Anyone who loves laughing can't not have heard of that Basil Fawlty catch-phrase in the title above. Times have changed drastically—the series ended, John Cleese married a few dozen times and now I doubt if the watchdog checking all drama, comedy and skits would allow such a racist slur in a programme. The idea that all Spaniards are idiots—even if I would love to hear it often—just can't be aired on TV.
A real waiter from Barcelona recently served us in a seaside restaurant. No I won't be naming names as I don't want to be fed for free—or actually I would want that so anyone who would like to feed me please feel free to do so. I might then plug you if you are worth saving or unplug you if your service or fare is less than serviceable. The place I went to was great and the waiter was even greater. He was very polite with beautifully spoken English with a siesta feel to it.
At a certain point this waiter—let's call him Pedro—said that he wasn't really a waiter. So we all piped up with—are you studying? No says he—I'm in TV production. So, we asked, what brought you here? Love seemed the reason to one of the diners now getting all curious. No—I come from Barcelona Pedro explained. Basil could not have said it more eloquently—but what's wrong with that we asked, while trying desperately hard not to laugh at his unintended joke. Oh he said unemployment is really bad and I didn't—couldn't—get a job. So I came to Malta. Hopefully, went on Pedro, I'll be able to get into TV. But in the meantime I'm learning a new line. I've learnt English and I get to meet a lot of interesting people. I think he added the interesting because he did wish us to tip him well. But he was courtesy personified. So tip he deserved a few times over.
Besides the obvious laugh that he comes from Barcelona a few things struck me while being served by Pedro. One is that unlike a lot of us in Malta Pedro thinks that being a waiter is not a servile job—it gives you dignity and it also makes you learn about food, you meet people and you learn the different ways of people from various lands and cultures.
The other striking thing was that our friend from Barcelona felt it would be easy to come here and get a job. In fact he even asked a friend—also from Barcelona and unemployed—to come over. They now both work here and have a life worth living, much better than remaining at home without a job. I know we have problems—or rather a load of problems—on this rock of ours but shouldn't we be thanking God (or whoever we all thank nowadays) for our many blessings?
Thank you Pedro—you helped me enjoy a great dinner and you made me love our little isle with all its foibles and faults a little more fondly.