Saturday, July 21, 2007

Home Improvements

"Chilling" in Torun. In this case chilling = having all the windows ripped out at 8am, except that its really 7am because its our first morning here and there is a time difference and that. If these windows are as noise reducing as they promise then I will be happy as summer here means every bar (and there are a lot of them) gets itself an outside drinking spot. This makes the street outside noisy until everyone gives up and goes home, which is around 4am at the weekends.

So for now we have the buskers in all their glory providing the soundtrack to the day. At least its not the usual miserable voiced folk singer doing bad REM covers or (worse) his own political dirges. Nope instead today we have a three piece combo of clarinet, accordian and (what is that?) cello, I think, although he isnt playing it like any cello player I have ever seen.

So while I am in the middle of writing this post the police turn up. Seems there is a problem with permits for renovation or something. Of course my Polish isn't quite up to its full power as I have been in the country for 16 hours and it takes me at least a couple of days to acclimatise (honest). Naturally Jola is elsewhere as there is always something else that needs doing somewhere so I try and struggle through on my own.

It starts getting heated with the window fitters arguing and gesticulating and the police woman writing things down. I did consider to try for a photo but thought it might not be appropriate. Luckily Jola turns up in the nick of time to try and sort things out.

Turns out the shop downstairs has complained that we didn't sort out with them times for putting the windows in as the fitters had to put up a little warning cordon thing in case people got stuff dropped on their heads, which makes sense. So they want us to stop working and we of course aren't really down with that seeing as we have no windows in at all. All the time the band outside is playing the "Russian Theme" from Tetris complete with punctuating cries of "hoy!".

Now fines are being mentioned and its looking like 500 zloty (£100). That's quite steep so more haggling later and we have the fine down to 50 zloty (£10). Sometimes this country scares the shit out of me. How the hell do you argue a fine down 10 times with the officer on the scene? Think it through, if you can argue it down then its a matter of discretion for the officer at the scene. Put the flip side in place and your negotiations don't go so well and the police don't like the cut of your jib and who knows where it can go?

Anyway it looks like a deal has been struck and we are going to clean up some mess downstairs and postpone further demolition activities until after 6pm when the shop closes. Of course this is going to put the schedule back a bit.

Having just talked to the shopkeeper downstairs we find that the shop had nothing to do with getting the police involved, it was all their own idea. Looking at the details of the fine the fine was for "illegally blocking the pavement" which is quite frankly total bollocks as the pavement wasn't blocked. All we had done was put some tape on the ground to warn people of the potential overhead danger. As said before, the police here worry me.