches and on every object in all the little gift shops (pens, candles, badly photoshopped pictures of Jan with dove/dolphin/eagle)

He is all over this gate to the Gdańsk shipyards. Actually, this isn't just any gate, it is the famous Gate Two, which was where the civilian population came to support the striking shipworkers in the industrial actions of the 1980s. Interesting to note a Black Madonna image on the left of the gate as well - an unexplained phenomenon in Christian iconography.

I think this particular instance of Jan Paweł's image is to do with his recent beatification by the Catholic church.

Solidarność was/is a union strongly based in the Catholic faith. Jan Paweł visited Poland a few times in the 80s and spoke in veiled language, supporting the union's actions.

A few days ago I asked Roma whether part of Solidarnoś's campaign in the 80s was for freedom of religion, and she said no, it was for freedom of Catholicism.


Coming from a comparatively secular country like the UK, it is surprising how deeply religion permeates Poland. Everyone gets confirmed whether they are Catholic or not. Most kids just do it so that they fit in at school.

In Puck we visited a church and it was full of Byzantine style iconography - painted sculptures and all seeing eyes. I wasn't able to get any photos because I felt bad snapping away while people were praying inside (that was another thing - I've never visited a church where people were actually praying as I walked in).

Here are some shots from the entrance hall.

They've really gone in for the man of sorrows thing here, with JC all sad and bleeding, and yet his pose isn't quite right. Maybe he has a headache, or he has forgotten his keys.