Saturday 9 April 2022

Diem is carped

Excellent news! Work has permitted me a four-week sabbatical (unpaid) to study Polish this summer. I shall be in Lublin for three weeks and in darkest Silesia for one. After five years and bouts of repetitive stress injuries, I definitely need a long, almost-UK length, holiday from reading, writing, and editing news and political opinions. 

I envision long, warm mornings of grammar, followed by prolonged lunches featuring soup and schnitzel, then two-hour bouts of Polish conversation practise, followed by long walks hither and thither, and reading in the evenings. 

Suddenly I am reminded of my six-week stint in Germany, long ago, and the disappointment of being in a class with people who are there only because work told them they had to be or because (really) they were trophies plucked from the beaches of the Dominican Republic by much-older Germans of the opposite sex. Although these people were certainly interesting, they didn't do their homework and dragged down the rest of the class, as it were. And the lingua franca of the break room was, alas, English.  

Therefore, I shall strive with might and main over the next 15 weeks to imprint upon my stubborn brain and tongue the abilities needed to get into an advanced course with the keeners and Slavic-language native speakers. 

My ultimate goal is to write and read Polish with much less recourse to dictionaries, to understand whatever is said to me at once, and to respond without needing to think or saying "Co to znaczy po polsku...?" (What is the Polish for...).  

And naturally I would like to be able to speak to my Polish god-daughter, read her stories, and get her used to the whole Foreign and Anglophone Godmother concept in the gentlest way possible.  

I thought I wouldn't be able to do any such course until after I retired, but I thought I would seize the day, and I have been rewarded for it. 

This week I wrote a post in defence of Fr. Michael Rowe, a priest in Australia who cares for the Traditional Latin Mass community of Perth and, when on pilgrimage, of England and/or Scotland, too. 

Did I mention that my Traditional Latin Mass community will not be moving from our little wooden church? Somebody old enough to have known better than to cry out at church blurted "YES!" at the announcement. (Some odd-looking woman with glasses and fuzzy ginger hair sticking through the holes of her lace mantilla.) Otherwise, the reactions were quiet but terribly pleased. 

The decision came from Rome itself, and although, ultimately, it was based on a point of canon law about what-is-a-parish-church, I believed we were saved by our sisters and brother in wheelchairs. It's a wonderfully Chestertonian paradox that the children will be able to run in and out of the church hall in perfect safety, raiding the cookie dishes before running out to do joyous battle in the green, because of two women and one man who cannot walk at all. 2 Corinthians 12, innit?  


  1. Good for you to get the time to get a break and practice your Polish. I'm considering taking classes to learn ASL next school year. It could come in handy if I meet someone deaf or hard of hearing, especially if they need assistance.

    I'm on the autism spectrum and some with the condition are temporarily unable to speak in some situations. My potential kids may be better able to communicate if I can teach them this. I know it's hard, but from what I've been told, the professor at a local community college knows how to make it fun.

    1. That's a great idea! My brother learned it to share with his kids when they were babies and couldn't speak yet. It was both fun and funny.