Somewhere, way back in my family, there is Polish blood. I thought that perhaps, in visiting London's Polish Centre, I would feel some kind of bond with my ancestors. Unfortunately, the bond was not so strong that I could understand any of the information about the Centre, which was entirely in Polish. Still, I sheltered from the rain and various pretty, blonde old ladies showed me around. There is currently an interesting display of Polish religious art, and a cafe and restaurant to enjoy. The Polish Centre also has a cinema, where they screen English films in Polish. The impressive Polska Theatre is mounting a Tom Stoppard play. Latymer, the school across the road, recently put on an acclaimed performance of Guys and Dolls there (Cameron Mackintosh let that one go ahead). It was generally agreed that 16-year-old Eliza Mishcon, as Miss Adelaide, is the Barbra Streisand of Hammersmith.
The Polish Centre is an elegant building in the hell that is King Street. Avoid, at all costs, Shellys Shoes across the road - the people who work there radiate grumpiness throughout west London.
King Street eventually turns into the far more genteel Chiswick High Road. There are some nice discount clothing stores on Turnham Green Terrace (for cords and dungarees, try Passenger), but the main attraction is watching Imogen Stubbs and Trevor Nunn feeding their 3000 children in Tootsies. To suit their bohemian clientele, Orbit, the local video store, stocks a huge range of obscure art films. They also sell film books (Scorsese on Scorsese and Hal Hartley's scripts).
Polish Centre, 240 King St, London W6 (081- 741 0398)