An influx of Poles

April 10th 2006
 Our little town as been subjected to an influx of Poles just recently. Not poles as in telegraph poles or flag poles or even the poles that nubile young ladies use in the performance of erotic dancing for the amusement of randy businessmen, but Poles as in natives of a large, cold East European country.

The attraction is of course cheap labour for British factory owners, and, for the Poles, the chance to earn a decent living without having their bollocks frozen off.
 We’ve welcomed about a hundred of them thus far and all have been found jobs, a good proportion of them at the local sweet factory, Swizzels/Matlow. Swizzels are of course the manufacturers of the famous ‘Love Hearts’, the sweets that bear mottos such as ‘I Love You’ and ‘Be My Angel’. Or at least they did when they were first introduced. Nowadays along with the original messages they also bear more risqué legends such as ‘Hello Big Boy’ And ‘Lovely Bum’. No doubt with the addition of Poles to the workforce it won’t be long before we see the introduction of a ‘Lick My Pole’ Love Heart.

At least the Poles won’t be opening up restaurants like the Indians and Chinese and Italians, at least not unless the British public suddenly develop a taste for cabbage soup and lard sandwiches.
 I came across my first Pole yesterday. He was half of the two man team at a recently opened hand car wash. I didn’t realise he was a Pole at first, I found out after he and his mate had washed my car and his mate had gone off for change from the ten pound note I’d offered in payment. I didn’t find out immediately, it took about a minute.

“Weather’s bucking up a bit at last,” I said, passing the time of day like you do.
 He just smiled at me. I thought maybe he was a bit shy. Or a bit slow perhaps, brains not being a necessity for the job of car washing.

I tried again. “Not doing too well at the cricket, are we.”
 Nothing. Not even a smile this time. Not a cricket fan then. Or possibly a cricket fan with not much to smile about given the performance of our cricket team.

I tried a third time. “Who’s going to win the Cup this year then?”
 “No spik English,” he said. “Pole.”

What could I say? The only word I know in Polish is Polish and I’m not at all sure that Polish is Polish in Poland, it could be Polszkygnkzch or some other such name with a dearth of vowels and lots of k’s and z’s.
  I thought about and finally said: “Me no spik Polish. English.”
 He smiled and offered his hand. I shook it. Contact had been made. For some reason it made me happy. I must be getting soft in my old age.

Television interview

April 9th 2006 While I’ve been away I did the television interview about my part in Les Dawson’s Cissie and Ada characters. The interview took place in the studios of Princess North in the centre of Manchester. They were interviewing different contributors all day and my slot was from 12 noon to 1 pm. I was between two women, which was the first time I’ve been between two women since Butlin’s Skegness in my early twenties. Happy days.
I briefly saw both of the women in question, the first when the woman was coming out of the recording studio as I was waiting to go in, the second when I was coming out as the woman was waiting to go in. The first was Sally Lindsay, who plays Shelley in Coronation Street, who was there to talk about her friend, the comedian Peter Kay. The second wasn’t a woman at all, but a man. At first I though it was Paul O’Grady in his Lily Savage persona. However it turned out to be a man who made his living as a Lily Savage look-alike. So he was a man impersonating a woman impersonating a man impersonating a woman. Weird, in more ways than one. I was glad to see the back of him. (I bet he’d have been glad to see the back of me too but I didn’t give him the chance)

My interview went very well. I thought I might dry up but I was fine. Just before the filming started a make-up girl dashed forward to apply powder to my face and I felt quite the star.

The interviewer started by asking me questions about Cissie and Ada where the idea came from, how did I get my inspiration, what were my favourite bits etc. Later I got to talk about Les Dawson and took the opportunity to relate my favourite Les anecdote. I will remember it till my dying day and it sums up Les exactly.

We were at the bar in the BBC Club during the short period between final dress rehearsal and the recording of the show, Les, me, and the show’s producer Peter Whitmore, who was hovering nervously in the background. Les had already downed three double scotches and now ordered a fourth. Peter, getting increasingly worried by his star’s alcohol intake, stopped hovering, stepped forward and said: “Les, don’t you think you’ve had enough?” Les turned to him and, in a voice which would have done credit to a great Shakespeare tragedian, said; “I can’t go on alone.” Priceless.