The obligatory "Welcome Meeting" a larf as we were introducted to the "Misery Sisters" - designer shopping et al. The rep. was unfamiliar to Malta having spent last season in Cyprus. So having done all the usual sales stuff to which we said "We'll use the bus" the two snobby asian women opposite caused me to gawp when they said " Where can we do some proper shopping? You know -designer". I could see that these women weren't going to find Malta that interesting, after all, if you're up for shopping of that kind, you go to LA, Dubai, Paris Milan, not Valetta. The Germans bombed all the designer shops in 1942 which is what Malta is all about - history. From the dawn of man onwards to today. I could see these people were going to be most interesting - not. Very tired after this so we had a lie down and then found the bar to watch Man Utd -v- A C Milan, which offered us the other side of British culture - the footie fan and all that. Football shirt, lager drinking, glittering with gold and a certain smugness all markout the modern fan as the chav all over. Anyway, after sampling some of the local , we trooped very tired off to bed. Not bad though - 8 hours door to door.Wednesday 17th February 2010Breakfast introduced us to "The Little Finch". Who or what is that I hear you say? Well "The Little Finch" was a small child who wailed like a little bird in the morning - as large as the breakfast room was, you could hear him everywhere. He sounded like a small bird rather than a child hence his nickname. His Italian family, especially Papa Finch and Grandpapa Finch, were left with the task of trying to calm him down. Hilarious as they hadn't much of a clue - he was actuially quite bored as he had no toys etc. to amuse him. Poor lad. Also in the room were the Misery Sisters whom we did out best to avoid so we didn't end up in a conversation about "shopping". After breakfast we tried the Malta Bus (number 45) experience by going to Mosta to see the dome. This was shut so went onto Valetta. Malta buses are a real experience, as well . They are all old British buses, mainly Leylands and Bedfords. My Mum warned me of their antiquity when she visited Malta some ten years ealier.Having arrived at the Valetta terminus, we disembarked and ran the gauntlet of horse drawn taxis, through the gate and down the high street heading towards the harbour and the Malta Experience. The streets are all quite narrow and quite delightful, washing hanging from lines strung above and ornate balconies jutting our from the three storey buildings. Not quite what you'd expect and whows the Matese put more effort into their architecture than say the Greeks or Cretians. Along the way, we found a small cafe for lunch and proceeded to follow the signs for the harbour.We found the "The Malta Experience" and bought some tickets but had to wait 45 minutes so we wandered along to the commemorative bell that ajoins the harbour wall - a tribute to the fallen of WWII. Having taken in the magnificent view we returned to the underground cinema. The film gave you and overview of the history of Malta since Neolithic times which was interesting in that most people have conquered Malta and left their mark. Our was Red pillar boxes. Having done all this it was time to find the 45 and return to the hotel for our afternoon snoozy. The bus cost us 54 cents or about 40 odd pence. Having awoken, I tried a novelty for me these days - a bath! I haven't had a bath for a few years as I had mine repleced by a walk-in shower. Ablusions completed, we partook of Dinner in the pizzaria followed by more football in the bar. Arsenal this time. Feeling still quite tired, we retired to bed to look forward to another great day in Malta. This place was beginning to interest me greatly.Thursday 18th February 2010Woke up to brilliant sunshine and decided that as the weather was so good, we would spend the day on the beach. So we loaded up shorts, towels and suncream ( can you believe that in February) and off we trotted to the 45 bus stop, next stop Mellieha Bay. We found a picth and go two sun loungers for € 3 each and settled down the difficult task of understanding "Most Secret War". Well worth reading even if you don't like WWII history. Lunch was a simple affair of chicken burgers and chips. I managed a very cold paddle in the sea - some Japanese bloke went the wholes hog and went for a swim but that was way out of my league. He looked fairly cold when he got out. I noticed the locals didn't look tempted either - they we still wrapped up in coats. 20 ° too cold for them!As the sun went down we wound our weiry way back to the hotel - stopping off for a small beer whilst the bus turned up. Returning to the hotel, Karen caught up on her sleep and I tried out the sauna and pool - very nice. In the eveing we had a very large meal in the pizzaria and having had the obligatory beer in the pub, went to bed warmed up at last after the cold of England.Friday 19th February 2010Today was Karens 49th Birthday. After breakfast and our normal encounter with "The Little Finch", we caught bus to Mosta and then onto Mdina for the "Mdina experience". Everything is an "experience" in Malta apparently.is a real film set of a place - built by various conquerers starting with the Phoenicians. The Normans had a go at the fortifications which makes it look very impressive as Mdina sits on a hill that overlooks the surrounding area quite imposingly. From the cafe that we stopped at, we had a great view of the National Football Stadium! We wandered around the streets taking in the Baroque architecture following the trail in our AA tourist guide book. "The Mdina Experience" was a short film about the history of the place from the first landings by man up to WWII. Not bad really for the money and we got a sit down for an hour in an air conditioned theatre.We sought out the bus back to Mosta and managed to get into the Mosta dome - very impressive and so is the replica bomb! Apparently, it fell through the roof and rolled out through the door! The dome ceiling is very impressive painted blue and white and it's a massive area with the usual church trinkets. After a good look around we returned to the hotel for the now obligatory bath and short sleep and made ourselves pretty for our dinner at "Guiseppe's". This was a small restuarant that promised much and delivered greatly. I started with Ocotopus. I've never eaten this and it tasted a bit like liver to me. I didn't enjoy it that much but the traditional Maltese Rabbit was great. I was going to pass on pudding but Apple pie.....Cost me a load of money but well worth it - and it was Karen's Birthday!We rounded the evening off as usual at a quiet local bar and then meadanered home.
Arriving at Manchester in temperatures of 4° but a smooth landing, we walked off the plane, found our bags, had a chat with the woman from Immigration for five minutes and then went to find the jetpark bus and find the car. I can tell you that from 22° in the morning to driving past Stoke -on- Trent in a blizzard was not my idea of a great welcome home. We reached home about an hour later, fire and central heating on, hot tea in hand and an extra jumper! The delights of good old Blighty in the worst winter for thirty years! When are we going back to Malta.............?
One of the salient threads running through the poetics and literary criticism of Oliver Friggieri, the institutional Maltese poet per antonomasia, is his tireless preoccupation with the tension between stability and change, idleness and voyage. Indirectly applied to his homeland, Malta is identified in the above haiku as a stationary boat, in a ‘fixed flux’ symptomatic of the passengers’ deeply-rooted collective malaise: that of a permanent, inexorable sensation of anticlimax, as the part-Latin, part-Semitic society struggles to pursue its desire to sail on into the promised waters of the future. The metaphor of a craft lost at sea is poignant for an ultra-Catholic micro-nation which, in 2011, has just approved the introduction of the right to divorce following a consultative referendum (hailed as a major victory despite going through by only 52.67 %), retains the colonial George Cross on its national flag, and still widely considers its native tongue as a ‘kitchen language’, to such an extent that the University of Malta has recently renewed a rule that forbids its students from sitting their examinations in any language other than English (except for those related to degrees in Maltese or foreign languages).
Although Mifsud pours most of his creative energy into prose and drama, he is well-known at home and abroad as an at once critical and nostalgic travel poet, no doubt spurred on in part by the claustrophobia of life in Malta (albeit the importance given to particularity of place does occasionally emerge in poems dedicated to specific Maltese locations). Having figuratively thrown his passport – and all it symbolises – into the sea in an early poem20, Mifsud sets out to document, in loose modern-toned hendecasyllables, the distantly personal and closely foreign thoughts and experiences from his itinerant voyages across the Mediterranean, Eastern Europe and beyond. The empathy conveyed for the victims of not-so-faraway conflicts is subtler yet sorer than in much of the verse of Grima, Schembri and others, as is the case of the prose poem Larinġa ('Orange')21 – in which the fates and fears of two housewives, Jael from Israel and Nadwa from Palestine, are described as two halves of the same orange –, and more so in several of the poems that make up the 'Ftit weraq minn… / A few leaves from…' series forming the 2005 bilingual collection km, written in or after places such as Auschwitz, Prague and Bosnia.