Saviour Balzan | Sunday, 16 August 2009
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The last remaining steps to Paradise… lost

Before I dive deep into my final list of 12 additional steps to paradise, I’d like to mull over a thorny issue. No, it is not about the fact that Martin Scicluna took the whole Catholic Church to task over divorce when he should have been pointing his old Etonian Bren gun at Gonzi.
But it has something to do about the Church and noise. Because when the Dominican friars decided to petition for curbing outdoors musical events I was indeed surprised.
There is a wonderful song by Jim Morrison about “petitioning the Lord with prayer.” Well, the friars have decided to give up on the Lord and petition the authorities, those sad and tired guys who run this country like a blindfolded taxi driver.
The friars may certainly have every right to go beyond their pastoral remit and do things they have never done. Surely, never before in their history have the Dominicans ever petitioned a soul. If anything, the Dominicans had a rather grand time burning heretics at the stake thanks to their supreme investigative skills during the Catholic Inquisition. They were a proper Gestapo, minus the jackboots and black leather but with a nifty Roman tonsure.
But since the Maltese Dominicans are in the mood of petitioning I would very much like to ask them to follow their noble action with the following:
1) A petition to ban petards and fireworks in all villages. The sick and invalid and aged also have problems with noise emanating from these pagan rituals (I humbly suggest that they petition the Archbishop, a former Dominican friar himself).
2) A petition to control the drinking and blasphemy at village festas.
3) A petition to clamp down on all firework factories – the reason for so many unexpected fatalities every year.
4) A petition to ban Church loudspeakers that squeal repeated, monotonous and nauseating songs outdoors.
5) A petition to ban the pealing of Church bells.
6) A petition to control the fast food kiosques that take over towns during processions and festas.
7) Another petition to ask the public not to donate any more money for feasts, but to the needy instead.
Surely the Dominican friars will not be following my advice. They know that without all the pagan events at the village feasts, there would be no public to herald the memory of a saint or martyr.
But people are not pious idealists. They are the opposite of typical hoity-toity fundamentalists: they want to have fun, sort of ‘sin’ and just live their lives.
The Church is simply out of synch. What is sin to the Church is life to the rest of humankind. That is why there are such things as open-air events until the early hours of the morning, because young people want to live and kick ass.
Now it would be nice if other people were left to sleep in peace and it is essential that there are rules to these events as well. Twenty-five years ago, most young people lived a life that was controlled and uninspiring. Today young people have a mind of their own and are full of life. I envy them.
Despite their calls for sacrifice, the Church’s message contrasts with those priests – and I could mention a few – who have no qualms living the life, running large businesses, sailing yachts, fast cars, pools and even partners. No problem with that. Just stop the preaching.
If the Archbishop thinks this is all bull, he can give me a call. I will gladly give him a two-page list of religious who lead the opposite lifestyle they preach to their faithful.

Part Two

Step 13
‘Prosit tal-programm’

It shall be criminal to say “prosit tal-programm” on radio or TV programme. Anyone caught saying the phrase will be asked to watch Dejjem Tieghek Becky while restrained on a plastic-covered sofa. For those who say the phrase twice, the sentence will be a swim off the sewage outflow at Wied Ghammieq and those that utter the phrase three or more times will be coerced to take a public bus on Friday night at 10:30pm from Paceville.

Step 14
Corbelled walls

Country walls will be reduced in height to allow passengers in cars and pedestrians to savour the beautiful landscape.

Step 15
Police officers

All police officers will be asked to be conscious of their appearance. Those police officers in their Adriano Celentano pose will be asked to stand up straight. And they will kindly asked to don a police hat at all times, avoid foul language, look slim, smart and not chat on a mobile line while Joey is racing his car round the bend. Police officers will also be asked not beat up people who enter the police station.

Step 16
Jacket and tie

President Dr George Abela will be asked not to sit next to his driver but in the back seat and to wear a jacket and tie at all times. If he is sick of the job he can always ask Louis Galea to take over. It will not be obligatory for people in Court to wear jackets and ties, but to be smart casual. Just like George Abela.

Step 17
Trees and flowers

Every year 400,000 trees (one per inhabitant) will be planted. Hunters will not be informed where the trees are to planted just in case the trees are confused with BirdLife’s Tolga Temuge. Homes with balconies will be asked to hang out sardinella and geranium to add some colour to greys and whites.

Step 18
Military or community service

Every adult will be asked to choose between military or community service. Every able man and woman will give six months of their life to the country. Upkeep of the countryside and the historic cores will be a priority.

Step 19
Prostitution and pornography

The world’s oldest profession will be regulated and not banned, and pornography will be tolerated under very strict licence conditions. Gonzi will be asked to take a holiday after this very brave decision.

Step 20

Citizenship should be accompanied by a number of conditions. All citizens should at least learn some basic Maltese, such as “mur hudu f’s*****” and the Innu Malti. They should also know something about Maltese history and culture, and learn to recite the National Anthem. Examples of Maltese history should include at least three items:
1) Why Agatha Barbara was a far better President than George Abela.
2) That Nationalists are perfect and virginal and Labourites are aliens and sub-humans (according to some reliable sources, they even devour babies at Christmas).
3) That a perfect example of politics with a human face was Dom Mintoff. Which is no wonder I have lost all my faith in the human race.

Step 21
Malta Tourism Authority

The MTA will be downsized and focused purely on marketing and advertising.

Step 22
Political resignations

If someone under your stead f***s up big time, instead of blaming the window cleaner or typist it will be the man or woman at the top to take the flak. So if the VAT department is found to harbour a den of alleged criminals or fraudsters, the minister of finance will be asked to leave. In this case the Minister is Tonio Fenech. Alas, since this minister is such an overrated finance minister and has landed Malta’s economy in such a big mess, it goes without saying that Tonio Fenech will stay on and not leave. Which is why I am so convinced things will not get better.

Step 23

It shall be unlawful to keep animals if you do not give a hoot about caring for yourself. And animals cannot be left in the Summer sun without a cover. Horse cabbies next to the cruise liner terminal will have to have an appropriate cover. That includes nincompoops who bake their canaries in cages on balconies or pot-bellied idiots who chain their dogs in garages or on roofs. To drive the message home, those who carry out these acts will be made to sit in a cage on a southerly facing balcony, or chained to the cruise liner terminal perimeter from 10am to 2pm, without any sunblock; or chained to a wall in a humid garage with a small loaf and some water.

Step 24
Maltese icons

All schoolchildren will be asked to memorise a few names as their icons.
(a) for good business deals and prosperity: Bertu Mizzi
(b) for being a great sport: Joe Mifsud
(c) for being a political visionary: David Agius MP
(d) for being puppet on a string: Paul Borg Olivier
(e) for fair commentary: Joe Pirotta
(f) for beauty and obesity: TFB
(g) for great double-acts: Vince Farrugia
(h) for the love of your competitors: Kevin Decesare
(i) for no commitments: Joseph Muscat
(j) for ‘take me back to the Dark Ages’: Bishop of Gozo

The secret life of the Cardinal

MaltaToday enters the Cardinal’s office and places a small mic and spy camera. They are placed in the corner of the room next to the temperature sensor under the smiling portrait of His Excellency, the President of the Republic of Malta George Abela, the man who likes to sit next to his driver.

The Cardinal lifts up the phone and dials 74.
Drin, Drin, Drin, Drin, Drin, Drin, Drin, Drin, Drin, Drin, Drin, Drin, Drin, Drin, Drin, Drin, Drin, Drin, Drin, Drin...
Finally someone answers the phone.
- I am sorry Mr Cachia Caruana. I was in the toilet…
“You do not say toilet, say BATHROOM! BATHROOM, you simpleTONNNNNN! Come IN NOW, NOW… and get me that EU file on hunting.”
A petrified secretary walks in, shaking.
“LEAVE IT THERE, and tell Johnny I want an espresso.”
She turns back and heads towards the door.
“WAIT, what is that?”
- What is what Mr Cachia Caruana?
He points to her trousers and her waist. She is red in the face.
- What, Mr Cachia Caruana?
“You have a VPL. Do not come to work with a VPL!”
- Sorry, but what is a VPL?
“DOOO NOT SORRRY ME, you IDIOT. SAY PARDON, YOU HAMALLA. A VPL is a visible panty line. Now go… and see that you make an appointment for me with Deafnee at the Westin at 2:30pm, with Ivan Camilleri at 3:30pm, and with Fr Joe Borg at 4pm. And see that they have that apple tart with whipped cream for me.”
- Okay Mr Cachia Caruana.
She walks out sobbing. One of the messengers and a Cachia Caruana bodyguard console her by telling her to ignore him. In his room Cachia Caruana takes the MaltaToday and turns to page 15.
“What a bastard, what a bastard!!”
He stands up and kicks a chair. “Ouch, OUCH. AJMA… HHUUU that hurt!”



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A midsummer’s nightmare?


Saviour Balzan
The last remaining steps to Paradise… lost

Evarist Bartolo
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Michael Falzon:
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Claudine Cassar
Our human destructive genius is hard at work


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