I noticed something different about today’s Guardian. The front page felt very Polish. It was white and red, like the Polish flag. And had I had my morning coffee, I would have realised instantly that it wasn’t a coincidence. But instead, I needed a few more minutes to notice a very obvious Polish theme running through the paper and its website today.
Poland has become the focal point of this week’s edition of The Guardian’s New Europe mini-series, which over the past three weeks has focused on Germany, France and Spain. This obviously makes me happy. This means that Poland is no longer just a supplier of sexy baristas and enthusiastic plumbers. It’s a country people want to explore and get to know better.
So has Poland succeeded in its attempt to readjust to the new reality, to being part of the European Union? How are the Polish enjoying the New Europe? What should the British know about and maybe even learn from the Poles? This, I hope, The Guardian will show us on its pages over the next few days.
Timothy Garton Ash, who knows Poland inside-out, and who has seen it many times before when it was still a Communist country, writes that Poland is getting to grips with being normal and gives countries like Egypt hope. (Coincidentally, he also mentions the widely-used English words I wrote about in February). You can see modern-day Poland through the eyes of a typical young family from Krakow, read about what life is like for young people in Poland and how the country prepares for Euro 2012.
There’s a great gallery of images from Warsaw by David Levene, there is some Polish business, lots about the Polish culture and Polish food. There is also an article on Polish stereotypes. Are Poles really homophobic?
This week The Guardian will also publish podcasts focusing on Poland and football, and Polish literature; there will be a look at how emigration has changed the face of Poland and how new waves of emigration could continue to do so. Also, something close to my heart, a look at the Free Silesia movement (many Silesian people will declare “Silesian” as their nationality in this year’s census – something I should perhaps write about more soon).
A few years ago I set out to write this blog and tell the world more about Poland than a few old stereotypes. I’m glad that in 2011 a major British newspaper does the same.
Spread the word…