Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Of "Solidarnosc Solidarnosc"

I attended a seminar last night delivered by my friend and  Derry Solicitor Mark Reid. I got talking to the head of the Polish Association who asked me if I had ever been to Poland. This set me off thinking about the many times I had been there and the great adventures I had had in the 1980s.
By the time of my second visit I was running banned materials from the Polish Government in exile in London both into and out of Poland. 1n 1984 I attended a rally in Gdansk headed by none other than Lech Walensa and I joined the multitude of people who held up two finders and chanted "Solidarnosc, Solidarnosc! It was revolutionary stuff and really exciting.
But it was close to the wire stuff. On one occasion at Warsaw airport I was given several sensitive documents to take to London. At passport control, to my horror, I could see ahead to customs that everyone's luggage was being searched in minute detail. I had to think quickly. The guy at passport control asked me a question in broken English and I told him I couldn't understand what he was saying. He tried again and I gave him a blank look. I called for a translator which introduced a delay of about 10 minutes. When he arrived I tried to be as awkward and as slow as possible delaying matters by another 10 minutes. The plan was to be late for my plane and it worked. The translator escorted me to customs and instructed the customs officer to let me straight through. I ran up the top of the steps to the plane and gave the Solidarnosc salute to my friends on the balcony of the airport. The translator (who I think may have been a member of the security forces) shouted at me to be watch myself. I turned directly to him and gave him the same salute before rushing onto the British Airways plane hoping he didn't follow.

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