"The fact that these new Brits are polite and hard-working, do not do crack or firearms, nor are they likely to blow up Tube trains, is a function of the culture they have arrived with. It tells us nothing about what their first and second generation descendents will be like after twenty years exposure to the cultural vacuum of the UK." - Pole To Pole I
Maybe I was too optimistic. At the Social Affairs Unit blog, Jane Kelly compares the Poles she used to teach in the early 80s with the young Poles she meets on the streets of London.
Last week the Polish newspaper Gazeta reported that many Polish children are being dumped by their parents who leave for a job in the UK. Last year 3,000 children under four were abandoned - something unheard of ten years ago for non-handicapped children. According to Gazeta the situation is becoming an "epidemic". Something very strange indeed is happening to the Poles.
I taught English at a Polish university in the early 1980s. My students were in the main amiable, respectful, rather quiet and hard working. A few expressed curiosity about the West, asking me odd things, for instance, if there were really hundreds of millionaires? And were public houses all brothels? But mainly they were so hard pressed by the privations of Communism that they didn't think much beyond helping their mothers by joining the next queue for bread or sausage.
The young Poles I now see in London are entirely different. Talking loudly into mobiles, on my daily bus, they shove to get on and push to get off. The words "excuse me" apparently no longer exists.
There is a popular myth that the new immigrants from the east don't have words for "please", "thank you" or "excuse me" in their own languages. But I know this is not true. When I lived in Poland I used to go round saying "excuse me" a lot as I loved the sound of it, all those gushing P's and rolling R's. And courtesy was a very important thing, they were extremely polite people.