Martial law was imposed in Poland. A shock to the world. The above photo is taken from the exhibition which opened yesterday to commemorate the event
I was going to go, but raging toothache stopped me from doing anything at all. Eventually in despair after seeing my own dentist who suggested I see someone else for root canal work – no one had a space for me – I rang some friends who were all very helpful- and then, minor miracle – or even major, considering the pain – I was directed to a dentist who practises near me, who promised to sort out the pain if not the tooth entirely. Last night I slept for the full eight hours. Bliss.
I can’t say the pain has gone entirely but it is certainly bearable. My face is still swollen, I look like a lopsided hamster, but I can function. Still not sure about eating, though.
But the whole episode made me think about how I would have coped under martial law. Curfews, shortages, arrests, 48 hour imprisonments. Death sentences.
Forty years ago we had staying with us friends from Poland who realised they could no go back. All they had was the stuff they had brought with them for their holiday. They made the decision to emigrate to Canada. I remember them saying that the queues of Poles like them were enormous but that the Canadians were extremely helpful.
Martial law lasted for almost two years. At the time everything was deeply censored. Post, phone calls especially. But Solidarity operated its own rules. Officially opened letters for example, if the employee was a member of the organisation, would sometimes have an indication that the censor’s heart wasn’t in it.
The best moment was when we tried to phone my father in law. We were trying to make arrangements for him to come over and when we rang his number the operator asked us who we were calling. Oh no, she said, I cannot put you through. But tell me what it’s about. She wasn’t being nosey. That evening she rang my father in law privately from her home number and passed on all the details.
Now that’s Solidarność!