I was saved by the bell

Let me start off by saying how relieved I am not to have been sent to Brussels last week instead of Tonio Borg. I was in fact already in the middle of a riveting crash course about the sexual life of genetically modified battery hens when the news came that after all that sturm und drang Brussels had accepted Borg as Commissioner for Health and Consumer Affairs despite his standing on somewhat dubious ground in as far as same sex marriage and abortion are concerned.

The PN looks like it is imploding and exploding at every turn
- Kenneth Zammit Tabona

I felt as if I was saved by the bell. Maybe it was the realisation that even the man in the street could surmise that recent events directly concerning rulings about tobacco consumption could be logically and directly linked to the fact that the longer this post was kept vacant the longer tobacco companies could enjoy what little concessions they have left.

When you think that every day trillions of euros are made off the addiction many still have to what is popularly termed as the evil weed, one can imagine that any new legislation in the pipeline had, in the interest of the tobacco companies, has best be left there.

Let me state here and now that I was an addict too. I smoked over two packs a day up to the time, eight years ago, that I plucked up enough courage to have a one to one session with hypnotist Alan Bates. I never touched the stuff again. It was ridiculously and embarrassingly easy.

The world has turned full circle from my 21st birthday when I had decided to smoke my first cigarette and almost choked on it much to the amusement of my family who encouraged me to try and try till I succeeded assuring me that I would get used to it. It took me about a month to learn how to inhale without wanting to retch and after that I was hooked.

In 2012 this sounds completely insane but way back in 1977 smoking was the norm. Everyone smoked and wherever one went one was enveloped in a blue-grey haze. One didn’t even notice. Now watch an old film like Breakfast at Tiffany’s which I love and count how many cigarettes Audrey Hepburn and George Peppard consume and believe me it’s practically stomach churning.

So as my valise has been returned to the box room and Borg is positioned not to let his own personal beliefs interfere with his decisions about snus we can concentrate on what people are thinking and saying about Alfred Sant’s vastly overdue decision not to contest the next election and his controversial declaration of interest in being an MEP candidate.

This of course provoked a barrage of scorn as many harked back to the time, not so long ago, when Sant wanted us to be the Switzerland of the Mediterranean and opt for an arm’s length relationship with Brussels in a thingy called Partnership.

While I admit that it is very difficult to detach oneself from the baggage of prejudice, misinformation and downright lies that politicos are wont to spread around like sludge it could be an interesting exercise to take a more detached and dispassionate view of this development.

We really must mature a little more and stop discussing politics with the same blind loyalties and vehement passions with which most men and, significantly, not women, discuss football.

I think I realised I was ‘different’ the day I realised that no matter how hard I tried I felt not one jot of emotion when I attended my first St Aloysius vs St Edward’s match. I think women are far wiser than men in this field leaving them to bluster and blast while they the women get down to doing the real work.

Strangely enough this theory of mine has been bolstered by a recent Eurobarometer Survey about whether people in Malta were prepared to accept a woman or a gay prime minister.

Oddly enough despite our parliamentarians’ total oblivion to these realities, 84 per cent of the Maltese would be comfortable with a woman prime minister while 55 per cent would accept a gay prime minister, which is higher than the EU average of 50 per cent!

This shows that there is hope for all of us yet and maybe I will one day be dragged kicking and screaming out of Ta’ Sawra like Emperor Claudius and the prime ministerial laurels will be shoved, rather askew, on my snowy brow.

Sant is the exception in what goes into the make-up of a politician. We had harshly criticised his anti-EU stand and yet we are today fighting to retain our financial independence from Brussels while objecting violently to the potential 45 per cent cut in EU funding; so Chocolatelandia is not such a gravy train as we once thought it was.

We had pooh-poohed Sant’s decision not to be held to ransom by a maverick backbencher and were horrified when he called an election after 18 months which he lost rather than be humiliated at every turn.

Now we see Lawrence Gonzi being dragged through the proverbial by backbenchers who not even in their wildest dreams can ever reach the political stature of Dom Mintoff; saint to some and demon to others.

Sant is the antithesis of Gonzi and yet both leaders have proved to be disasters for their parties if not Malta too. Sant stayed on well past his sell-by date for 10 years after losing the1998 election and the PL has since tried to reinvent itself under a spanking new leader.

The PN on the other hand looks like it is imploding and exploding at every turn; paying the consequences of very arbitrary political stands that were totally out of synch with what the majority of us wished for irrespective of political belief which shows how detached from reality many of our politicians actually are.


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