A polarized people. The Poles are either bubbling with life, or comatose; they love or they loathe. It is this total commitment to the occupation of the moment which earns them the reputation of being mercurial. As Hemar wrote in his song: If only Poles did systematically and ecomically what they do spontaneously, they would be perfect. Necessity is the mother of invention. Key national characteristics are adaptability, a knack for improvisation, and the ability to make the best of what is available. A good Polish cook is one who can make gourmet soup from a rusty nail. The Polish touch. Devotion to style pervades all areas of life: the table might be rickety, but it is covered with a swy tablecloth and decorated with a vase of flowers. Never say never. When the Communists rather foolishly tried to stop the Poles practicing their religion, the churches filled to overflowing. Forbidden is a term of encouragement to a Pole.
The Lipniackis arrived in Britain (via Siberia and Palestine) when Ewa was three. She was educated in a Polish convent boarding-school in Northamptonshire, and progressed to London University where she took a degree in Polish. In her late teens she was one of the first English Poles to set out to rediscover the real Poland, and found a vast family stretching from the Wol'omin Poles to the Poles of Cze?stochowa. She has been extending this network ever since. A naturalised Willesden Pole, she maintains close links with the Birmingham, Wolverhampton, Rugby and Galashiels Poles. Her home has become a central node on the Polish world trade routes linking the Warsaw, Krakow, Poznan' and Gdan'sk Poles with the New York, New Jersey, Toronto, Melbourne, Venezuela, South Africa and Patagonia Poles. Like bindweed, Polish roots are long and indestructible. A librarian by profession, she can be found most Saturdays at the Polish Library in Hammersmith. She has written several rarefied works on librarianship and a clutch of children's picture books - most of which are illustrated by her cousin, a Balham Pole.