Michael Pollek

Born: 24th February 1954

Reading, UK

Date of interview: 13th July 2006

Map showing where Michael Pollek came from

Do you feel that you've been accepted here-

Oh yes, oh yes, yes. One thing again in Reading, Reading didn't have a problem with me as a Ukrainian as I thought it did have, the problem was always me and mine, so I've been accepted everywhere I went and any perceived slights were my own. So the interesting thing now though is that the Ukrainians seem to have accepted me as a Ukrainian, this is the old Ukrainian hierarchy, they've forgiven me for not being their priest and they've, they seem to accept me more readily than what they did before [laughing] because when I first came back from Italy they were quite angry 'cos they had high expectations of me being their priest.

One thing they would say, and this is where I'm not sure if its specific to Ukrainians or generally [laughing] all people that live in a foreign land, they would call me English, they would say what do you know about Ukraine? You weren't born there, you were born here, you're English. Well of course that's true in that, not that I'm English, I'm British, but what do I know about Ukraine? No I've never been there, this was at the time when I was younger. But then when I'd go amongst my friends, they would call me the foreigner but now, I would be insulted by it but they wouldn't.

I mean my surname Pollek, my actual real name is Pull-yek. The trouble is that my father, 'cos he couldn't spell, when he was asked his surname, said Pollyek, the immigration official couldn't spell the sound that he was making so he spelt P-O double L E-K, not even a C in it, so all my life I had to try and teach people how to spell Pollek without an O on the end, without a C in it, and that it isn't a swear word. So I had as much trouble with my surname as an indicator to my difference from the ordinary people. But the Ukrainians said that you're not Ukrainian and my story would be that if a cow is born in a pig sty, does that make it a pig? No it doesn't, its still a cow and therefore were as I was born here, I'm still a Ukrainian.