Polska Dotty 2: Polski Sklep, Polish Plumbers, and Other Tales of Poles in the UK
By Jonathan Lipman
CreateSpace Independent Publishing, 2016, 152 pp.
Immigrants and refugees are frequently in the news these days, but a rather large immigration took place almost twenty-years ago in Europe without much U.S. press coverage.
After Poland joined the European Union in 2004, its citizens were immediately able to migrate to other EU nations. Thus began an exodus of 1 million Poles to the UK. Britain offered much better employment opportunities than what was available in Poland at the time, which was still recovering from 44 years of Soviet-communist domination and economic debilitation. The influx of Polish immigrants greatly concerned a large segment of UK citizens, which eventually contributed to “Brexit,” the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union in 2020.
In this book, published in 2016, Jonathan Lipman, examines how the Polish immigrants fared in Britain. I thoroughly enjoyed Lipman’s previous book about his 1997-1999 sojourn in Poland with his Polish wife (see here for my review). Lipman subsequently returned to the UK and in this flip-flop sequel, recorded his observations of Polish emigres in his homeland. There was a clash of cultures as would be expected.
Lipman’s insights are interesting and often humorous. The Polish immigrants struggled a bit with the English language and culture as might be expected, but did surprisingly well in general. They set up their Polish enclaves with their skleps, delis/stores selling foods and dry goods imported from Poland. Many of the immigrants sent money back to their families back in Poland. With Brexit and Poland’s steady economic advances, the population of Polish nationals in the UK has dropped from 1 million to 700,000.
As Lipman notes, Poles are very hard-working (a quality shaped by the previous harsh economic conditions in Poland), but will often speak their minds with very little filter in contrast to the polite Brits. From my own experience, there was a group of Polish women working in my department at Kodak – Bronis, Ewa, and Anna – who constantly aggravated their co-workers with their blunt and forthright comments. At one point, Kodak management even discussed sending the Polish gals to an interpersonal communication skills training class. Can anyone spell “lawsuit”? I know from my experiences with my ex-daughter-in-law and her family that Germans can also speak quite bluntly compared to Anglos.
Polska Dotty 2 was an entertaining book that I enjoyed. There’s lots of wry-dry British humor throughout. Lipman dwells on some personal experiences with Polish contractors in order to typify the Polish worker (industrious, but not always attentive to details), that becomes a bit tedious at times. However, like its predecessor, Polska Dotty 1, this book is of surprisingly good quality (including a very good transcription to Kindle) in light of the fact that it’s independently published.