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Saviour Balzan | Wednesday, 28 October 2009

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It is ‘boeing’

Apart from retailers’ concern across the board about the drop in consumer spending, I guess there is nothing really exciting to be reported. If not for what the likely posse of ass-lickers write that Tonio Fenech made “a mistake” when he flew on a private jet, the rest I am afraid is very boring.
I had a friend who had a teenage son who would always continuously express his feelings by saying that it was boring. He pronounced boring as “boeing” - it was rather cute, until the constant repetitive chorus of “it is boeing, boeing” became rather boring.
In a serious attempt to do away with the ‘boeing’ feeling I decide to do what I do not usually do. And that is don a suit and attend an official reception. It was Austria day and I have to say I quite like Austrians: they are the kind of Germans who laugh and smile and act like Latins. That is why Austria is renowned for the dolce vita and also corrupt ways – just like the Greeks, Spaniards and Maltese. But enough with stereotypes.
There were the usual guests, and then of course the President and his assistant – that man who has the terrible surname Terribile. It is bad enough some people have been called Saviour – but to have a surname Terribile is the closest you can get to being very unlucky. I was looking forward to hearing George Abela, the man chosen by Lawrence Gonzi in an attempt to win points with some Labourites and level-headed people. I consider myself to be rather level-headed… but by George, no brownie points from me. No way.
I do not quite appreciate George as President. But then there aren’t many level-headed folk around after all. Which brings me back to George, who delivered one of the most unmemorable speeches I have yet to be forced to listen to. As I tiptoed to get a glimpse of the President, I could see that he was reading from a written script. A script! My God – a script!
As I searched for the persona of the President I could see the other three Presidents. Ugo, Eddie and Guido, and I thought that in their heart of hearts, the three former Presidents felt very proud. For if they had to give a speech they would have done so impromptu – not from a script. They would have remembered the notes and then delivered a speech to the guests present.
But this is not George Abela’s style. He is more of a man renowned for his wonderful smile… a man who has yet to impress me with his intellect.
Or perhaps I am asking for too much. Because when you compare the elocution of Guido Demarco, you simply cannot listen to speeches which could have been pre-recorded and read out by a 13-year-old in class. The whole point of having a President is to have someone who inspires. Guido and Ugo inspired. Eddie to a lesser extent.
But that brings me back to decade-old fetish – Gonzi. The fact that the last two presidential choices were in fact a Gonzi decision, goes to show where the problem lies. When Gonzi decided to appoint Eddie Fenech Adami as President, there was widespread disappointment. Everyone, except for the same group of ass-lickers, thought it was a great mistake. When George Abela was appointed – even though Gonzi had promised Louis Galea – everyone was too gobsmacked to remind Lawrence Gonzi that this political decision was more of a short-term Machiavellian decision rather than a sound long-term decision.
So back to the reception. All receptions are intrinsically ‘very boeing’ occasions. They are so ‘boeing’ that you cannot really understand why people take the trouble to be there. Nonetheless I have to say that they are extremely useful, most especially for people like me who have next to nothing to write about. Let’s face it – who wants to hear about the fact that George Pullicino barred a MaltaToday journalist from attending a meeting with farmers? Who the hell cares? Except for the farmers that is. Who cares if the University of Malta bans left-wing organisations from University? What is wrong in having a university akin to those from the 1960s when students were prohibited from organising protests or groups banned for fomenting ugly radical ideas.
As people munched away at the reception and sipped wonderful Austrian wine, I looked around and watched. I noticed Noel Grima in his flashy red tie and Elvis Presley hairstyle, smiling and joking with the Italian ambassador. I noticed a senior marketing executive smiling and joking with George Pullicino and calling him my ‘wizgha’ (gecko), and Owen Bonnici who ceremoniously dropped a wine glass behind the German ambassador – and of course Arnold Cassola, complaining that the last stanza of the national anthem was left out. Then there were the usual embassy staff, who thought that I was a German or an Austrian. God forbid!
Now this is my idea of fun. Next time anyone has an invitation for a reception, please make it a point to send me one. I feel so left out!

Joe and Zaren

Location – aboard a flashy boat in Msida.
Joe sits comfortably on the teak decking. Zaren goes down for a bottle of wine.
“Red wine, Joe?”
“Yes, Zar... what is it?”
“U issa! Since when did you start worrying about the kind of wine you drink... it is a Saint Emilion, 2003 – a very good year... have you forgotten that before you met me you did not drink and gibtek nies jien?”
Joe takes a sip and gurgles the wine.
“Joe you do not do that, just take a sip and leave it in your mouth for some time.”
“U iva Zaren, I was a builder – remember that.”
“Ha! That’s why the people who don’t like you call you Bob the builder!”
“It’s all envy, nothing else. If they could they would be here, sitting with you sipping Saint Emission.”
“Saint Emilion, Joe, not Emission, kemm int injorant!”
“Injorant sabih – see where I have got. And more importantly… where you have got, eh?”
“U ejja Joe, what would the party have done without my help?”
“You were not alone, there were many others who donated to the party. But ejja let us not talk about the party. I do not care about the party – issa it’s in the hands of that bravu Pawlu Borg Olivier. Come let us talk about the Enemalta power station extension at Delimara, ghax hemm daqxejn laham...”
Two young women walk on the marina seafront, and Zaren literally devours them with his gaze.
“Ejja Zaren, stop staring, I think that Saint Emission is having its effect...”
“Marelli, Saint Emilion... bahnan!!

Next Sunday: Saviour Balzan gets serious!

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