Anthony De Bono - here, there, everywhere
Anthony De Bono is one of the most intriguing, confident, challenging, and structured persons I have met. Armed with a quick intelligence and an innate ability for strategic moves, I compare his mind to an intricate game of chess, and his many tentacles seem to have a finger in every pie. He has had a remarkable career in public office and his CV is beyond impressive. Change and De Bono are synonymous. He maintains his successful streak because of an acute and scheming intelligence which has turned him from a civil service employee into a high flying guru.
At this very minute we are sitting on the glorious terrace at Vinum Wine Bar in Mdina, which is basically the Fontanella Terrace. I'm not too keen on the lower level at Vinum as I think the dark wood gives the place a wintry, somehow surly vibe, but the wonderful terrace compensates for this. The view is breathtaking, and if you manage to catch a glimpse of the apricot skies before the sun sets I assure you that any wine - no matter how bad - will just taste exquisite.
Vinum, has a good wine menu and an adequate selection of food dishes to choose from. Mr De Bono settles for the Greek Salad (6.00), and I'm up for some healthy eating this time around so I choose their chicken salad (8.50). I decide to go Italian for the night -maybe because Machiavelli bubbles to mind as I sit in front of Mr De Bono flipping through the menus.
The Valpolicella Classico superiore Domin Veneti takes my fancy, and the beefy waiter notes our order and finds his way to the wine cellars to fetch it. Behind us a young boy is bullying his mamma into getting him some Chocolate milkshake. Mamma darling refuses, and the child wails incessantly dreaming away into a blissful Nirvana of choc-shake. I'm thinking - get him the damn thing and shut him up please.
Mr De Bono is looking bright and breezy in a summer-power jacket and a mystifying aura that signals there is no messing up with him. He works hard and plays hard and has achieved goals many people only dream about on a Sunday afternoon siesta. My first question, hinges precisely on this fact.
"What do you consider to be your biggest achievement?" Due to the hundred and one things he has done so far, it would be hard for him to choose - of this I'm pretty sure. Wrong! His answer comes quicker than expected.
"On a national basis, I negotiated and executed the masterplan of the communication development infrastructure of Malta. On an international level, the securing of the chairmanships of the International Telecommunications Union advisory board, and so many other things....." He leaves the sentence half finished as Beefy Boy turns up with the wine and pours it methodically into a shiny wine glass for me to taste. It's quite all right... Let the wine pour!
Anthony De Bono is intriguing because he moves into various fields with the same sweeping relentlessness that characterized his moves as a Private Secretary. Between 1971 and 1982 he has been appointed Private Secretary to the Minister of Development, Minister of Health, and the Minister of Industry. What is even more intriguing is that he has maintained important positions both under the Labour and the Nationalist administration. Maybe because he has been smooth in his relations, reliable, and proved he was not just sitting pretty behind a mahogany desk.
Beefy Boy is back with the Greek and Chicken Salad. I am dead hungry and the thought of food is very comforting.
As we dig into our respective salads I challenge Mr De Bono with a new question.
"Looking back, is there anything you wouldn't do again?" It seems my question has caught him off-balance. However, I know he is a person of acute strategic intelligence so he would probably work his way to an answer quite fast. And sure enough, I predict his answer: "I never regret anything I do."
My chicken salad is pleasant. One can't really go wrong with a Chicken salad because if you do, then you should be in another business. Maybe the plates could have been a tad bigger to make it easier for one to use both fork and knife, but other than that the salad works fine.
As we sit, wine, dine, and cross the lines, my interest is peaking to new levels. He answers all my questions with the ease and steely determination of his breed. I learn that the TV show Bongu Malta, was his brainchild, that he was influential for the setting up of mobile company in Malta, and various other things. He is currently chairman of the executive board of John's group and a consultant to different companies. This man must be possessed with some kind of indefatigable energy!
Dr George Hyzler and Mdina's Mayor pop over to our table to say hello.
I'm satisfied with my salad but I still have a bulimic appetite for more answers. The plates are carefully removed by Beefy Boy who tries to talk us into a dessert or a liqueur. Anthony falls for a Remy Martin, and I allow myself a Frangelico with ice.
"You were involved in two parties, why don't you run as a political candidate?" I ask him without missing a beat. Ms Dowdy Brown Blouse pricks her ears and cocks her head to eavesdrop on our conversation.
"I would have done it in 1976 as a 26 year-old, but I've always been very prophetic. I am happy with the decisions I made, and nowadays I can say that my national and international contributions have served the country anyway."
That sentence might have sounded too complicated for Ms Dowdy Brown because now she seems more concentrated on her food and tapping the soles of her feet (that could do with a good scrub) on the floor.
A new waiter is back with the Remy Martin and the Frangelico. They serve the Remy as they should and my Frangelico is nice and chilled. Maybe a brandy was a wiser choice after all. Though it's a delightful summer evening, the air is rather cool.
"Do you have a favourite actress?" I ask him casually, watching him sip his Remy and taking our conversation to a new direction.
He looks like he is not very familiar with many screen divas. "Sharon Stone!"
Yes, Yes. Sweet and sexy Sharon is always high up in the FAN MALE list.
"May I ask you what physical feature attracts you most in a woman?" There is a surprised, half-shocked silence from my guest. "You know... the legs, la derriere, etc...." I continue, flirting with the point.
"I think the full package, though I admit I like an hourglass shape!" He laughs an easy laugh and wolfs down the rest of his brandy. He is young spirited and full of life, and do I not summon Beefy Boy to bring our bill, we probably could have spent another hour unravelling stories and shaping possibilities.
BB whips out the bill (37.10) and asks us to pay downstairs. I whip up my mental calculator and switch it to Memory-Mode. My brains are busting with all the information I have received tonight.
RATING: 1 - 7
Wine - **** Ambience *****
Food - ***** Service ****