Michael Pollek

Born: 24th February 1954

Reading, UK

Date of interview: 13th July 2006

Map showing where Michael Pollek came from

You said when you worked at Courage's with the Ukrainians, did you feel you were part of the Ukrainians?

No, I, no I didn't. They were, although I was eighteen, nineteen, and they would have been in their forties, they seemed to have always been old, they were always old. And they would just get on with their work, do their work to the best of their ability, do some more, 'cos this was labouring work, this was menial work. They would do their work, they wouldn't muck about, they wouldn't joke, and then they'd go home. I would see my father, I was alright with him, but he was unique. I know every son says their father's unique but, he was unique. He was generally a cosmopolitan man. I remember him bringing home Asian sweets the Gelabi. I remember him bringing those home when you couldn't buy them in the shops and he was saying try it. My father respected everybody and said everybody's entitled to a chance and everybody's entitled to be respected, irrespective of colour, creed, in fact he said some of the worst people he knows are Ukrainian [laughing] just because you're Ukrainian doesn't make you a good person, its who you are that makes you a good person.

But, getting back to the purpose of this, the Ukrainians were able to settle in Reading because there was the employment and then we set up a community home, which I must admit in the early days I wasn't part of, but later on I did get involved and I'm now the club secretary, and there's talk about me being head of the association here in Reading which, given the pressures of work I'm not sure I'll be able to do, however, unfortunately, our youngsters don't seem to be, they seem to become too cosmopolitan [laughing] they don't appear to be wanting to take as much interest in things Ukrainian, other than when Ukraine are playing football, or at Ukrainian Christmas. [laughing]