This wonderful, filthy city, that I have had the pleasure of calling home for the last year or so, reminds me of my home country of Warsaw in a lot of ways.
The Summer months bring the best out in the people here.
When the sun comes out and the days grow longer – the people of London shed their fur lined jackets and their inhibitions along with it.
When I first arrived here in the United Kingdom, London was in the midst of a hazy Summer and the 8 million or so people living there were busy revelling in the warmth and glow of a golden July. My colleagues and I had arrived at the start of the month – we’d been given a sizeable grant from the Poland Arts Council to explore the rise of Nationalism in the UK. The political movement that had always had a vague presence in our home country, but seemed to be having quite the resurgence of late.
The money that we had been given, as a lump sum might I add, totalled a grand sum – far more than I had ever been afforded in a Creative capacity before. Thousands of pounds had been transferred to my account, enough to cover the living expenses and professional costs of four media professionals, with the proviso that we would return in a year’s time with hard-hitting documentary that would expose the truth of Nationalism beyond our borders.
Well, a year has been and gone – and I doubt the Art’s Council of Poland are very pleased with me.
I suppose a great deal of the responsibility lies on my shoulder. I was, after all, in charge of the project. I had put my submission in front of the Council, I had hired the crew and I had signed for the money. I’ve not been back to Warsaw since and I suppose should probably leave it for a little longer yet…
So how did it all go so wrong? The problem stems – as it usually does – with money. When we arrived in London, back in July 2016, I’d made the wise decision that, as we were all grown adults, the massive amount of cash that the Council had give us would we divvied out amongst us and we would all organise our own bed and board.
Gabrjel, our boom operator, was happy staying in Air B’n’Bs – he was secretly intent on saving whilst we were away and taking the money saved back home with him. Ludwik had slightly more expensive tastes, he yearned for the high-life – so his first stop was a 4-Star Hotel off of Oxford Street. Lastly, there was Henio. Had I known that the shy and retiring Sound Mixer, who had come so highly recommended from the most legitimate of sources, was such a gambler, I would never had wired him so much money.
We had been barely a week acclimatising to our new habitats before we lost contact with Henio altogether.
He’d been drinking with Ludwik, somewhere in Shoreditch at an expensive bar and had been led into an alley for a game of dice – we didn’t see him again. Unsurprisingly, three weeks into the trip, Ludwik had burnt through all his cash. By this point I was sick of the sight of him, so I sent him packing back to Warsaw to explain himself to the Council – I doubt he ever went.
To his credit, Gabrjel stayed for a lot longer that he needed to. After Ludwik’s dramatic departure, the project had fallen to pieces and it felt like we’d learnt more about the follies of man than any kind of burgeoning political movement.