Some wit once came out with the maxim “publish and be damned”. Interesting thought that: I have to learn how to take on a toughened skin so that when I’m damned by people I won’t suffer much, and I won’t wish to go and hide.
Have I been assailed by the pro-divorce brigade for calling them slightly illiberal and maybe more fundamentalist than the church? Have the anti-divorce-forces, led by an erstwhile Mons. Anton Gouder, and fed brainwashed fodder by the Maltese fundamentalists decided to shut me up? Or has the Archbishop decreed that I’ll be damned for all time?
Nothing of the above scenarios has happened as far as I know. What I do know is that, since I started tapping away my Sunday homily, I’ve been accused of the last, lasting damnation. I have been asked, on various occasions, whether I’m going to contest the next general elections. Some didn’t ask: they accused me of harbouring these thoughts.
I know I should be eternally grateful for such feelings of others about me. Striving to join the elite of the land is quite enticing. At least in an ideal world this should be enticing. If people, especially some of the bigger guns of the island, think I am smart enough to contest, this should be a compliment. But it came closer to damning me. I don’t know if I should or shouldn’t put in a bias disclaimer which might end up damning me more than I have already been damned.
After much deliberation, held in democratic fashion at the upper chamber of my mind, I have decided to come clean: I declare most solemnly that I will not contest the national, the local or the parish elections.
So that is disclaimer one, which by the double-speak spinning of today’s surreal politics I presume will be understood that I intend to contest. This is all rubbish. I just assure all readers (the few who have remained, up to now, un-comatosed by my sermon) and especially the ones who asked me if entering politics interests me: I am not contesting.
This disclaimer needs another addendum which I had hoped would never be needed as I thought it would be obvious in my writing or would not be of any importance. Seeing that even writing about innocuous subjects like divorce, festas, football and gold (some of my previous Sunday homily subjects) can be termed arch-political in this country, I need to uncover another of my biases. I wear specs and have worn them ever since I was a little, young nerd. I still wear them now that I have developed into the old big nerd of today. The lenses of my specs have always been tinted (or as others would have it, tainted) blue. So I am biased in that department.
I would like to think that I made the choice of colour after a thorough examination of what there was on offer. Will the reds now boil me in green ooze? Does that mean I will contest with the blues? Not at all.
Or would I do what a renowned lawyer in Malta did? This lawyer once told an interviewer that he had been a die-hard nationalist all his life. The lawyer boasted he had even occupied some high places in the blues’ party. Once these naughty blues didn’t ask him to contest he turned tail, did a somersault, and changed parties because the reds asked him to contest. The reds also gave him the high, now hardly ever mentioned, post of business forum coordinator or some such stuff. That is a man of strong principles with no cares about his adulation of self. Insignificant me will never try emulating such high morals.
Why won’t I contest? Is it because I think all parliamentary members are dishonourable? Far from it: I think honour and prestige abound in the House of Representatives.
The powers that be need to be a bit more careful about what to print on their cars. There is a car, usually parked in Archbishop Street, with the words ‘HOR’ stamped on its side. I’ll grant it that the spelling isn’t spot on, but that word does, worryingly, sound like “whore”. And HOR on the side of said car, stands for House of Representatives. I kid you not. Might the House itself be the HOR of Babylon?
Back to why I won’t contest. My main reason is because I do not think I could get enough votes to beat Emmy Bezzina and Narcy Calamatta. Now these gentlemen are two erstwhile candidates of each and every election and hardly get a dozen votes each. The spectre of not being elected would not worry me. The fear of not even totting up a few hundred votes would send me into hiding for a long time. My shame would be palpable for years.
Back in the sixties, when the smaller parties were still a force to be reckoned with, a leading journalist had contested and garnered only 1 measly vote. Now imagine the same happens to me and I only get that solitary vote. Would that mean that I didn’t vote for myself to prove my impartiality and magnanimity? Would it mean that my wife, in her perspicacity, didn’t even vote for me? Oh the utter, uber, mega shame of it all.
It is remarkable how we come to confusing conclusions in Malta. I never thought writing a few articles would give me any notoriety. It’s not as if I was critical of anyone: I’ve hardly mentioned the honourable Doctors Gonzi and Muscat.
Someone thought that once I’m being critical of the roads and the driving then I must be super-critical of our present government. His reasoning was that as I was blue I must have turned traitor and joined the despicable greens. Or are they yellows here in Malta? Anyway what if I am critical of the government? Why are we so tied to a siege mentality where you can never have independent, intelligent, dull or dumb views which are not tainted by party politics? Why can’t we all (this includes me) grow up and laugh at ourselves and our politics, politicians and at our idea that we are the belly button of the world?
If anyone organises a jesters’ party, where the only electoral platform is fun, then count me in. I’m sure Narcy and Emmy would join too. We would have fun and never be serious. What a time we would have. We’d borrow the emblem of the Greens which is a smiling sun. Unlike the emblems of the other parties this emblem has fun in it. It’s quite a pity that the greens do not laugh more and are hardly like their symbol.
There used to be a time when there were some loose balls contesting the elections. There was the Partit tal-Iljun, Tal-Farfett and the inimitable Spiru Sant. All these added some colour to our drab, boring politicos who take everything and everyone way too seriously. These parties never got more than a handful of votes but who cared? They just wanted to have some fun and provide us with a touch of much-needed comic relief.
My articles were meant to be just a few jottings of a liberal, anti-fundamentalist. Nothing great, and certainly no idea of shaking the fundamentals of anyone’s fundament.
Come to think of it the articles were meant to attack this “us and them” attitude which is so pathetic and boring. I can’t believe I have ended up writing a whole article about why I write. I did what all politicians do and which they are always warned against: don’t defend yourself or people will end up thinking you have something to hide.
Now that I have made my little foray into the public arena I have to accept and live with the roaring lions. I had hoped the only roaring I’d ever hear would be of readers roaring with laughter. My spin has spun out of control.
This article first appeared in The Malta Independent on Sunday on September 26, 2010