Hotel Management.....Why Do I Do This?

03 September 2008

The Tears Of Walesa.

There's a helicopter circling above my head, probably just bringing the 'one who shall be obeyed' for his lunch, or a new sommelier being shipped in from France, or it might be a food parcel for one of our American VIP guests, because they 'just can't get good coffee in Ireland'.

Imagination, your friend, and sucker of time better spent.

We have become a family department. My supervisor, a lovely, feisty, ambitious young lady, married the linen porter, the other supervisor, her sister, was bridesmaid.

The wedding guests included an aunt who works in the back office, two cousins who are waiters, and the funny little guy from the bars who haven't figured that one out yet.

I have noticed this trend with workers from Eastern Europe, there are it seems a lot of hotels with family groups making up the housekeeping departments. It reminds me of London in the 70's and 80's only then the immigrants were Irish.

Quickroute in his superb blog reminded me of a time when most of my colleagues and friends were economic migrants from Ireland, having come to England because they had to, just as many of their grandparents had done years before, mine included.

Being a *bit* younger and maybe not so worldly wise then, I couldn't fully understand the implications of having to leave your home and family, out of necessity, surely there were jobs?

I now know that's why I get a bit twitchy and defensive when I hear comments from Irish people about the 'Poles, taking over the country...' etc, of which I hear many. I find it immensely amusing and satisfying to abuse the abusers, I make my feelings very clear about how I will not tolerate racism of any shape or form, and how I find people who make racist noises the most ignorant and pigshitthick people on earth.

I tell them that I remember signs in B&B windows, that stated 'no blacks, no Irish, no dogs', you couldn't get a job if your name was Murphy unless it was with an Irish construction company, and you couldn't earn enough money to send home because any job you could get was so underpaid it just about fed you, let alone the family back home.
I am occasionally the target of clever dicks who have the privilege of calling themselves Irish born, not 'returning' like my family, I always find these morons the most amusing, as they usually kick off with the old '400 years of oppression' chestnut, Jesus, they don't even know that we English were murdering their children and nicking their land for at least 800 years, didn't they learn anything at school?

The Bride looked fabulous, the Groom looked worried, the vodka flowed, and everyone was so pleased to see a young couple so in love and so happy.

A young couple, who left their families in Poland, and came to Ireland for a better life, not to send all their money home, but to settle here, and raise a family of their own in a country that is very similar to theirs.

A few days prior to the nuptials, the bride-to-be cooked for all the housekeeping staff, she made some pastries, some cakes, and some pretty little sweets. We all celebrated with them and wished them a happy and long marriage, and then the Polish ladies burst into song, singing a very pretty song of obvious significance as it made a few of them cry...leaving myself and another Irish colleague looking at each other with fixed smiles, and humming along like we knew what were doing!

The Bride presented everyone with a slice of a beautifully made cake called 'The Tears Of Walesa' and we presented them both with a very well filled envelope of cash, and a couple of VIP Spa Passes to indulge themselves and wash away the crap they have to work in every day.

The Bride is twenty years my junior, as are a lot of the ladies in my place of work, and I couldn't help but wonder how many of them knew the significance of a name given to a cake.

The older ladies are very familiar with the history of Solidarity, and the strikes, and the protests at Gdansk that were led by Lech Walesa, but they found it quite amazing that I knew too. I followed what happened in Poland very closely at the time, I had great respect for the Solidarity party and watched the reports, open mouthed, at the courage of ordinary men and women who stood up to tyrants and changed the World.

Strange to think that over twenty years later I would be standing in a kitchen in Cork, with fifteen Polish people remembering a man who had a cake named after him

We all have history. One day, the twenty-somethings grandchildren will go back to Poland, to reclaim their heritage, to raise their children in the country they consider home.

Some will be met with ignorance and abuse, and a resentment that their families dared to leave all those years ago, but most, as in this country, will be met with open arms, like long lost friends, and made to feel welcome and safe.

Cead Mille Failte.


Blondefabulous said...

How Beautiful! Me, I got married in Vegas. The ultimate land of make believe! The only heritage I was looking for was to start my own, as our families were not, how shall I put it, supportive of our union. Bah......

Quickroute said...

Thanks for the link Queenie. Hopefully after enough time has passed the new immigrants in Ireland will be more widely accepted. I do worry however that now the Celtic Tiger is more of a puss n´boots there will be more mantras of "taking our jobs" and other such bullsh!t. Time will tell

Anonymous said...

I love this story :) I only hope me own wedding could be so happy! That cake looks de-scrumptious.

Kelley said...

What an amazing story. I was transfixed thinking about the history and how that crap goes on in all countries (I am in Australia). Hopefully we have all raised above that and only hate others for their arsehattery and not their ethnicity.

And I want me some of that cake!

bulletholes said...

Very cool cake!
Is that the Caramel that leeches out of a merigue that is making the tears?
Very nice post..."we aren't just here to learn how to cook"...thats what a Polish Chef told me one time.

Queen Of Clean said...

Blondie...Vegas, we have something in common..the 'brother that speaks to no-one' married there, he thinks his family don't like his wife, the fool.'re right, I just wish we could fast forward and see.

Kate...yours will be fab, where's me invite by the way? You haven't fallen out with me too have you? ;)

Queen Of Clean said... those shoes girl! 'Arsehattery' what a great phrase, I shall use it daily.

Bulletholes...welcome! It's a very cleverly made cake, it wasn't meringue (sp?) but essentially a cheesecake, the tears looked great before it had to travel home in my car, well I couldn't take pics for my blog at the time, they would know I write about them!

English Mum said...

I bloody commented on this post!!! Lovely, lovely story. I'm sure I said something deep and meaningful but I can't remember now. But as 'immigrants' ourself, I find that sort of behaviour despicable. Good for you, girl xx

Anonymous said...

Those fish are mezmerizing.

WanderMom said...

Beautifully written.
I have to admit to being shocked at the stories family and friends told about 'racism' against immigrants in Ireland. With the slumping economy, many immigrants may return home. Personally, I think it's a matter of time before people in Ireland cop on and start accepting their new multi-racial, multi-ethnic reality.
And we'll all be better people for it.