It is a warm winter day in Poznań. The thermometer outside the window indicates that the temperature is plus 10°. This is a very different situation from the typical temperatures twelve months ago, when minus 20° was common at noon. Ignoring for a moment the impact of un-seasonally warm winters on agriculture and on mountains ski resorts; there is a lot to be said for feeling warmer. Mostly this is a physical sensation, however it can have a psychological dimension. I am looking out of the window across the road at the Kopernika complex of blocks of flats. The complex is divided into three groups, Kepler, Galileusz and Newton, and of the three Galileusz is the warmest group.
I can see the buildings of Galileusz, they have been insulated in the last twelve months and repainted, the colours are brown, terracotta and warm pink even when there is no sun they still appear warm and welcoming; in fact one can still feel the difference walking past the buildings on a winter's night when the only light comes from the street lamps. Then I look at the buildings of Kepler; structurally identical and yet entirely different because the ones that I can see are still PRL Grey. I mean of course the dreary, drab and soul destroying grey colour so loved by the communist authorities of Poland. In the ’eighties and earlier and there was no colour at all. Even in Poznań in 1991 there was still no colour. Now the situation is entirely different. There is colour almost everywhere.
Remembering full well all promises that were made and all the suppositions, which we all imagined would materialise under the beneficial influence of democracy and capitalism, and then our subsequent disappointments, democracy did bring colour. Colour is indeed democratic and individual. Now it is everywhere, ubiquitous, tasteful or outrageous, classical or glaringly modern, soothing or strident. Whichever it is it is here, wherever one looks. It is warm, lively and brings a sense of well being also the benefits are not restricted to those who have benefited most from the changes. Colour is here for every one, everyone feels warmer when surrounded by warm colours.
Colour was probably not one of the promises made eighteen years ago, quite possibly nobody even gave it a thought, but now it is the all prevailing evidence that whatever has not changed merely continues to exist in an environment which has changed profoundly. Why so? Because when the buildings were still all grey it was quite possible to imagine that the changes were reversible. Now, when everyone paints their house whatever colour they fancy and it is easy enough to buy paint of every colour imaginable, it is very difficult to envisage a situation where freedom of choice would not prevail. Now the revolution is truly irreversible. Poland is no Utopia; there is still an enormous amount that needs to be done. But one thing is certain; Poland is now a warm colourful place.