Infamy Infamy, They’ve All Got It In For Me!

Ok, so it’s not quite the storm that Thomas Kohnstamm brewed up with his rather droll expose of the life of a guidebook writer in ‘Do Travel Writers Go To Hell?‘ (I’ll post a review sometime), but – by accident of course – I’ve ruffled a few feathers in the last couple of weeks.

By first brush with controversy was a result of my monthly 2-minute country guide to Poland which I pen for Ryanair Magazine. A fun little piece it mainly involves a few bar and restaurant recommendations for Ryanair’s Polish destinations, however a regular feature of this one page article is the ‘say this, not this’ section where I have to come up with two phrases in Polish. One decent and correct, the other humorously off the mark. As a resolutely monolingual idiot this is by far the trickiest element of the piece which routinely causes me a lot of grief as I badger various Polish friends and spam Facebook for ideas. Anyhow for the month in question I went with a suggestion of a respected English/Polish journalist I know from Krakow who gave me the following. Jestesmy chorem wujow… We are a choir of uncles, and Jestesmy worem chujow… We are a bag of penises. (See here). Except apparently the word chuj is much more rude than the word penis. Now I knew perfectly well it was slang, but having heard it bandied around the streets of Poland by everyone from builders to schoolgirls and even the odd nun (kidding!) I figured how rude can it be??? Well rude enough for a journalist from Radio Zet to throw a wobbly and give Ryanair an earful (article in Gazeta Wyborcza here)… he tried to get in contact with me, but without knowing what it was about I fobbed him off as I was f@cking busy at the time. It proved to be a lucky decision because he was obviously in quite a strop, and I’ve since been told to tone it down by the Deputy Ed. and Editor. Fair enough really… but how was I to know that this in-joke of the saintly Wawel Choir was so dirty!

My second brush with a Polish journalist happened just days later when a lady from Gazeta took exception to me as describing the Hala Ludowa as the world’s ugliest Unesco-listed building. Having escaped an ear-drubbing once I wisely declined the offer to pass on my telephone number and she sent me a couple of narky emails instead full of points I didn’t really agree with… anyhow rather than absolve myself of blame I’ll let you judge for yourselves on this one. I give you Wroclaw’s Centennial Hall.

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