Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Koza and Effect – The story of a Polish goat.

Chapter I - Sweet Destiny

You’ve seen the pictures below, and marvelled endlessly I’m sure at the primal beauty of the Koza himself. But where is he from, why is he here and am I ashamed to have wrenched him howling from his native land? In forcing him to become part of a two-bit website with beans and the sidekick to a dead-end dj peddling unknown-but-there’s-a-reason-for-that second rate pub-rock, have I not sullied the creative, elemental forces that shaped him?

After a recent Polish news interviewed me to get the lowdown on the Koza and the story behind his coming to England, I decided it was time to set the record straight and get on with my life. Damocles’s sword has been hanging over me for so long, Damocles himself is bored of not knowing. Poor Damocles, ever since he pulled that lion out of his mousse, things haven’t been the same. But I Tigress.

Zywiec Museum sits, interestingly and thankfully, in the nearby town of Zywiec. Zywiec is roughly 40 kilos from the distant town of Bielska-Biala –the town of two rivers. Zywiec, as any stag night lout who has wandered naked through the streets of Krakow will know, is home to Poland’s most refreshing beer – Zywiec. Pronounced Jivee-ets, Zywiec is particularly noteworthy for it’s charming central squares where at easter, markets selling small painted birds and wooden eggs spring up. Just off one of this squares, through a park, lies the museum itself, a classical building of some grandeur. Huge stone rooms full of exhibits, some fascinating, others only mildly so fill Zywiec Museum, whilst the lack of visitors makes it feel like any other display of regional tat. But unlike The Sidmouth Sock Museum or The Chipping Sodbury Museum of Horse Parts, Zywiec Museum had an interesting exhibition on. An exhibition of such rare character and such animal magnetism that it struck a chord deep within all who attended. Even me.

For there, amidst a collection of polish archetypes hewn from wood and cloth, was a huge dog wrapped in tartan, a conical canine idiot with a maw like the entrance to a Swiss railway tunnel. Gaping, beckoning, the mouth hung open in silent yelp as if to invite one in. I was smitten.

Of course it was no dog, it was a goat; a Koza, as they say in Poland.

This was an extraordinary moment, a waterfall of epiphanies washed over me, the possibilities rang multitudinously in my ears like sea-shells murmuring of the ocean and the secrets of it’s hidden depths. Everyone was leaving the museum now, but I couldn’t go, couldn’t leave. I raced back up the steps for one last look at my daft, joyous pal. It did not go unnoticed, this mad distemper that had struck me down and made me fall impetuously, madly in love. Zosia and Jacek, who had been kind enough to take me and my lady to the museum in the first place were quick to act. But I, as yet, had no idea what they might be up to.

Unbeknown to me at the time, Zosia had contacted the curator of the museum, one Barbara Rosiek. Rosiek had orchestrated the gorgeous smorgasboard of authentic polish folkcraft that had so enchanted me and it was she who had made the Koza pride of place in the exhibition and dressed the beaming sod in a tartan blanket for warmth and effect. Zosia & Rosiek, I learned later, spoke of the Koza and Rosiek had given Zosia the name and address of the maker of all the exhibits – it was a name that would come to mean much in the coming year. Josef Hulka.

Sweet destiny, riding the twin horses of good fate and humble kindness, had ridden straight into my camp at nightfall, ripped open my feeble shelter and delivered a precious seed. Wheels were now in motion that could not be stopped and I, holding the seed delicately between thumb and forefinger, looked out across a horizon which held, instead of our great sun, the mouth of the Koza.

Chapter 2 to follow soon – stay tuned.