‘Was that language Slavic?’
‘No, Polish. Oh… Slavic… Yes.’
Good start. So then we talked for half an hour, of which around twenty eight minutes was incoming. (I suspect there must be a lot of two-legged donkeys in Poland.) She told me that British people are friendly and helpful, and a lot more patient than Polish people. She did the knowing look. ‘A lot more patient.’
I thought of telling her about something I’d seen on the TV when I was a kid. The compère of a stage show is going through his routine when a workman walks across the stage carrying two broom handles.
‘What are you doing?’ asks the compère.
‘Just showing these two Poles around London.’
I thought it very funny as a kid (and the kid in me still does) but I thought it might come across as a tad offensive in these more enlightened times, so I kept my mouth shut (which wasn’t difficult in the circumstances.) Instead I managed to squeeze in a different little anecdote.
I told her about how my mother had been in the next bed to a Polish woman in the maternity ward when I was born, and how the nurse had given each woman the wrong baby to hold. Both women took umbrage, apparently, but I’ll bet the Polish woman screamed first and loudest.