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Thursday, 20 September 2012
the debt owed to the Poles
Cllr Richard Willis of Reading has posted this to mark Battle of Britain Day. He urges remembrance and recognition of the part played by Polish airmen in the RAF during World War II, and he is right to do so. The contribution they made was out of all proportion to their numbers. They had lost their country, and in many cases their families, but they fought bravely, and often recklessly, for the cause. I was a child in west London in the 1950s, and a neighbouring family, with a daughter my brother's age, had a Polish father who had been a fighter pilot and who had married a British woman, as many of them did, and settled in South Ruislip, not far from RAF Northolt where most of the Polish RAF men were posted. Their daughter went on to become rather famous, but that is another story, and not one she would (probably) want me to repeat. My novel has its starting point in those west London streets, among those postwar families who wanted quiet and stability and to raise ordinary families. But most of the men had combat or other war experience which had marked them, and had shown them other lives, and most of the women were looking for glamour in those years of austerity. All of them were part of a changing Britain and a changing world. My story is a tribute to them and the lives they made, but it is also the story of what their daughters' lives became. It is a Kindle book, and you can get it here. You don't need to own a Kindle to read it. Although my life is hard to imagine without mine.
This post is to thank Richard for remembering the Poles.
It is also to encourage readers to visit Poland. I went to Warsaw several years ago when significant other and I were on our mission to visit all the capitals of Europe, and did not like the city much. But this year we went to Gdansk, and were bowled over by the beauty of the place, impressed by the energy and spirit of its inhabitants, and stunned by the beaches and countryside. We are going back next summer for a holiday. Poland is a big country which probably has as much to offer the visitor as anywhere in Europe does. The weather is better than you'd think - the summer is short and hot, the winter longer and colder than in western Europe: the northern coast has a cool maritime climate, and a Baltic summer on the icing-sugar beaches is a great joy. English is quite widely spoken, as so many people have worked in the UK and Ireland and have now gone home again, and the food and drink are excellent. Prices compete very well - our holiday budget was about half what it would have been in France or Italy. Don't order wine in Poland, but everything else is great. I'm a believer.
The third reason for this post is to ask readers if they would prefer my book in print form. It can be done, And in fact probably will be before Christmas.