Date: February 15, 2011
There is a flea market just 15 minutes away from our flat. We have only been twice out of the whole six months, and both of those in the last two weeks. It is a large market, where you may go to buy antiques or brick-a-brak. People sit on plastic sheets in very thin coats. Yesterday it was very cold, and they were all shivering and looked rather dirty and battered.
In the market a lot of the sellers are old women with floral scarves tied around their wrinkled faces. Each one looks about 90 years old, although I’m sure their unkemptness and the cold winters must have added a few years. None of these ladies are very discerning in their display skills. They set their products out on their waterproof blankets as if they were just tipped out of a bag. If you are very lucky you might find one item of interest on each stand.
On our latest and last trip to the market I was determined to buy something to take back with me. I had my Christmas money to spend, so I had more than my usual pocket-money limit. Unfortunately I always seem to be interested in objects that are hard to repair because repairs are no longer made as they used to be. For instance, this might be a typewriter, a gramophone or maybe an old battered Kodak camera. I always examine these things and ask the price (in Polish of course) although I go off the idea when I am told that the price is 100zt (this is roughly £20) or more. For someone of my age a (possibly) broken typewriter for 100zt is a bit too much. And no matter how much assurance you get from the seller, you can never quite be sure.
So, I thought, as this is the last time (apart from every other summer holiday) that I have the means, after buying it, to return it to Brighton (because we have a car here) I should really try to buy something. So, after a lot persuading, as my Mum was completely against the idea, I was allowed to buy a beautiful gramophone, made in Poland in 1969. It cost me 30zt, after some bartering (about £6.50), plus a 2zt record. My Mum was sure that on such a bad quality gramophone I would not be allowed to play my Dad’s records because it may scratch them (quite rightly, I guess, because he has some original Beatles, and lots of punk records, and they are worth a lot). But...
When I got back to the flat I plugged it in and it didn’t work.
Yesterday, I decided to join my Dad on a trip to church, with Stuart our rather late, but very welcome, last guest. He designed my Dad’s books, and once he designed the whole Habitat catalogue, which is really impressive. He is going to design a book we want to make about our trip here. We were going to the church because my Dad is doing a project photographing services from the choir. So, I sat through the 45-minute mass, actually rather enjoying myself, as I have never been to a church service before. I looked around me, watched the people, and watched and listened to the organist, the organ and the single barratone singer, who was standing right next to us. He was splendid, but I’m sure he is not as good as my Grandad.
Then, at the end of the mass, when everyone was leaving, my Dad was talking to the organist and asked him if the organ was very different from the piano, and if you needed to play the piano to be an organist. And then (to my great embarrassment) Dad told him that I was learning to play the piano and was quite good at it. The organist then asked if I wanted to have a try on the organ. And this organ is an incredibly old and beautiful object with black keys and white sharps and flats. It was also in one of the most famous churches in Krakow. Stupidly I refused the offer to play. Then, as we shut the door of the choir, I decided it was a once in a life time opportunity and that I really did want to play, I was just too nervous. So I asked my Dad to ask the organist if it was still possible, and he said it was and started the organ up again especially me. I played it for about five minutes. It was a great instrument just to touch. The acoustics were amazing. Though it sounded slightly weird as the music I was playing was written for piano.
It was a once in a lifetime opportunity and I’m so glad I took it.