'About Us' - Marysia

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One Sister - Marysia

M and me late 60s or early 70s

Marysia (left) and me - probably 1968 or thereabouts as I'd had my hair shorn (and gone platinum blonde) in Zakopane, Poland that summer

It's a curiosity this photo as I have no recollection of ever having a booth photo taken with my sister in tow. The hair is a giveaway as I had had it made over whilst in Poland on holiday in 1968 at a hairdresser's in Zakopane where I also saw during a thunderstorm the second 'Angélique' film dubbed into Polish with English subtitles!

Her Penmanship

Like myself, Marysia does like to write, but unlike me she won't use computers and hasn't done since she retired! So to start off her literary genius (you've already seen some of it on her home page where she came second in the Spyke Golding Literary award).

2013 - In Praise of English Pubs

(I'm beginning to sense a theme here ......) Note - In all fairness - I believe this was to have been submitted for the Spyke Golding Literary Award, but as a former runner-up in 2012 the entry could not be submitted for another year!

What is is about an English Pub that is so special? - Not such an easy question to answer as you might imagine. You might even ask why is a non-beer drinker writing in praise of English Pubs. I love every single one I have ever visited. Mind you I didn't visit my first pub until I was 20* because in my day it wasn't the 'done thing' for a single girl to be seen in a pub, let alone drinking in one. You may well ask - I am a G&T girl and in the mid-sixties it was a horrendously expensive drink in a pub so you bought a bottle of gin which was not expensive and a bottle of tonic, which was, and asked friends round. Pubs to us girls were definitely "mens" territory.

Such a shame ...

Black Swan Pub SignDirty Duck Pub sign

My website - my rules - here I am having a little fun l to r - the best composed Black Swan pub sign that I could find in the absence of the Stockport version which seems to have ceased to exist and of course who could resist this little 'Duckie' from an an 'out of county' pub as, of course, for Stockport it is likely to have been a 'Robinson's' pub (before I am shouted down by the purists)

However, on the last day of term of our final year at college our whole class went out for a farewell drink to our local pub in Stockport, "The Dirty Duck", or as I discovered on arrival, it was actually called "The Black Swan" - well that was it for me - the humour had me collapsed for days (I had led a sheltered life ...) The jollity inside and the plain, functional décor was just up my street - I could not wait to tell my friends at home in Nottingham what an experience I'd just had.

My next visit to a pub was probably about a year later - you can see I was not what you might call a regular then! It was the "Chequers" in Stapleford - really local this time, where I had been asked for a jazz session by friends from work. This was the start of my love affair with pubs - I had a whale of a time, discovered Cider and an atmosphere which is so British, not easy to describe but one that all of us here in England can easily identify with.

Chequers Pub Sign Ploughman's lunch

l to r - Chequers Inn Sign (now renamed 'The Old Rock') and a 'Ploughman's with a nice British twist (loving that UJ napkin)

In the seventies and eighties it became popular to go to the pub for lunch - that beat any home-made sandwiches or canteen lunches and the word Ploughmans entered into my vocabulary. But I was still not seduced by a glass of beer to go with it. Cider it was and the G&Ts were but a memory - though I still enjoyed the odd one or several with my great-aunt Jadwiga.

I was lucky in that I could spend most of my holidays abroad - on a strict budget. One of my earliest ones was in Switzerland with my sister. We were down to our last few francs and decided to boldly visit a Swiss tavern in Geneva. It had a lovely garden looking out onto the lake and we ordered frankfurters, potato salad and apple juice. Very continental and a great experience but it did not have any atmosphere to speak of.

Over the years I spent many merry hours in great company in taverns all over the globe. Some tried to emulate an "English Pub" ut they lacked the something very basic - also the noise levels were somehow different and the piped music was definitely an intrusion.

The Gladstone PH in Carrington

A little bit of nostalgia - the 'Gladstone Hotel' (as it was) in Carrington, Nottingham was literally around the corner from where we lived or across the road from the rear 'twichell' we used to access our garden from the back - I don't believe either of us ever visited not even since it became so much more 'upmarket'.

So I would return to England and meet up with friends at the local and immediately settle in for a long, comfy session.

It wasn't long before I discovered that going to pubs can be very educational. The obvious educational benefit is learning about the history of the area. Speak to the local pub "historian" sitting in a quiet corner of the pub or propping up the bar and for the price of a pint you can learn so many wonderful facts. The side benefit is obviously making new friends.

Beer mats are a great source of information and fun to collect. I spent a summer in Switzerland at Lausanne University and a fellow student - a charming Swiss lad - asked me if I would send him some English beer mats - which of course I was delighted to do. He sent me lots in exchange, not only Swiss ones but spares which he had from all over the world. TO my knowledge he had never left Switzerland .... our friendship lasted for years.

I have a friend whose husband collects photos and postcards of pub signs - and as photography is a hobby of mine I have photographed dozens of signs for him and in the process have learnt the history behind the names and often obscure facts about the area as well as the history of the Kingdom.

Where else on earth can going down to the pub/tavern be such an educational experience?

I;ve come a very long way since that first visit to the "Dirty Duck" over 45 years ago. I love going to my local pub for lunch - the food is home cooked and quite delicious and no one bats an eyelid that I am sitting there all by myself watching the world go by and thoroughly enjoying the ebb and flow of conversation around me, the laughter and the real sense of belonging. In fact I may as well have become that quaint local historian person sitting quietly in the corner - I try not to prop up the bars! - so amble over and I'll tell you some jolly interesting facts about the area - but don't offer me a pint - nowadays I drink coffee - hot, black and strong and unheard of in the sixties. Cheers!


2003 - Springboard

This is the first time that I have read this particular document (04.11.2020) which my sister wanted to add to her ruminations/literary skills and was surprised on two counts - the first that she had included family members (I'll explain why I would not later) and the comments she made particularly about my husband and to a lesser degree about myself. It's not false modesty, but avidly as we always talk on meeting up, on the phone or by text when there never seems to be enough time to get through everything, with the possible exception of the day after my mother's death we never really discuss personal feelings in-depth. We're not touchy-feely either but I think we would both commit murder if anyone hurt the other. We've disagreed over most things over the years including my re-marriage despite her now having found her 'real knight in shining armour.' (Incidentally, when I showed this to Andrew he went all silly and coy!) So here are her top 10 :

Marysia Springboard thoughtsMarysia Springboard thoughts continued

It's an interesting read, no surprises in the historical area (which is expanded in our family section, especially our mother's recollections of her time in Siberia and her release to Iran and North Africa where she served as a military nurse for the Allies), or even the remote and brevet members of the family; the surprise was that she had included family at all. My personal view is that (and this may sound a bit arrogant and selfish on my part) I was owed and took for granted that family members were there to nurture me and so all family influences were a right and right and proper. Dad was the breadwinner, he paid my pocket money and taught me the value of money and the importance of repaying fiscal debts. He was always up for a bit of chicanery (in cards, which he and I played for money) and definitely up for a reasoned argument for a pocket money 'pay rise.' He failed on occasion on the 'honesty' stakes as I somehow latched on to the concept of 'taking advantage' which I still do although I am nowhere near as competitive as I suspect he would have liked me to be! He also told me not to fear anything so I learned to swim before my sister did and learned to ride a bike not that long after she did. I buggered off and did my own thing as soon as I could, on completing her studies my sister returned home and stayed. Mama, what can one say, she was perfect in every way, there is nothing I can fault in her - she made our home a real home. She cooked, cleaned, did the decorating, educated us and was a first class tailoress! She was always home, she walked me to the bus stop to get to school, she sewed our school uniforms up to grammar school. She encouraged, nurtured, educated us in our heritage and made the most fab-u-lous fancy dress costumes for us every year! She even sewed both of my wedding outfits, the formal one for church in 1980 and the smart suit for my 1994 registry office marriage. She wove wonderful childhood tales and was as open as the countryside's fresh air about her experiences during the war. If I'd had the misfortune to become a mother (which happily I did not) I would have liked to have been like her and any kids of mine to think of me with the respect and love that I accord her. My sister has always been there and has been (according to her) carrying out the mandate that she was given : 'look after your younger sister at all times and at all costs' - sometimes she took this a bit far and that would be the reason for the conflict between us - you see nobody gave me an mandate to 'obey' her! Gotcha! Didn't know Grandad much, but remember the day he died. Didn't know Munek all that well although I was godparent to his two youngest kids Jeremy and his little sister whose name I regret but am not ashamed of having forgotten. He and his wife Betty were always very accommodating when I needed an overnight in London before moving down there. Their kids didn't speak Polish but I hope were at least steeped in their mother's Welsh origins. As for Bibi - yes that man was the life and soul of every occasion and it was a real let-down if he didn't show up at Christmas or Easter. I loved him dearly for the joy he exuded but I don't really remember any advice or opinions he may or may not have given me during my formative years. I do remember his fair isle sleeveless pullovers, over a crisp shirt, peeking out from under a jacket - he had his own style. I don't think he accompanied us to Church either. As you can see (although I strayed into the 'beyond direct family' category) all that I have described above is surely something every child should experience and in my case, as I was the last to join the family 'unit' and therefore complete it, of course they should let me benefit from their experiences of life. It is fitting therefore that I'm writing this piece today, 5th November 2020, which would have been my parents 76th Wedding Anniversary - i couldn't have known I would find the relevant paperwork to spur me into this part of the family memories on this particular date, so once again I have to believe that coincidences are indeed signposts .... where will this one lead to?

So far I have found 7 'influencers' (but not as meant in today's parlance) and how they affected my life can be found here

2002 - White Eagles

In this next reminiscence you're going to discover what it means to her to be Polish! It is fitting that this article appears in a brochure commissioned by Notts County Council to commemorate the contribution made by Polish Pilots as part of the 'Memories for the Millennium' for the 'Nottinghamshire Living History Archive.' Marysia always did have a penchant for the Air Force - me, I loved the Navy (before I realised I suffered from 'mal de mer'!) probably because my favourite comic book featured heroines in the navy and of course ballet!

RAF Newton Polish Badge RAF Hastings Polish Badge

Two commissioned badges for the use of the Polish Air Force Training Corps l to r at RAF Newton (Nottinghamshire) and RAF Hastings (East Sussex) 304 Squadron

RAF Newton was a Royal Air Force station, 7 miles east of Nottingham, England. It was used briefly as a bomber base and then as a flying training school during World War II. Built on the site of a pre-war civil airfield, Newton was assigned to No 1 Group in June 1940, when Nos 103 and 150 squadrons returned from France. These squadrons were re-equipped with Vickers Wellingtons in October 1940 but moved on to more suitable bomber airfields in July 1941.
Newton then became a training base, and for the next five years No. 16 (Polish) Service Flying Training School provided basic and advanced training for Polish airmen serving with the RAF, using RAF Tollerton as a satellite landing ground.

'Docemus et Discimus' - from the Latin 'We teach and we learn' | 'Wysokiego Latania' - Polish for 'Flying high.'

Cover of the Souvenir Millennium BrochureBack cover of Millennium Brochure

Front & Back covers of the White Eagles Brochure commissioned for the Nottinghamshire Living History Archive entitled 'Memories for the Millennium' and described as 'A collection of memories from the Nottinghamshire Polish Air Force Community' and dedicated to 'All the Polish Forces in WWII who fought and died so that Poland would one day be free.'

Page one memoriesPage two memoriesPage three memories

The space is deliberate - Marysia was furious that the uniform had been wrongly described and the sentence should read 'The Polish Girl Guide Uniform colour was grey ....' this publication was published in 2002

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Page updated : 5th November 2020 (G)