Owen Williams picks the brain of Terry Clark-Ward – London born author, radio and TV presenter and long-time Wrocław resident.
Terry, you’ve currently got a TV show on national television, a radio show here in Wrocław and 3 books to your name. How did it all begin?
For me, it all begins with believing in your ideas. One day at school, a man who had worked on television came in to give us a talk about his career. I remember being told that if you want to achieve anything in life you should start doing it before you reach 40. I’ve never forgotten that and have always tried to do things I find interesting and have a passion for.
Ok, I’ve still got a few years then! When did you move to Wrocław? What brought you here specifically – why not Kraków, Gdańsk or Warsaw for example?
I came to Wrocław initially because I met a girl from this city and took a chance for a new life here. It didn’t work out, but I decided to stay anyway because of the many opportunities and remarkable character of this place. I’ve travelled extensively around the country and seen some fantastic regions and cities, but Wrocław has a kind of magic that no other Polish city does.
Indeed it does. Being a foreigner, perhaps you feel like I do, in that sometimes you seem to see the city differently to the natives? Would you agree?
Yes, I know Wrocław quite well. I feel at home here – Wrocław and Poland in general. I think the advantage of being from abroad is that you can see different areas for creativity that may not be so obvious to the local population. For instance, being a language school owner and hearing countless times that students wanted to have their mistakes corrected, I decided to write a book about it called Żegnajcie błędy – angielski dla Polaków.
What are your favourite things about life in Wrocław? What things don’t you like?
I like the fact that Wrocław is a historical city with a nice atmosphere and it is of course stunningly beautiful, making it great to live and work in. Not too big, not to small – just right. I live within 10-minutes of the city centre, airport, motorway and shopping centre and couldn’t really imagine a better location.
There is less and less I don’t like here because Wrocław is a city that seems to be an expert at continuous improvement. The many new buildings, bridges and sports centres together with the improvements made to roads and the airport leave little to be dissatisfied about. If there were one thing that does need to be improved drastically, it would have to be customer service.
Lots of foreigners agree with you. Is that why you decided to make 5 o’ Clark? What is it?
I think part of Wrocław’s success story has something to do with the foreigners living here. Being one myself and having lived here for some time, I felt that their story needed to be told, especially when the reasons many foreigners ended up here are many and some are quite unexpected. Like many things in life, you have to take your chances when you see an opportunity and I began to discuss the idea of the programme with both a regional and national TV channel. Amazingly, they both took it! Season 1 comprises 13 episodes.
Very interesting. When and where can I see it?
5 o’Clark is in English with Polish subtitles and you can watch it on ATM Rozrywka on Sundays at 12.30 p.m. and on Echo 24 TV on Saturdays at 10.30 a.m. and 13.30 p.m. It’s also online at www.echo24.tv and www.wroclawuncut.com.
You’ve also got a dual-language radio show on Radio RAM called Sunday Lunch.
Walt Disney once said the difference between getting somewhere and getting nowhere was simply: giving up. I’d wanted to work on the radio for a long time, but hadn’t found a station interested in a dual language programme until I finally found Radio RAM. They agreed and introduced me to my radio partner, Maciej Przestalski, a man with a great talent for radio work and with a good knowledge of music and English. Sunday Lunch is now in its second year and includes features connected to food, culture, Wrocław and a special foreign guest living here with an interesting story. You can hear it every Sunday 12.00 – 14.00 on 89.8 fm.
Ok, Sundays at 12.00… I should have guessed from the name! Tell us about the other things you’re involved with in Wrocław.
I teach English a couple of days per week and still enjoy it. I am open to good ideas and interesting projects and love to get involved. Currently, I’m working as a film-director for another Wrocław-made TV production as well as organising an international tour for a group of very talented foreign musicians. I should have another book published by the end of 2017 and, you never know, I may well also be filming season two of 5 o’ Clark.
Called Half past 5?! I see you’re a very busy man. What are your plans for the future here?
I’m an optimist and would love to work the dream 4-day-week so I could rest for 3 days. The only problem is I would get bored. But, seriously, the work-life balance situation is something I hope to master in the future.
As you’re heavily involved with expats here in the city, can you tell our readers something about the expat community they might not know?
The expat community is very well organised and there is very little in-fighting, competitiveness or jealousy. We are all foreigners here and usually stick together and support each other. The Wroclaw Expats group on Facebook is the place that most foreigners visit to ask advice on how to do things in Wrocław, but there is also a government sponsored help centre www.infolink.wroclaw.pl and a good source of English-language news and reviews available from popular portal www.wroclawuncut.com In addition to this there is a club for foreigners and Poles called the International Friends of Wrocław, a popular meeting in a pub every Thursday called Tower of Babel and a very active English language stand-up comedy circuit.
How would you describe Wrocław in five words?
Positive. Creative. Dynamic. Welcoming. Impressive.
Are there any things Wrocław doesn’t have but you wish it did? Something you miss from home for example?
I’m very content here since Wrocław has all the right ingredients for a good life. Of course, I miss going to an English pub sometimes and find it frustrating that no-one really understands cricket or rugby, but you can’t have it all.
Do you think you’ll stay in Wrocław for the rest of your life? If not, where would you go?
That’s one of the things we all struggle with – accurately predicting the future. For now, I have no plans of leaving as things are going well and I feel deeply connected to the city. I also think Wrocław is the right place for my children to grow up. I’ve come to believe that Poland is as good as any other European country to live in except for when it comes to retirement. So, that’s one challenge ahead – to make sure I don’t die in poverty!
As Wrocław is the meeting place, and you meet lots of people here, please tell us about someone or something interesting you’ve met in Wrocław.
I’ve met people from all over the world here including less familiar places such as Nepal, Cape Verde, Jordan, the channel islands and Burundi – this was rather surprising for me. In terms of things I’ve seen, I am fascinated that today, some 72 years after WWII it is still possible to find original German language signs above buildings and shops if you know where to look.
Finally, I’d normally ask about your name in English and my name in your native tongue, but it’s quite hard with you as we’re both from London! Instead I’ll ask, which do you prefer: Terry or Terrance?
Sorry Owen, no idea what your name is in Polish. As for me, Terence derives from the Latin name Terentius and there is in fact a Polish equivalent: Terencjusz. My wife found that I even have a name day in April, so it kind of made me feel a bit Polish, although nobody is familiar with this name these days. In England, Terence is a bit posh sounding, so Terry is more often used and I prefer it. However, if I ever order a taxi, I say my name is Zbyszek – it’s just less trouble that way 🙂
Terry, Terrance, Zbyszku, thank you.