The Maltese Ħobża

Anyone who thinks that nectar, ambrosia, and manna are the foods of the gods is way off the mark.
Nothing beats a ġenba torn off the side of a warm ħobża before one even leaves the bakery premises. This explains the trail of crumbs from the counter (or a plank resting on two soft drinks cases) and the door. In my day, when the bread was too hot to handle, Tal-Ħobża always had a supply of bits of cardboard torn off the mound of collapsed boxes collected expressly for this purpose. And the aroma inside the bakery would cling to the clothes.
It is a Semitic tradition to break bread with someone as a sign of welcome, and friendship. And no wonder. Our bread is nothing like the anaemic, oblong, spongy loaves bought for convenience rather than taste and texture. Indeed, Maltese bread is the best thing since before sliced bread.
How could you honestly hope to mop up the gooey garlicky mess at the bottom of the fenek fry-pan? Could you use anything else but tal-Malti to slather with butter and eat with ġbejniet tal-bżar? Would any other type of bread taste as good, spread with kunserva, drizzled with olive oil, and sprinkled liberally with freshly-crushed black pepper and Mediterranean sea-salt?
Incidentally, if you can get an unbaked loaf of bread from the baker, you will find that it makes the ideal pizza.
The friable crust and soft crumb (this is the bieba as opposed to crumbs, which are the frak) make for an ideal marriage of textures and tastes… with one proviso: contrary to the sanitised breads that keep relatively fresh for up to three days, Maltese bread is best eaten on the day it is baked. And anyone who has bought sliced Maltese bread, packaged inside a knotted plastic bag, knows that this is not the way to eat it, either.
Most areas are blessed with twice-daily bread deliveries, mostly from the Maltese equivalent of Bethlehem (“the house of bread”) – Qormi, which was also known as Casal Forno. This enables us to purchase ħobż that are never more than half a day old (it takes eight hours in total to produce a loaf of bread). You may, of course, opt for the unleavened ftira – especially if you are off to the beach, as this holds my preferred filling – tomatoes or tomato paste, capers and olives, anchovies and onion rings – so much better.
Unless you intend to make speciality breads, the above means that buying a bread-making machine would probably be a waste of money. Bakers always leave a clump of dough from the day before, in order to start off the fermentation of the next day; machines always stipulate yeast as an ingredient – and the taste is never quite the same.
Bakers will tell you that the end result depends upon many variables – the type of flour, and water used, the proportion of the ingredients, the temperature at which it is cooked, as well as the type of oven. The dictum goes that the bigger the hole, the better the quality.
The dough is always different depending on the quantities of ingredients, the type of water used, the type of flour, the temperature to which it is subjected and so on.
As in the case of puddings and pies, however, each household has its own ‘recipe’ for what goes inside a ħobż biż-żejt… tinned tuna, pickles, garlic, marinated vegetables, leeks, thinly-sliced cucumbers, grated carrots, capsicums…
Maltese bread, soaked in a mixture of milk and water, and squeezed out, forms the basis for pudina. To this, you add whatever you have in your larder in the way of vine fruit, dried and candied fruits, cocoa, and rum (or anisette or brandy or vermouth). Some people add sugar, desiccated coconut, butter, and an egg or two.
The mixture is placed in a buttered, floured dish and cooked at a low heat until it forms a crust, and a knife stuck into it comes out clean.
Whichever way you decide to use it, small wonder that the smell, texture and sheer debauchery of the Maltese hobza, over any other local food offering, is what breaks the heart of all émigrés every time.

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Just Clowning Around

The only reason I have been asked to give this speech is because I made it alive out of the lions’ cage. They wouldn’t eat me, because I tasted funny. Actually, it’s the same thing the penguin thought when he was eating a clown fish… I repeat, ‘tasted funny’. Har, har.
Funny that you aren’t all laughing at my clowning around. That was jester little joke to break the ice.
Let me tell you a little story, just so you’ll know what motivated me to become a clown. No, it wasn’t Chuckie.
Once upon a late wintry storm night in Boston, the circus couldn’t make it up Beacon Hill. The tractor wheels kept spinning; the horses, and the camels, and the elephants, kept sliding back. The bosses thought the clowns, with their big shoes, might have better traction. So they promised the clowns a bonus if they did the work of the beasts of burden.
The clowns were harnessed, and, at the behest of the ring-master, synchronised their left feet, to take their first pace at the count of three.
Nothing happened. And the Chief Clown made a rude jester, har, har.
Then the Littlest Clown of All had an idea. He asked for a light sprinkling of gravel to be applied over the snow. They tried the one-two-three routine again, and it worked.
Yesss, ladies and gentlemen, sanding in the clowns worked, har har.
And that is why you see me here.
The moral of the story is… you gotta take the rough with the smooth.

Ghost of Christmas Present

 

Saturday, November 7, 2009, 16:35 by

 

 

 

Ghost of Christmas Present

 

“He’s in Malta!” she muttered, as she waited to for the line to connect. “Meet me at the Upper Barrakka in ten minutes, near where the Lift used to be!” he said. That’s all. Not even the usual “See you!” which he knew could make shivers run up and down her spine.

 


Oh heavens, knows I’m pregnant. Why didn’t he pick the Lower Barrakka, just across the road? He knows I tire easily – and it’s uphill all the way… I will never understand that man as long as I live.
She bunched up her hair, jammed on her crochet beret, and as she struggled to put on her parka, she rapped on her neighbour’s door and told her she was going out, handed her the key to the flat, and asked her to switch off the oven in fifteen minutes’ time.

 

“You look excited!” exclaimed the woman into who she bumped as she turned into Saint Christopher Street. Oh yes, something’s come up… she blushed, and ran up the steps. She crossed Saint Ursula Street and turned left when she got to Saint Paul Street. She was already huffing. She counted each corner. At the back of her mind, there were those dreary history lessons in which she had learned how the streets of Valletta, except for the coast road, were at right angles to one another. However, learning their position on a map was extremely difficult for her (she has dyslexia).

 

Her English language teacher had mocked her in front of the whole class when, during the Careers Convention, she had declared she wanted to become a journalist. “You can’t even read a Primer!” I’ll show her, she’d thought. Eventually, her name had appeared on the front page, under the story about how ghostly presences had been seen walking along Saint Barbara Bastions. The said teacher had called her editor to say that someone must be ghost-writing her articles.

 

A medium had sworn he’d been contacted by ‘foreigners’ who were against the proposed underground track service, since it would desecrate their final resting places. The people who had proposed it said he was talking bunkum – but it turned out that a prison for slaves had existed in that general area at the time of the Knights of Saint John.

 

Not many people noticed that, one Sunday morning, a priest had visited the site, said some prayers and sprinkled some holy water from an asperses over the bastion sill. She had been looking out of her bedroom window – and included the incident in her report.

 

He’ll think I’m not coming she gasped, as began climbing the shallow steps in the upper part of Saint Paul’s Street. People were looking inquiringly at her flushed face. She was actually on maternity leave, but she wanted to one-up the silly journalist from the rival paper with this Christmas scoop.

 

Once at the very top of Saint Paul Street, she took a deep breath and ran all the way to the entrance of the gardens, heading towards the back. “You made it!” he smiled. It struck her simultaneously that he looked deathly pale, and that he did not get up to greet her. It was only when she went to hug him that she noticed he was sitting in a wheelchair. She flinched.

 

“They broke both my legs. And then kneecapped me, to make sure I never walked again… But it doesn’t matter. Here, take this,” he said, as he handed her a big manila envelope, bulging with secrets. “Leave. Now.”
She made to complain. He shook his head; and suddenly the wheelchair was empty. She gasped, and instinctively felt that for the baby’s sake, it would be better if she left immediately.

 

Returning home via Saint Ursula Street, she heard a commotion. People screamed as an SUV skidded to a halt just in front of the gate. Two thugs wearing balaclavas dashed out, leaving the doors open, and ran into the gardens, guns blazing. She bent double, and retched.

 

Later, she googled his name. The first link that came up was his obituary. He had died five months previously, in an unexplained accident on a business trip.

 

Beware of the Message!

Posted on January 15, 2013

 

 

Teens tend to call anyone they meet on-line a “friend”.
More than enough has been said about the perils of this – how the lovely young lady who is so keen to help your daughter with her Italian homework is really an aging, balding, Macintosh-clad Lothario who would be grooming her for online exploitation.
Today, however, we will be focusing on another facet of “friendships” – the ones where contacts have their accounts hi-jacked by third parties, who then go on to ask your children for money, while pretending they have found themselves in dire circumstances.
The other day, a friend of mine had barely left my house, when I received an e-mail purportedly from her.
My Dear Tanja (and she had never addressed me like this before!)
I really hope you get this fast. Am in a really bad and terrible state right now, I traveled with my family to Manila Philippines for Holiday and Tour but unfortunately we misplaced our wallet and cell phones on our way back to the hotel we lodge in after we went for sight seeing. The wallet contained all the valuables we had. Now, our passport is in custody of the hotel management pending when we make payment.
I am sorry if i am inconveniencing you, but i have only very few people to run to now. i will be indeed very grateful if i can get a loan of $2,000 from you. this will enable me sort our hotel bills and take a cab to the Airport. I will really appreciate whatever you can afford in assisting me with. I promise to refund it in full as soon as I return. let me know if you can be of any assistance. Please, let me know soonest.
This particular friend and I have been buddies since we were in single number ages; I know that her English is perfect. Besides, since we live in Europe, we use British English – and this e-mail was in American English.
It was clear that whoever had hijacked her e-mail address book was sending long-shots haphazardly. They could not have known that we are “real life” friends and not merely “virtual” ones.
It got weirder from there.
On spec, I shot back an e-mail saying “I am worried. Call Me”, using a shortened form of her name that she absolutely hates. I waited.
Quick as a flash, the reply came back. Sure enough, it was signed as though by her, with the moniker she detested.
Am so glad you replied back,I can’t call or receive calls here because the hotel management would not allow me have access to any of their phone facility which is the reason why i need you to help me,You can have it wired to my name via any Western Union Outlet around you….. I’ll have to show my passport as ID to pick it up here and i promise to pay you back as soon as I get back home hopefully today.
Again, I noted that the syntax and spelling left much to be desired; and besides, there was also a different return e-mail address from the one in the previous e-mail. This, of course, would ensure that any monies would get directly to the perpetrator of the scam, even if the real owner of the original address would meanwhile have twigged about the potential swindle.
There followed the person’s name and address (which I was supposed to know anyway) and an address, with the ‘order’:
Here is my info where you will wire the money to:
The address, for what it’s worth, was:
Block 26 st Joseph Village Trece Materez
Manila Philippines
Out of curiosity, I put this in a search engine, and it came up, with a slightly different spelling as a House for Sale, as is often the case. Nobody would be living in this vacant property, so it would be relatively easy to crack open the letter box and steal the mail… hopefully, a handful of cheques-in-the-post if enough people decided to cough up without verifying whether the original mail was genuine!
There was even more. Of course.
As soon as it has been done, kindly get back to me with the western union confirmation number… Let me know if you are heading to the Western Union outlet now…
Oh, yes. These people did not even know that I live in a different time zone, and that it was around midnight when they asked me to inform them whether I was headed out the door.
Meanwhile, I called my friend and told her to change all her e-mail addresses and social sites passwords, which she immediately did.
I found it amusing that after she had told me they needed money to get home, she was apparently suddenly in the black again, with enough cash to return home and pay me back as soon as she got there. So, I ask myself, why was it that she was not allowed to access her own bank accounts if she had the money to pay off whatever debts she had incurred in her place of lodging?
The plot behind this dodge was a sieve.
I have been told that such letters, when formulated to be addressed to teens, will contain slang words and expressions such as “Mom’ll kill me”, to make them sound more authentic.
Please warn your teens that sob stories like these are barefaced lies, meant to skim money off them with no chance of redress.

Pigging Out for Prosperity!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009, 13:13

 

An Austrian New Year’s Eve celebration would not be complete without the traditional pink pig-shaped biscuits. A Sylvesterabend (Eve of St. Sylvester) dinner also includes actual pork. If it’s not a ham hock, it’s sausages – which, being fatty, connote fattening wallets. If the past year was unlucky, then the part of the hog to cook was the jowl, supposed to bring about a reversal of fortune. Germanic people tend to pick beef short-ribs as lucky foods.

Italians combine the pork with lentils. In other countries, the legumes of choice are black-eyed peas. This is because during cooking both swell and look like coins; in some cultures they are combined with rice or cereals. Strictly speaking, one ought to eat 365 lentils, black-eyed peas, or grains of rice, in order to “qualify” for a lucky new year. The Italians eat cotechino (boned, stuffed trotter) con lenticchie just after midnight.
Counting, for the Spanish and Portuguese, and their former colonies such as Venezuela, Cuba, Mexico, Ecuador, and Peru, is a matter of months – they pop a grape for each stroke of midnight, and if a grape turns out to be bitter, the month it represents will be so, too. Peruvians insist on taking in a 13th grape for good measure. Rumour has it that this tradition was deliberately begun in 1909, when there was a surplus of grapes in the Alicante region.
Saint Sylvester is credited with having baptized Constantine the Great; and this means that not only is he the precursor of a new year, but also the vanguard of a new Christian era. It is traditional to toast one another with a typical punch on this night.
Dollar bills are called greenbacks and cabbage in slang. This idea is also transposed to the dinner table – and therefore, eating green leafy vegetables (kale, lettuce, spinach, cabbage, or, to stretch a point sauerkraut or coleslaw) that are torn, as opposed to being cut with a blade, is supposed to bring luck for the forthcoming year. The Danish sprinkled their stewed kale with sugar and cinnamon.
Germans have been known to place fish scales, since they look like shiny coins, in their wallets for good luck. By association, eating herring on the stroke of Midnight on New Year’s Eve will bring health, wealth, and happiness. Herring is eaten either as roll mops (marinated and rolled around a pickled cocktail onion) or, when it is of portion side, whole, with salad.
If the very thought of pink biscuits makes your tail curl, you can follow the Greek customs and put some coins into a plain cake – cheating to make sure that there is one in every slice, perhaps.
The pig, however, remains a prime candidate for New Year’s Eve dinners, perhaps because of its corpulent body, a symbol of opulence. In many American states, it is traditional to eat Hoppin’ John, which combines all three principal ‘lucky’ ingredients – pork, beans and greens.
As with minestra, Christmas Log, and other dishes, everyone insists that there is only one correct recipe – his – for Hoppin’ John. If the dish is going to be cooked like the Italian risi e bisi, must the rice and the peas be cooked separately, and combined, or must they be allowed to simmer together for the flavours to mingle better? Should tomatoes be added to the pot, or must they be purred into a pouring sauce consistency? Or must they be chopped, and raw? Must the peas be mushy, or must they have bite? Is it wrong to use a Dutch oven, a wok, a pressure cooker, or anything else except the traditional cast-iron skillet? If you are using chitterlings, must they be cooked separately, or should you begin with them and then add the rice, and later, the peas? May one use processed peas? The questions go on – and on.

Let’s Pretend…

Tuesday, October 16, 2012, 11:43

The other day, one of my vegan friends asked me over for lunch for the first time ever. I don’t really like fish flesh or fowl; so when she asked whether it would be a problem, I said it would not.
When she dished up, my eyebrows rose of their own accord. A huge, beautiful salad was topped by two cutlets. “Cute, aren’t they?” she asked. “They’re soya, and they’re simply delicious…”
Frankly, I cannot comprehend the pretence of eating meat when you profess to abhor it. Is this not the humorous version of The lady doth protest too much?
This blinkered attitude, moreover, is rife all around us.
Probably the one that hurts the most is the current exposé of Jimmy Savile and his cohorts. It is beyond obnoxious that when people tried to divulge their suspicions or even reveal what they knew, they were shushed up with complacent cajoling comments such as That’s the way it goes, or that’s Jimmy for you, and so on. This, the ugly version of eppur si muove is telling of how those who are in a position to do something, anything, often fear to rock the boat because complacency brings a hefty cheque at the end of the month.
So because the dirty old man (who began his nefarious career of abuse when he was still young) raised millions for charity, we condone his behaviour, and, worse, pretend that nothing was happening?
It was the same thing with the other predatory paedophile Jerry Sandusky’s reign of terror on the boys under his care. Let’s pretend, his defence attorney said, that he was teaching these inner-city boys how to use a bar of soap.
A lot has been said about how we must pretend it is only the people of Mellieħa who take exception at being called pufta. This, again, makes no sense at all; I do not see why anyone should consider it an affront to have his sexual orientation questioned. I don’t; I am content inside my skin and nothing anyone will say can make me change what I am into something they say I am, or that I ought to be.
More pretence comes with the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy. Let’s pretend that women secretly want to be dominated and beaten into submission is part of the spiel that has many men “buy it for their wives” and women fantasise about how they would like to be seduced and ravished in a way that involves pain. It could also be, of course, let’s pretend that most women’s sex lives are so vapid that they need lessons in how to get titillated.
This is as risible as the argument recently brought forth by Former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic. As he begins his Hague war crimes court defence, he insists that not only should we pretend his ten charges of genocide and other crimes against humanity during the war in the 1990s never happens, but that, moreover, he ought to be awarded for all the good he did – including “reducing the suffering of civilians”.
Abuse of power is something that happens not only nation-wide, but also inside a home where children have a right to be safe. It is beyond my comprehension how an incestuous father could be so wickedly diabolic as to pretend to each of three daughters she was his only victim – and doing this by placing a price on the life of a sibling.
And it must be said that the risible sentence he has received gives the message that – make no pretence about it – this taboo, at law, is certainly not held in the same way as it is viewed by mothers of children the same age as this fiend’s daughters, and many others too.
Hoaxers and conmen throughout the ages have long known that people tend to fall for the “let’s pretend” ruse most of the time. Some of the fabrications are fun; others could possibly have lethal consequences.
We used to laugh at The Addams Family cocktails emitting chill-and-smoke effect fumes that could have been obtained by dry ice or liquid nitrogen. However, we never saw Morticia Addams or anyone else on the series actually drink the potions. Yet, pretending it is trendy thing to drink a Nitro Jägermeister has landed at least one teen in hospital with a perforated stomach.
We have enough of “let’s pretend” in the cinema – and in certain so-called news bulletins.
Reality is something that isn’t even present in reality shows, or many of the magazine programmes in which opinionated people mouth off, often speaking over others, hoping that their loudness will make them credible.
Why are we allowing let’s pretend to rule, and truth to be so elusive, in real life?

The Maltese Hobża

Hobż
http://www.planetmona.com/food-on-planetmona/65-news/3024-the-maltese-hobza
Tanja Cilia describes the essence of the Maltese hobza in oven-glowing terms:give her oh lord her daily bread
Anyone who thinks that nectar, ambrosia, and manna are the foods of the gods is way off the mark.
Nothing beats a ġenba torn off the side of a warm ħobża before one even leaves the bakery premises. This explains the trail of crumbs from the counter (or a plank resting on two soft drinks cases) and the door. In my day, when the bread was too hot to handle, Tal-Ħobża always had a supply of bits of cardboard torn off the mound of collapsed boxes collected expressly for this purpose. And the aroma inside the bakery would cling to the clothes.
It is a Semitic tradition to break bread with someone as a sign of welcome, and friendship. And no wonder. Our bread is nothing like the anaemic, oblong, spongy loaves bought for convenience rather than taste and texture. Indeed, Maltese bread is the best thing since before sliced bread.
How could you honestly hope to mop up the gooey garlicky mess at the bottom of the fenek fry-pan? Could you use anything else but tal-Malti to slather with butter and eat with ġbejniet tal-bżar? Would any other type of bread taste as good, spread with kunserva, drizzled with olive oil, and sprinkled liberally with freshly-crushed black pepper and Mediterranean sea-salt?
Incidentally, if you can get an unbaked loaf of bread from the baker, you will find that it makes the ideal pizza.
The friable crust and soft crumb (this is the bieba as opposed to crumbs, which are the frak) make for an ideal marriage of textures and tastes… with one proviso: contrary to the sanitised breads that keep relatively fresh for up to three days, Maltese bread is best eaten on the day it is baked. And anyone who has bought sliced Maltese bread, packaged inside a knotted plastic bag, knows that this is not the way to eat it, either.
Most areas are blessed with twice-daily bread deliveries, mostly from the Maltese equivalent of Bethlehem (“the house of bread”) – Qormi, which was also known as Casal Forno. This enables us to purchase ħobż that are never more than half a day old (it takes eight hours in total to produce a loaf of bread). You may, of course, opt for the unleavened ftira – especially if you are off to the beach, as this holds my preferred filling – tomatoes or tomato paste, capers and olives, anchovies and onion rings – so much better.
Unless you intend to make speciality breads, the above means that buying a bread-making machine would probably be a waste of money. Bakers always leave a clump of dough from the day before, in order to start off the fermentation of the next day; machines always stipulate yeast as an ingredient – and the taste is never quite the same.
Bakers will tell you that the end result depends upon many variables – the type of flour, and water used, the proportion of the ingredients, the temperature at which it is cooked, as well as the type of oven. The dictum goes that the bigger the hole, the better the quality.
The dough is always different depending on the quantities of ingredients, the type of water used, the type of flour, the temperature to which it is subjected and so on.
As in the case of puddings and pies, however, each household has its own ‘recipe’ for what goes inside a ħobż biż-żejt… tinned tuna, pickles, garlic, marinated vegetables, leeks, thinly-sliced cucumbers, grated carrots, capsicums…
Maltese bread, soaked in a mixture of milk and water, and squeezed out, forms the basis for pudina. To this, you add whatever you have in your larder in the way of vine fruit, dried and candied fruits, cocoa, and rum (or anisette or brandy or vermouth). Some people add sugar, desiccated coconut, butter, and an egg or two.
The mixture is placed in a buttered, floured dish and cooked at a low heat until it forms a crust, and a knife stuck into it comes out clean.
Whichever way you decide to use it, small wonder that the smell, texture and sheer debauchery of the Maltese hobza, over any other local food offering, is what breaks the heart of all émigrés every time.

Vinegar Valentines

Wednesday, February 11, 2009, 09:45 by Tanja Cilia

As the days go by, I think how lucky I am…. Hey, it’s Valentine’s Day….. How can I say this….? I always wanted to have someone, someone to love…. I love your smile, your face, and your eyes…. I see your face when I am dreaming….. If we were on a sinking ship with only one life jacket… I’m so miserable without you… I want to feel your sweet embrace….. I want you, and I need you… Kind, intelligent, loving and hot….. Looking back over the years, I wonder….. My darling, my love, my beautiful wife… My love, you take my breath away…… Of loving beauty you float with grace…. Someday I hope to marry… We have been friends for a very long time… You are a part of my life….
Receiving cards with the above messages written on the front would make anyone’s day…. but opening them to find cruel words would wound deeply.
These cards are not run-of-the-mill “joke” cards. They deliberately seek to hurt, insult, the recipient, with acidic messages, and that is why they are called “Vinegar Valentines”.
They were originally sold for one penny – and that is why some people still mistakenly call this type of street literature “penny dreadful” (the name given to potboilers). They counteracted Cupid’s sweet arrows with tart barbs.
The picture, when there is one, is usually a caricature of the recipient, according to type… and sometimes, the message makes reference to this too. This is the type of card that Calvin (of Bill Watterson’s Calvin and Hobbes) gave to his classmate Susie Derkins, along with a bunch of dead flowers, as an integral part of their love-hate relationship.
It is obvious that these precursors of hate mail were sent anonymously – and seeing that there was a time (not in Malta) before postage stamps were invented, when people had to pay to be given their mail… it means that recipients paid to get insulted.
Raphael Tuck & Sons, proud to be known as “Publishers to Her Majesties the King and Queen” with printing houses in London, Paris and New York, from the mid 1800’s into the early 20th Century also got on the Vinegar Valentines bandwagon, when they realised that it paid.
One could buy these Vinegar Valentines as we buy “open” cards today. Others were aimed at specific professions that people loved to hate – dentists, undertakers, politicians, lawyers, teachers, or anyone to whom one would have taken a dislike.
These days, most people tend to sign their Valentine cards – especially if they cost good money. It is only a few who want to play the guessing game.
Although Vinegar Valentines have gone out of fashion, some so-called humour cards are crass enough to be classified as worse.
Just in case you were wondering what was written inside the cards, the front of which was quoted at the beginning of the piece… here are the complete messages.
As the days go by, I think how lucky I am… that you are not my girlfriend!
Hey, it’s Valentine’s Day… too bad no one likes you!
How can I say this…? I can’t stand you!
I always wanted to have someone, someone to love… and you’re not her!
I love your smile, your face, and your eyes… am I not good at telling lies?
I see your face when I am dreaming… and that is why I wake up screaming.
If we were on a sinking ship with only one life jacket… I’d miss you!
I’m so miserable without you… it’s as if you are still here.
I want to feel your sweet embrace… but don’t take that paper bag off of your face.
I want you, and I need you… to leave me alone.
Kind, intelligent, loving and hot…. this describes everything you are not.
Looking back over the years, I wonder… what did I see in you?

My darling, my love, my beautiful wife… marrying you messed up my life.

My love, you take my breath away… what have you stepped in to smell this way?
Of loving beauty you float with grace… if only you could hide your face.
Someday I hope to marry… anyone else but you.
We have been friends for a very long time… how about we stop?
You are a part of my life… the negative part.

Private Dancers – In Public

Thursday, October 6, 2011, 12:45 , by

 

The sticky, stinky brown stuff has really hit the fan. Some asinine attention-seeking (female) teens have been cavorting in front of their peers, and the media caught wind of it.

However, I was more shocked at the reactions and opinions of quite a few of my friends – mur ara, as one of them succinctly put it, than at the foolish antics of the girls.

One of the women to whom I talked justified her point of view by saying at least I know where she is; another chided me for being behind the times for not taking this in my stride, and another insisted that these days you cannot stop them or ground them because they will call the Helpline – oh, yes, you can; and so what if they do?

Some time ago, in Italy, there was a great to-do about under-age cubisti; youngsters hoping to be ‘discovered’ by talent scouts, who spent their evenings writhing away in suggestive and provocative poses on ‘cubes’ (raised platforms) in seedy clubs.

Whether these, and our local girlies, are offered the casting couch is anybody’s guess.

But I digress. This is much more than a sad case of finding an outlet for raging hormones and the wish to ‘experiment’

Beyond the “what a shame” fifteen-minute yearning for fame lie deeper issues.

Is it possible that these children cannot find a better way of using their talents? If they love to dance so much, how about their organising dance-based fund-raising activities? Rope in some wannabe models and singers, and Bob’s your uncle. I am sure some NGO would back their efforts – if they could find the time to organize their thoughts – and their wardrobes.

My eye was caught by the fact that they had been paid (or rather, given a tip, considering the paltry amount) €10, for frolicking and prancing about in beachwear. Their payment would not even by them a decent – and I use the term judiciously – bikini. So somewhere along the line, I will have to believe that they do not do it for the money.

To call these dancers “erotic” is to make fun of them – I would prefer to call them a pedophile’s wet dream. And let’s not talk about married men who insist that variety is the spice of life to excuse their constant (not seven-year) itches.

But, alas, these girls too immature to realise that they are merely setting themselves up as such. To them, it is ‘fun’. And perhaps, mud-in-the-eye of their fuddy-duddy friends who are not into risqué behaviour.

We have been told that the children’s parents are their ‘friends’ on social sites. This assumes that the parents know about the behaviors, and possibly approve of the fact that their children are getting, if not fame and fortune, at least notoriety and pocket-money.

But wait – does not the fact that money has changed hands constitute “child labour”? I am under the impression that a teen cannot even receive money I she baby-sits the children of a neighbour; how does this, therefore, square up?

Deutschmarks or dollars; American Express will do nicely, thank you…
Tell me, do you wanna see me do the shimmy again?… And any old music will do… All the men come in these places…And the men are all the same…

So sings Tina Turner. And this might explain why all the dancers were girls. They usually are, except in certain dives.

Ironically, one of the dancers was saying that like Greta Garbo, she and all teens want to be left alone – and then, they go and show off. This is illogical.

It has been said that the Police and the Children’s Commissioner is “investigating” this. The parents of babies, toddlers, tweens and teens do not want investigations – we want action.

I have seen enough drunken children in Paceville, despite the ‘prohibitions’. There are enough teen pregnancies, despite the ‘sex education’ lessons. I have seen more than enough children puffing away in the street, despite the ‘awareness campaigns’.

With role models such as Rihanna and Lady (!) Gaga, children are wont to push the boundaries of what is accepted by society. They say that “everybody does it”; but peer pressure works in positive mode too.

If the dominant girl in the peer group takes it into her mind that they will henceforth go jogging, her followers could well agree. In any case, if state school grounds were open after hours, they would even have a place to congregate without risking future repercussions from potential employers who run internet searches on job applicants.

If one bossy girl commands her troop to wear jeans and a t-shirt, and hie off to an old people’s home to perform Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, they will toe her line. Eventually.

However – I will have to add that this requires dedication and rehearsals. It is much easier to grab some underwear and improvise, is it not?

Because, inter alia, mindless gamboling in non-restrictive clothing this is easier to fit in with studies and home life than something that requires assiduity. And ‘instant recognition’ of people in the street tends to be inebriating to someone who is too young to cope with its ramifications.

And…any excuse is better than none.

Baby’s First Christmas

Monday, December 7, 2009, 01:29 by Tanja Cilia

No mention of post-partum depression or the traditional emotional tug-of-war Maltese families are wont to play when there is a new baby in the family.
In fact, a new baby can be the reason, and the excuse, to miss out on the calorie-laden excesses that are an integral part of the festivities. However, such an innocent gesture could easily be misconstrued by otherwise well-meaning maiden aunts whose sole purpose in life is to spoil rotten any new baby in the family.
You don’t have to grit your teeth as he’s passed around like a tube of Pringles. He’s your child; so take a stand and say something on the lines of “I would rather you didn’t kiss the baby’s face or put his hands in your mouth, please…” Be warned that you thus risk being cut off without a penny from the Last Will and Testament of all those present.
The mother of a firstborn – never mind that she could have worked in a nursery or taken care of young siblings or cousins for years – is usually he recipient of unwarranted advice from others who have been there, done that, before her. Not all babies take to the sudden increase in noise, smells, and other incommodious issues when several people are gathered in one place at the same time.
Most babies end up crying; and this creates yet another vicious circle. If the mother does not appear flustered, well, then, she is uncaring. If she does, well, then, she is not a good mother because she does not know how to take care of the poor defenceless infant – who is in fact crying just to indicate that he is not poor and defenceless.
So it’s not a matter of people “competing” to see who can stop the bawling; one person can probably manage to do this without interference, as she probably does when she is at home and there is no one to interfere.
The magic word is “change”.
1. Obviously, the first thing this word brings to mind is “nappy”; a child who is uncomfortable will cry in order to draw your attention to this.
2. The rest follows automatically – you need to “change” what a baby has been feeling, seeing, hearing, tasting, smelling and experiencing in order to “change” his attitude.
3. Try feeding the baby. If he is being breastfed, and you feel uncomfortable doing this in front of certain people, ask for privacy. Be confident in your choice – do not allow anyone to tell you that he is “too old for that now” or that you “should give him some water” or “teach him to wait” or “switch to a bottle”.
4. The baby might be feeling too hot; remember that in a closed room, with several people present (and perhaps a fireplace or the central heating turned up) the temperature will rise.
5. It is always advisable to dress a child in layers of clothing to remove or add as necessary, rather than having a fur-lined all-in-one over a baby-grow.
6. Sometimes, babies benefit from having their face wiped with a cold flannel; sometimes, all they need is someone to give them undivided attention. Strangers putting their face close to his will frightened a baby and make him feel powerless. Some children take late to socialising, and some simply hate a change in their routine.
7. A child, placed in a carrier or chair for long periods while the adults chat and eat, is bound to become irritable – and if he has needs to be burped, this will make him even more uncomfortable.
8. Do the opposite of what would have been the baby’s experience when he began crying; inside/outside; light/dark; noise/silence; immobility/movement – and vice versa. Some babies get tetchy when they want to sleep; others cry when they need stimulation.
9. Never, but never, dip a soother in anything other than water. If the baby is teething, do not allow anyone to give him anything from which bits might break off and choke him.