• Max Polanski
Location:
Aberdeen
Date:
Saturday 29th November 2008
Reference:
SWI2008/015

Simon:

What work were you doing in Poland before you came over here?

     

Max:

I was teacher in Poland before. Five years I have been a teacher. Before teacher I’ve been a postman, and before I was a student.

Simon:

And what made you decide to come?

     

Max:

Why I decided? Because we look for better life in rich, strong country. It’s paradise! I’ve been a teacher, my wife’s been a teacher, and teaching in Poland is not good for money. There’s times when we don’t have money for a normal life and it was ... Our decision was correct decision, I know now.

Simon:

And were you specifically interested in Scotland or was that just coincidence?

     

Max:

Scotland, because I don’t like English people! (laughs) English are very posh people. Scottish ... I watched Braveheart and I know Scotland ... I’m joking. I don’t know why Scotland because all of what I heard in Poland, everyone told me: “I’m going to England, England, England,” and I said: “No, I want to go to a place where there is not too much Polish people,” and I said: “Scotland.” On this day we came up to Aberdeen because Glasgow is too big, Edinburgh is too big. Two hundred thousand people is OK and I think Aberdeen is the place where is ... the easiest place to find a job.

Simon:

Yeah, I think there’s more work here.

     

Max:

Oil industry and a lot of companies. A lot of work is here. My cousin was here before. I spoke with him, told me everything.

Simon:

How did you prepare? You told me before you looked on the Internet and stuff?

     

Max:

Aye! There’s Polish websites, scots.net. Now it’s called emito.net. This website has people that are here and it’s got some chat and forum and something like that, and I give announcement saying I want to come here and somebody answer and give me message saying he’s going as well to same place and now is my friend Martin. And he called me and we spoke together and he wants to go with me. We come over here together and then mobile home, caravan, together and it wasn’t too big preparation. Only I have to find some pounds before I find a job. I didn’t know what’s happening here. I have met as well Marik on the website. He called me from Poland because he wanted to open a Polish school and I’d been a teacher and I said I can teach in the school if you wish, but unfortunately this school never started and I think it will not start.

Simon:

So you didn’t ... Quite a lot of people seem to go through job agencies and things like that but you didn’t do that, you ...

     

Max:

No, I didn’t know what’s happening here. So just in the dark. But it was success.

Simon:

So when you first arrived, what did you do? In your very first days in Aberdeen?

     

Max:

First days? We found, me and my friend, we found a hostel on Queen’s Road. I think it was Queen’s Road? But I think it was on Queen’s Road. Take the room, we have bought a bottle of vodka ... (laughs) and we get drunk. Because it was Saturday. We came over here on Saturday. On Sunday we did the same, exactly the same, in the evening time. The morning time we walked by Union Street. We were by the sea and the beach and evening time we bought another bottle of vodka. Next few days we just look for job and I found a job after two weeks time. I got a flat after two months. In Poland you have to wait for flat ten years maybe and you have to give some money.

Simon:

What were your impressions of Aberdeen?

     

Max:

At first I wasn’t impressed because six o’ clock, five o’ clock in the evening and it started being dark and the buildings all grey. Wasn’t impressed. And a lot of rubbish is on the street. I’m sorry but Scotland is not too clean a country. I thought it would be clean but we came up and: “Oh, it’s like Poland. Everywhere rubbish is! Oh it’s like in Poland everywhere drunk people. It’s a paradise!”

Simon:

So your first job was in a bakery?

     

Max:

Yeah, I have found job in a bakery. I started being a handy man. After two weeks they move me to the back shift and I started work like a baker, and I know how to make softies, bread ...

Simon:

Butteries?

     

Max:

Yes, butteries! I didn’t like but ... I didn’t like making but I know how to make it. So I work there ... I have worked there only one year.

     

Simon:

And were there other Polish or Eastern European people in the bakery or ...?

     

Max:

No. When I started to work there was three Polish people, when I finish it was three Scottish. There was a lot of Polish. Turner’s Bakery is employer who likes Polish people because he doesn’t have to pay a lot of money. This is the reason why Polish people are ... For Polish people it’s easy to find job because they can pay minimum. Employer doesn’t have to give us big money. Maybe not now but one year ago, three years ago, still five pound is more than five złoty. And if somebody is come over here, sure five pounds per hour! Is twenty złoty. In Poland is five złoty per hour, is one pound. I say OK! Not maybe since but I don’t know.

Simon:

What was the atmosphere like?

     

Max:

Very good! Atmosphere was very good. Mr. Chandler is old, very nice for me. Very good surprise when I’m leaving. People were like colleagues from work. A lot of colleagues, a lot of friends. It’s a very nice time but I change job for money. Don’t ask me where I’m working because company policy ... I don’t know if I can. I forgot to ask my boss so I can’t talk about this.

Simon:

Before you got the council house you were staying in the caravan park. What was that like?

     

Max:

It was in Cairnfield Gardens. For me when I was alone it was OK because I didn’t care about it and some things ... I took dirty clothes to city centre and clean in a washing machine, pay £5. It’s OK, but hard time started when my wife came over with our son. It was hard time because we lived there four people, with my son it’s five people. Small caravan was like this room, this way but not ... so it was hard but not too much. In summertime it was OK because that summer was hot summer so we can go outside and quiet, no cars, so our son could play. Night-time you could make barbecue and drink some beer but when summer was finished it was not good. Darkness and cold ... it was hard but things got ... this time they gave us this flat.

Simon:

It’s not a holiday caravan park is it?

     

Max:

No. It’s a permanent caravan park.

Simon:

Were there other Polish families there or were you ...?

     

Max:

We’ve been the first. After us there was probably ... are, probably are some. There was one caravan park beside Tesco and I know that one Polish family is there because when I started making show on the radio they were sending message saying: “Please help us because we are in small caravan, we got four children,” and stuff like this. So was there, I don’t know, maybe council gave them flat.

Simon:

So in getting your council flat, did you approach the council and say to them that you have a family and you need a house?

     

Max:

Yes. They gave us flat across the road on Great Northern Road and we have seen this flat and it’s: “OK we are taking!” but he says we have to wait until March because there still was refurbishment and decorating and we tell the woman: “Oh yeah, we are in caravan park with small children,” and she contact us an hour later and says: “I have for you another flat, if you want you can come and this flat is just now. You can move.” And so they show us this flat and: “OK! Happy!” And it’s good because it’s ground floor. It’s not ... first one was on the second floor, could be problem with neighbours. Little boy he is running and moving things and making big noise.

Simon:

And is this area here good? I’ve heard from some people that housing areas where people get put are quite bad areas? They have problems with the neighbours and ...

     

Max:

We don’t have problems with the neighbours but this area is a dodgy area. It’s ... Last year three people was killed here and there’s a lot of junkies, but this flat and the neighbours in this house, we don’t have problems with them. They’re all very nice here but when there is a lot of Polish people in Aberdeen, Torry, Tillydrone, Mastrick, Woodside and Logie - we can say it’s not safe now at this time. But we applied for house and we put stickers where we don’t want, flats in Tillydrone, Torry, Northfield, Logie. And the worst area from this all which we wanted was Woodside. So it’s difficult to get house in better area. Maybe there is a reason, council wants to keep Polish people together to make better under control. In Pinetree Terrace there are few Polish families, I know maybe two but is much more.

Simon:

Do you like to be in an area where there are other Polish families or does it not matter to you? Would you like to ...?

     

Max:

In that way we are very popular but ... now I don’t care, but at first it’s too much Polish people. It’s a lot of Polish people here but now I don’t care, it’s OK. I’m making a show for Polish people and maybe I change my mind about Polish people. It is said, the worst thing for Polish abroad is to meet other Polish. I don’t know why but probably it’s true. I didn’t have problems with Polish. I didn’t have problems with Scottish. I am happy, a happy man.

     

Simon:

Do you think it makes a difference with the Polish people coming to areas like this, to the areas themselves as a whole? Or do areas where there’s problems have an impact on the Polish families? I’m thinking like young children maybe being exposed to areas where there’s trouble?

     

Max:

Uh, don’t think so. Maybe ... Problems have got Polish people who don’t understand English at all. If somebody understand like me ... I don’t speak good, I am not speaking perfect. I speak like not good grammatic. I don’t have a lot of words, I don’t know a lot of words, but I understand what people are saying to me. So if somebody understanding, he doesn’t have any problems. The problems are when you don’t understand and you are thinking: “Oh, he’s against me. He want to hurt me,” or something. No. One time was a few incidents and Polish boy was hurt and straightaway ‘racism’. It wasn’t racism. If ... it’s happened every time and Polish are fighting between each other... why straightaway the ‘racism’? If Polish people kill Polish people, it’s not racism but if Scottish people kill Polish people, it’s racism. It’s going too far, so it’s not just maybe one man for who this has happened and stopped.

Simon:

At what point did your wife and kid decide to come? Did you set so much time or was it dependant on you getting a job?

     

Max:

It was condition that I have to get a job but was condition as well that they have to come. If I do not find, they have to come as well because it was decided. It was decided it has to happen. Only we had to change the date because they didn’t have passports and they had to wait for passports. It was the only reason why we have to change the date because they should be here 1st July, they arrived 15th July. So they were two weeks late.

Simon:

And did they have any concerns about coming? Was your son in school in Poland or was he too young?

     

Max:

No, too young. He’s four years old so ... He should speak to you, not me, because he’s speaking fluent English. Oh, I don’t understand him sometimes.

Simon:

OK. So how did you come into being a DJ and working at SHMU (Station House Media Unit)?

     

Max:

I started one year ago. The first show was on 21st December last year so that day we have got ... (inaudible) ... I have got one year on the air. I’ve been invited because my wife. My wife have girl from the radio, she asked about some Polish who want to make the show and I say: “I want be on the radio and one of SHMU volunteer.”

Simon:

You hadn’t done radio work before had you?

     

Max:

No, never. I’d thought about I want to do this but I never did. I’ve never done it. I’m happy that I am doing this now.

     

Simon:

Who’s your main audience? Is it just in Aberdeen? I know it’s a local radio.

     

Max:

Local radio for Aberdeen and Polish people ... Well, maybe not Polish. Everybody who understands Polish language can listen to this. I tried making for all people from five years old to a hundred years old. I know I sometimes play songs with strong words and things but I always try to exclude these songs with swearwords but sometimes you don’t know. Somebody send a text: “Please play for me this or this,” and you starting play it and you’re listening: “kurwa!” and things like this so you have to switch off: “Sorry, I can’t play this!”

Simon:

You told me it gets put on the Internet in Poland?

     

Max:

Yes, it’s Polish website: www.szkocja.fm. I know that people listen to this show. My friends listen in Poland. I know ... somebody told me his friends are listening in USA, so everybody’s listening to my show. I am very good player.

Simon:

And does your show ... the fact that there’s people out of Scotland listening to it, do people use it as a way of contacting people in Scotland? Do people send requests for family?

     

Max:

No, I don’t have email request. Only are sending texts to the show. I ask today because it’s the Santa Claus day is coming and somebody can send email and ask for song for family in Poland, from Poland to family here. But I didn’t check it, my email box. Probably it’s nothing. I don’t expect that somebody sent there.

Simon:

And does your program, do you feel it helps create better communication amongst the Polish community in Aberdeen?

     

Max:

I hope so. It’s ... Sometimes I don’t have time, I should but I don’t have time to say something. Like tomorrow is St Andrew’s Day, a big day in Scotland, but in Poland you’ve got a big day as well. It’s different, it’s not national, but we’ve got as well and I had a sheet with what’s happening. Polish people in London, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen and what’s happening where they can go for party. But I didn’t say all this because I had too much speaking shit today. Too much la, la, la, too much, and I did forget about all this. If somebody ask me to announce something, to advertise something, I’m doing this but when I make some preparation for the show I am looking for some news, only for some news. And what’s happening in the UK last week, world, Poland ... If somebody is asking me to advertise something I am doing this. When we are together and Alicja is in the radio as well, she is making some news. She is looking for some gigs and discos and parties, what’s happening at night-time and over the weekend. I don’t have really time as well to find these things because last week I worked three days in the row, twelve thirteen, and twelve hours per day. When I came back to home, to the bed, pint of beer and sleep.

Simon:

I was going to ask you about ... (inaudible) ... but tell me about your Polish punk show.

     

Max:

Polish punk? Ah, it started in January. Not only Polish punk. The name is probably sounding like Ghost Hours or something like this, like punk music. Probably little bit hip hop and metallic, stuff like this. And it’ll be night shows so we can play all the songs with all words, we don’t have to put in ‘beep’ in the songs. Everybody can say everything in the shows. I want to speak in the show both languages. Probably in English it would be only: “I play and the song la, la, la” and in Polish I am making more but I will try to speak both languages. I want to start next Friday but this can’t be happened so I’m waiting for message from the radio that I can. And if I got the permission and I am going to the radio and I am starting make the show.

Simon:

Is punk really big in Poland?

     

Max:

Emm ... It is a lot of punks, a lot of punks. 90s. End of 80s, start of 90s, back again! And half of 90s, hip hop came over to Poland and all the young people started listen to hip hop but punks are there and still is existing. Siekiera, is Polish punk rock band. 1984, the date when they started to play. Really, really strong music and I like it. Now the main vocal boy from Siekiera, he plays for Christian band.

Simon:

What’s it called? Straight-edged punk is it?

     

Max:

Yeah yeah. Catholic punk, Christian punk. He’s got another band. Siekiera doesn’t exist now, he plays for ... (inaudible) ... now it’s Christian punk. And he play for two ... something. It’s strict Christian punk because he’s singing songs from the Bible, words from the Bible so it’s strict. This was OK, Christian punk. I don’t like Christian punk. The main band ... first band in Poland was Brygada Kryzys. It’s like Sex Pistols in the UK. But now the main famous I think is Deserter. They played a lot, a lot, a lot of ... They started in 1980, maybe around that time. So is twenty-eight years. When they started it was named SS20. And what is SS20? It’s a weapon, a Soviet weapon. Special, like it’s to ... Soviet Union wanted put it in Cuba but USA said: “No,” and it was in 70s or 60s when John Kennedy was president. So it was SS20 but government was: “No, you can’t play as SS20!” So they were renamed Deserter.

Simon:

Well yeah, in Britain in the 80s a lot of the punk bands were really political. Was that the case in Poland?

     

Max:

Yeah. It’s against political. Against politicians, singing about politicians, and: “No futures!” of course and singing: “Fuck all the politic!” and: “Anarchy!” and stuff like this.

Simon:

That’s during Soviet times?

     

Max:

Yeah, yeah. It was a lot of songs against Soviet Union, against government. So punk bands had a lot of problems with ... (inaudible) ... I don’t know. Correct word? Deserter for example, they record first longplay in UK because they can’t do this in Poland.

Simon:

Oh, was it like an underground scene as well?

     

Max:

Was underground scene. A lot of special magazines. I don’t have here but I had in Poland the special magazines. Underground scene still exist I think but I don’t have interest as time goes. I’ve got my old bands and ... I didn’t ... 90s was when second time for bands, started play I didn’t like them. I didn’t enjoy them ... (inaudible) ... No, I didn’t like. I prefer old punk rock bands. I know some foreigners for me as well. I listen to The Exploited. I love The Pogues, yeah. They are signing Dirty Old Town. It’s a Celtic song as well because the Celtic supporters are singing Dirty Old Town as well. My son is saying: “Oh Dad, Celtic song, I like it!”

Simon:

How did you come to be a Celtic fan? Was that in Poland or ...?

     

Max:

I haven’t been an extra supporter, like fanatic hooligan, but I always, when Celtic and Rangers played, prefer Celtic. It’s nothing with religion, nothing with political, nothing. I prefer Celtic. Celtic used to play a lot of Polish players. One plays just now, the goalkeeper, the best goalkeeper in the world - Artur Boruc. And that’s it. I prefer Celtic but now I supporter, I am Celtic supporter. I am waiting for Monday because on Monday I’ve ... (inaudible) ... and if I’ve not to pay too much I am to buy Celtic tickets, Hearts-Celtic tickets. Because me and my son, he wants to go to all different games but we have to pay for him £20 for ticket, for me £30 per ticket. But I can buy season tickets, £150 for me and £25 pounds for him. So it’s a big difference. But if I pay too much for ... (inaudible) ... I can’t do this. So this is why I am Celtic supporter. And my friends all are Rangers supporters! They say: “Haaaa!” And I say: “Hey you bastards!” Today they asked me to have some music so I said: “OK, this is special request for Scott and Ryan and the song for you - You’ll Never Walk Alone,” but I play for them Simply The Best by Tina Turner. Well this Simply The Best is the main Rangers song. They thought probably I played for them a Celtic song, it was only a small joke.

Simon:

Do you think Scotland’s your home now?

     

Max:

Yeah. I feel here like at home. I’ve got nice neighbours, nice friends, Scottish friends. I don’t want go back to Poland. I don’t want to go back at all. I don’t think so I could go back for holidays because Poland is rubbish expensive country. I like Poland, I maybe not back yet until somebody can say, but if nothing can be changed I’m not going to be there anymore.

Simon:

Poland’s more expensive since it’s become ...?

     

Max:

Very expensive! I have been last summer, two weeks, I didn’t buy at all too much but I spent over £1,000 in two weeks! So this is expensive country.

Simon:

People have been saying that they’re anticipating a lot of people to go back, like next year, because of the recession here. Do you think that ...?

     

Max:

Oh, still recession here it’s better here than I think Poland. Recession is here ... (inaudible) ... If is recession in Western Europe, to Eastern Europe it makes five four years. For next five, four years it will be finished here and start in Poland again. So it’s not ... The recession is not the reason to come back to Poland.