Saviour Balzan | Sunday, 23 August 2009
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The reshuffle conversation

(Scene: inside Castille)

The Prime Minister taps nervously on his laptop. He looks intently as yet another seven emails appear in his inbox. “Marija, kemm dehlin illum.”
There is a knock on the door. Josephine Vassallo, his personal secretary, appears at the doorway as pretty and elegantly dressed as ever.
“Prime Minister, good morning,” she says in her high-pitched voice, “I have a new set of ties for you.”
“Hurry, Josephine, because Edgar will soon be here and you know that Edgar has no patience for these things.”
“Uffa, Prime Minister, Edgar does not care about your looks, or his own for that matter, and a little bit of colour in your life should not hurt at all.”
Gonzi smiles, but this time it is a real smile, not the tense and forced smile you would normally see on the billboards.
There is another knock on the door.
Edgar walks in, not even noticing the tall, lean and curved figure of Josephine by the side of the door.
“Prim, I have the names for the …”
“Wait, Ed, I have to choose the ties for the next engagement.”
Edgar looks around and notices Josephine. He winces in disgust, his face reddens and he shows his discomfort.
“Ara, Josephine, I think I will go for these with the blue and black stripes.”
“Okay, thank you …,” she whizzes past Edgar as if he did not even exist.
“Poggi, Edgar, and change that face ghax you are making it too obvious.”
“I have the list for you.”
He hands the list to the Prime Minister, who puts on his oversized specs and gives it a once-over.
He stops reading and reclines on the seat and takes a deep breath: “Austin and John will not be very happy with this.”
“Look, Prime Minister, we need to do something, the discontent out there is so big that a Cabinet reshuffle will do the job.”
“But we cannot have more discontent within the party. I cannot fight two wars, Edgar. It is bad enough I have a secretary-general li lanqas jaf x’laqtu!”
“Don’t worry Prim, Austin and John will do nothing. Look at JPO: not even he could rock the boat.”
“Let’s not push it too far.”
“Prim, we can always say that the ministers cannot cope with their workload and need help.”
“No we cannot, because what you are suggesting here are new ministers and a bigger Cabinet...”
“Can I at least explain what I am proposing?”
“Okay go ahead,” Gonzi says, but at that moment the phone rings.
Gonzi answers. It’s Josephine again: “Prime Minister, because I did not want to tell you in front of Edgar: for the meeting in Marsaxlokk, I think that you should wear a polo shirt and preferably it should be white. But use the one with the Lacoste label.”
“What’s Lacoste?”
“The one with the green crocodile.”
“Okay, with the kukkudrill, heh-heh!”
Edgar starts to roll his pen nervously and looks more ‘anal’ than ever before.
“Okay, thanks Josephine.”
“Can I continue…?” Edgar starts.
“Yes. Go on Edgar.”
“Mela, I am suggesting that the super ministers are trimmed. Most especially Austin, ghax you know people do not like him.”
“But Edgar, without him we are nothing.”
“And with him we are doomed, too.”
“So go on.”
“I would make Beppe Fenech Adami and Mario de Marco ministers with new portfolios. Mario will be on privatisation, lands and investment and Beppe Fenech Adami on transport and roads.”
“And what about Jason Azzopardi?”
“We’ll make him a minister and let him take over Mario de Marco’s tourism portfolio. Mario is not happy at the MTA, and he is better off in the investment fields. And we need Beppe. He will bring in the Fenech Adami old guard to our side.”
“I see,” Gonzi puts the tip of his finger in his mouth and sucks on it.
“Prime Minister, you are sucking your finger.”
“Yes, go on Ed.”
“Now, we should make Joe Cassar Minister of Health.”
“How am I going to face John Dalli with that?”
“Come on Prime Minister, John is harmless and he will do exactly as you tell him.”
“Edgar, you do not know John. I would have never imagined that he would have made such a comeback. And after all we put him through. Edgar, he will not take this lying down.”
“Can I go on? I would then make Jean Pierre Farrugia Minister of Youth, Vocations and Sports.”
“And Clyde Puli?”
“Aehm… I think that Clyde should be… Minister for Europe?”
“Ah! And Tonio Borg then? What about him?”
“Tonio will say nothing, he knows his limitations!”
“I am not sure about that, Ed. Tonio still believes that this government needs him even though everyone thinks he is an ghajjien.”
The phone rings again, but this time it is the Blackberry. It is Kate.
“Ghidli Kate.”
“Did you see the pictures of Amsterdam?”
“Kate, this not a good time to discuss our last holiday.”
“Lor, it is never a good time for you. Did you see them or not?”
“No, I was too busy…”
“Dejjem b’xi skuza! By the way Lor, I met someone who was swimming at Riviera and it is a maqjel. The sandy beach has never been cleaned and one can even find those things in the sand.”
“What things?”
“Those things!”
“What things?”
“Madonna kemm inti thick. CONDOMS UZATI, Lor!”
“Okay, I’ll see to it that someone cleans the bay. I’ll talk to you later, bye love.”
Edgar continues to roll his pen and then says: “We then have Carmelo Mifsud Bonnici. I am suggesting we change the name of his portfolio to ‘Home Affairs and Immigration.”
“I really agree with this. Carmelo has this great knack of giving the impression that he is breaking his back to solve a problem, when really and truly he does un bel zero. I even like the way he deals with all these allegations of police abuse. I like politicians who are paroli biss, they kind of remind me of myself! What else?”
“I think that we should remove Giovanna, Prim.”
“REMOVE GIOVANNA? ARE YOU CRAZY? GIOVANNA EQUALS VOTES. That is all we should do for Labour to beat us in Gozo. No, NO and NO. I disagree.”
“Prime Minister… this is not a time to disagree. This is a time to be decisive. Can you imagine if we make a reshuffle and leave Giovanna in her place? Can you imagine what that charlatan and b***a Saviour Balzan will say?”
“By the way, did you see what Noel Grima had to say about Saviour? He said that he has no personality. Ara how Balzan is going to react, eh?”
“I can just imagine, Prim. Saviour will probably say that better no personality than a split personality. Ha, ha, ha!”
“Ejja, Edgar, we need Noel, he is really on our side …”
“Dazgur, as long we continue to invite him for a free lunch and a glass of wine, ha, ha, ha…”
“So what do we do with Giovanna?”
“I do not know Prim, but I am sure we can think of something.”
The phone rings again. The secretary in the other room is on the line. “Bongu, Prim Ministru, there is Richard Cachia Caruana here and he is insisting on talking to you face to face.”
“Okay let him in.”
Richard Cachia Caruana dashes into the room. “LOR-RINSE! What is this that I am reading in that RAG, that you have decided to appoint Joe Borg as EU Commissioner? This is unacceptable!”
“Come, come Rich… do you really even believe MaltaToday?”
“Why shouldn’t I? I am sure they know something I do not.”
He digs his fingers into his hair and nervously plonks himself on the settee; he looks at Edgar who is crouched in his seat with pursed lips.
“ARE YOU BEHIND THIS EDGAR? Do you know what I have given to this country? I have given everything and remember, LOR-RINSE, if it were not for me you would not be here. I discovered you in 1985 and it was I who pushed you all the time. For Speaker, and for that and this. And you, Edgar, you were nowhere to be seen. You owe me... LOR-RINSE. I made you! I own you! And I will destroy you if I have to!”
But amid his angry outburst, Richard suddenly breaks into a gentle sob. Edgar takes out his dirty hankie and passes it on to him. A sniffling Richard looks at the hanky, then raises his eyes upwards at Edgar.
“Are you out of your freakin’ mind???? AS IF I AM GOING TO USE YOUR DIRTY HANDKERCHIEF. Hamallu!”

To be continued next Sunday


• The T-shirt that appears in Saviour Balzan’s mugshot is not an Abanderado but a stylish McNeal t-shirt.

• Saviour Balzan will stop his rendition of secret conversations when government and opposition decide to return from their eternal summer vacation.

• The Independent on Sunday sells fewer copies than MaltaToday on Sunday, so apologies if no one knows who the hell Noel Grima is.

• The conversation in this column is fictitious and satirical but it could have actually happened and if it did, one should not be too surprised.


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