Maciej, who died aged 71 earlier this month, was a mainstay of the Polish Press Agency’s (PAP) and the English News Service for 27 years.
Today we say goodbye to our good friend and colleague Maciej Bankowski who has passed away following a short battle with cancer.
Maciej, who died aged 71 earlier this month, was a mainstay of the Polish Press Agency’s (PAP) English News Service for 27 years.
Along with bringing decades of experience to the department, Maciej was also happy to regale his colleagues with tales of his Bohemian days as an itinerant rock singer.
Maciej’s formidable English language skills were the result of spending many of his childhood years in London. His father, a PAP journalist, was posted to the British capital in the late 1950s as the agency’s London correspondent.
The job came with a grand flat, which served as his father’s office, and, as a consequence, it saw a number of leading politicians cross its door. One man who shook the young Bankowski’s hand was the then Labour Party leader, and future prime minister, Harold Wilson.
After returning to Warsaw in his mid-teens, Maciej graduated from high school, but then was on the road again. In the early 80s he left for Vienna where he got a job helping fellow Poles who had fled Poland following the imposition of martial law in 1981.
It was during his time in Vienna that Maciej’s love of rock music flourished, and it wasn’t long before he was the front man for a number of groups.
None of the bands made it big, but some became big enough to go on a European tour. After completing one tour, Maciej said, the band didn’t have enough money to buy tram tickets from the station, having blown their wages in ways he preferred not to elaborate on.
He remained in Austria for a number of years before deciding to return to a non-communist Poland in the mid-1990s, and, following in his father’s footsteps, got a job at PAP.
Owing to his linguistic skills he was a natural fit for the English Language Service. He was also one of the few people happy to take on the evening shift. When it would wind up at 10pm Bankowski would head out to the bars and the bands, having resumed his music career.
Decades writing about Polish politics gave Maciej a sardonic attitude towards his country’s politicians but while he was happy to lambast them in the office, his writing always remained strictly neutral and impartial.
His ample cynicism for politicians of all persuasions was equalled by his love of Swiss cheese, which formed the backbone of his breakfast in later years, along with a chocolate bar and can of Pepsi.
A dedicated professional who enjoyed his work and was liked by everybody, Maciej spurned retirement and remained working at PAP’s and TFN’s English News Service up until a few weeks before his death.