Central and Eastern Europe

To the lifelong fan

Beata Bruggeman-Sekowska

One of my most awesome Christmas periods has just started. A gift from my husband beats it all: personal wishes from nobody else than Limahl. I feel like a teenager again, going down the memory lane, a history memory line, through occupation to freedom. Yes, it is much more than only music.

It is Saturday evening, I think in 1984, I am just in the middle of the primary school.  Armed with a radio recorder with cassette tapes and a pencil in case the tape gets broken. I am  waiting for Radio Three Chart (LP3)  with western songs and especially for my favourite singer Limahl with eagerness in my eyes and red cheeks from excitement.

There he is and his ‘Neverending Story’. I press the two buttons on my tape recorder just to get a bit of a song to be able to play it again and again through the rest of the week. A bit since the songs were played in bits.

It would not be anything special if it was not behind the Iron Curtain in Poland occupied by communists. It was very unique to be able to get some real impressions of the western world. Real I mean since at school we were taught that the western countries were decayed, imperialistic and our biggest enemy.

Various western artists became very popular in Poland despite the fact that their records were never officially released in communist Poland. They became popular by direct import of their music by people who were permitted to cross the border and then illegally copy it.

The Radio Three Chart (LP3) presented by one and only Marek Niedzwiecki was a sacred moment of the week for us. It was the oldest and the longest-running Polish music chart aired by Polskie Radio Program III (Polish Public Radio, channel 3) which was playing foreign and Polish music combined.

Besides this program we tried to listen to illegal foreign radio stations like Radio Free Europe to lift this dark iron curtain just a bit but it was very risky, since listening to the radio was portrayed by the communist oppressors like a direct contact with the enemy of the country and the communist system.

I loved Limahl and this part of Neverending Story was my favorite one:

‘’Reach the stars

Fly a fantasy

Dream a dream

And what you see will be’’

No wonder, we all had a fantasy, we all dreamed of freedom and wanted to dream a dream.

Limahl was extremely popular in Poland and my room was not the only one covered with his posters and my school bag full of his photos, all bought on the so-called black markets. I remember that my happiness reached the zenith when my father bought a video recorder. Then I could also watch and listen at the same time to music from the illegal VCR cassettes.

Limahl was for me a window for a free Europe. I learned English from Wuthering Heights and….yes Limahl’s songs!

Around this time an acquintance asked me who I want to become when I get older. And then I said:’’I want to be able to talk with the whole world’’. So, I decided to dream my dream as the lyrics say.  I followed English philology and then journalism and became an international journalist believing strongly that creating walls creates impossibilities and limitations.

Limahl is still extremely popular in Poland and I still love the guy. I am a lifelong fan of his and who knows maybe I will manage to interview him once to make this story never end.

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