Happy, Ever After

 

 

I am – I was – an Eastern European mail order bride. Estonian, to be precise.

 

There, that got your attention, didn’t it?

 

Well, all right – I’ll admit I met my husband through Facebook… which is more prosaic but equally true.

 

I’m Eliisabet; Liisi for short. I speak Maltese like a native – but my naturally platinum blond hair gives my foreignness away… although some people assume that I dye it because… since I live alone in Qawra, I “must be a prostitute”.

 

These charming people also assume I am a godless whore. Actually, I am – I was – Greek Orthodox, but I lapsed. My neighbours get on my nerves, so I keep myself to myself… and add fuel to their fires.

 

Out of the corner of my eye I see twitching curtains and moving venetian blinds. I note the intake of breaths when I walk into the corner shop to ask for stuff in a Senglea accent. You can’t blame me. I lived there for ten years, and my then husband insisted I learn and speak the vernacular, because his mother did not understand English, go figure Estonian.

 

In the end, it was the possessiveness of his mother that led me to leave him. I was bent double with pain because of what later turned out to be a ruptured appendix – and he was on the phone with her, and kept pushing me away when I was frantically showing him a note on which I had written Hospital! Then, when he rang off, he grabbed me by the arm and dragged me to the car, all the while saying that I knew his mother came first, and that I was cheeky to dare interrupt his conversation with her.

 

He dared me to leave him, saying that I was a stupid dunce who would never manage to find a job.

 

So I left him, and hid in my sister-in-law’s summer flat for a couple of days (she is the only one who ever gave me the time of day). I went job- and house-hunting, and landed both within the week…perhaps because my sister-in-law and her friends prayed over me – perhaps not.

 

As soon as I moved into the spartanly-furnished studio flat, Iona did a whip-around among her friends and got me some flatware, cutlery, bedding, curtains, books, an ancient fan, an old radio and an even older television set – and even some knick-knacks to make the place more welcoming. The rent was low, so I did not complain to the landlord about there being only the bare necessities.

 

And then, it began.

 

The key would jam in the lock, and when I opened the door, I would hear footsteps sprinting toward the veranda. The curtain would move slightly, and then…nothing. I always kept the entrance and balcony doors locked, so nobody could have come in from either of them.

 

I would smell cinnamon and cloves. The next day it would be lavender. The day after it would be tea rose.

 

Clothes I’d left on the lines in the veranda would be folded neatly, and the breakfast mug and fruit salad bowl I’d have rinsed out and placed on the draining board would have been dried and put away in the hanging cupboard.

 

Once or twice, the kettle was actually whistling when I managed to open the door – but it would stop as soon as I moved toward the kitchen.

 

Iona got me new curtains, courtesy of the charity shop. I was too tired to hang them up – yet sure enough, when I got back home from work on the morrow, each pair was just where I had intended to hang them. Moreover, there was a tiny glass Christmas Tree ornament that had not been there before, on the desk beside my laptop, where I couldn’t fail to notice it.

 

Once, one of my male work colleagues called with a Care Package. He said he was feeling hot and bothered, and I thought it was an excuse for him to get his togs off. I switched on the fan, and opened the window to let the breeze in – and yet he sweated profusely, still. He kept putting his index finger between his shirt collar and neck, and moving it backward and forward.

 

That was weird. Iona used to say my place felt like a second home. At one point, he gulped down his glass of orange juice, and said he had to leave.

 

I knew at that moment that this had to stop. I knew I was sharing the flat with a spirit being; but as long as I felt comfortable, I did not mind. But what if ‘something’, anything, happened to any of my guests when this entity did not take a shine to them?

 

Mulling over what I could do, I risked losing my sanity – or what there was left of it. Because meanwhile my husband had traced me, and told me I’d better get back home…or else. I countered by filing for legal separation, with a view to applying for divorce later. He didn’t like that at all.

 

In the end, I wrote a letter thanking my unseen friend for the kindness shown to me, and asking whether I could do anything to help with the “eternal rest” clause. I left the letter face up on my bed, and on my return home, I found it on the kitchen table. So I knew it had been read. There was no reply, written or otherwise.

 

I was at the office when the phone-call came. My husband had been to my flat, kicked in the door, and thrashed the place. He even ground the glass Christmas Tree into the kitchen mat. The neighbours of the flat below assumed he was fighting with me, because they heard “voices” shouting; one male, one female.

 

Then, they heard a thud just outside their door, and when they opened it, they saw my husband lying there in a pool of blood, with his skull caved in and his neck broken. I had a clutch of alibis; and so

the verdict was “accidental death caused by a fall”.

 

Nobody else ever came to do my housework again, and yet there is an all-pervading sense of peace in the flat, about which everyone comments.

 

Just the other day, I discovered that a Maltese woman had been murdered here by her German husband…

 

 

Abjad jew Iswed… mhux Griż!

Leħen Is-Sewwa 02/08/2014

 

Galaxy

Mela darba, kien hemm skultur Ċiprijott jismu Pygmalion. Fettillu jonqox statwa tal-avorju ta’ mara li iżjed tard, issemmiet Galatea. Ġara li ffissa fuq l-istatwa u xtaq li kieku kellu mara eżatt bħalha. Din hi storja tal-Mitoloġija Griega, u hi ħaġa minn awl il-dinja li Ovid, fix-xogħol tiegħu Metamorfosi, jgħid kif l-alla Afrodite għamlet li l-istatwa ssir tad-demm u l-laħam.

Mela dak l-iskultur fil-veru sens tal-kelma kellu mara mhux talli eżatt kif xtaqha talli eżatt kif riedha u kif ħoloqha. Fil-letteratura nsibu eluf ta’ stejjer fejn il-mara takkomoda lir-raġel, jew għax tħobbu, jew biex ma titilfux.

X’inhu li jagħmel relazzjoni waħda tajba u dejjiema?

Qamet polemika dwar il-film imsejjes fuq il-kotba Fifty Shades of Grey. Uħud qed jgħidu li se jkun suċċess, filwaqt li oħrajn qed iħeġġu li jsir bojkott tal-fim għax mhux aċċettabbli. Il-ħelwa hi li hawn min qed jinsisti li dan hu biss fantasija, u li ma fiha xejn billi wieħed iqatta’ nofs siegħa (anzi iżjed) f’dinja tal-ħolm. U hawn, is-surrealiżmu tal-kummenti tikber, “għax films hekk jgħinuk tibni relazzjoni”. Il-kotba ma qrajthomx, imma qaluli li allaħares kellhom jiġu taħt idejja biex indurhom għall-qari tal-provi u l-editjar, għax kieku ntertaqhom.

U allura x’fihom dawn il-kotba u l-film pornografiċi u kontroversjali? Dorothy Pilarski, kittieba u ġurnalista mal-Catholic Register, u xandara fuq Radio Maria [Amerika], tkellmet sew fuq dan is-suġġett, iżda ħegget li jsir bojkot.

Li tgħid lin-nies biex jibbojkottjaw il-film ma taħdimx. Min ma kienx sejjer jarah xorta ma jmurx; u min kien sejjer ma jkunx jimpurtah mill-bojkott. U hawn Mata m’aħniex imdorrijin induru bit-tabelli madwar it-teatri biex inwissu li xi film hu oxxen.

  1. F’films bħal dan, is-sesswalità ma tibqax rigal mingħand Alla, iżda ssir arma mistmella f’idejn dak li għandu poter fuq il-mara; u dak li hu pervers jintwera bħala normali, jekk mhux ukoll ta’ gost.
  2. Films bħal dan jagħtu l-idea li dak meqjus normali hu ta’ dwejjaq jew ikrah, u wkoll jirridikolaw l-intimità u l-iskop tal-att konjugali. Filwaqt li l-assoċjazzjonijiet tal-psikjatri jiddikjaraw li xi azzjonijiet huma “mard psikotiku”, f’dawn il-films ma jitqisux hekk.
  3. Il-film jagħmel il-mara agħar minn biċċa laħam; l-umiljazzjoni qatt mhi sabiħa. Qatt m’hemm xejn “sabiħ” fil-kattiverja u fil-vjolenza, la fil-kamp tal-battalja, la fuq il-lant tax-xogħol, u wisq inqas fil-kamra tas-sodda.
  4. Il-pornografija tkisser il-familji. Aħseb u ara meta magħħa żżid il-vjolenza. La ddaħħalx lifgħat f’ħobbok.
  5. Is-sess qabel iż-żwieġ mhux romantiku, iżda ħażin.
  6. Jekk int ġenitur, qed tagħti eżempju hażin ferm lit-tfal.
  7. Jekk tiftiehem ma’ martek jew ma żewġek, jew ma’ sħabek, biex tmorru flimkien “għall-kurżità”, tkunu ressaqtu lilkom infuskom lejn il-ħażen, meta int suppost tkun dawl għall-passi ta’ dawn in-nies.
  8. Meta tara l-oxxenità sseħħ quddiem għajnejk, tkun poġgejt lilek innifsek f’okkażjoni dijabolika u ta’ dnub, li bħala Nisrani suppost li qed taħarbu.
  9. Meta tisma’ kliem ħażin iżarżru f’widnejk waħda wara l-oħra, bla ma trid tiftakarhom… u forsi tużahom ukoll.
  10. Raġel li jixtieq juża u jabbuża minn mara, xorta jkun qed jagħmel delitt, allavolja wara forsi jiksiha bid-deheb. Billi tikkollabora ma’ raġel vjolenti, ma tkunx sirt daqsu, iżda ssir tapit tiegħu.
  11. Tingħata l-idea li s-sess huwa ġugarell li tużah kif u meta trid, flok li hu xi ħaġa qaddisa.
  12. Tinsiex li jekk tmur tara film bħal dan, tkun qed issostni l-magna tal-ħniżrijiet li jsiru biss biex jimlew il-bwiet ta’ min jagħmilhom.

Tħallix lil min ibellgħek ir-ross bil-labra!

Flying Dove

IN THE TIME of K’ang Hsi, one of the early Ch’ing Emperors, in the quiet village of Wanhsien, lived a charming little girl whose name translates as Flying Dove.

She was a lonely little girl, because, since she walked with a limp, none of her peers wanted to play with her because she could not run fast enough to keep up with them.

So one lovely spring day, Flying Dove decided to start making herself useful by going to the river to fetch water for all those people in the village who had no one else to do it for them. She was going to start doing this by means of two large clay urns hung at either end of a yoke she would carry on her shoulders.

Flying Dove’s family was very poor, and so her parents appreciated the fact that sometimes, the people whom she helped used to give her a piece of fruit, or a handful of rice, or an egg, in order to thank her for her aid.

One of Flying Dove’s jars had a tiny, hairline crack down the side; but there was nothing she could do about it, because her family could not affords to get it mended. So she always lost some of the water on her way back, because since she limped, and the water was heavy, it took her a long time to return to her village. But nobody minded, just as long as they had enough water in which to cook.

With her conical hat pulled well down in order to protect her from the sun, Flying Dive made the journey to the river and back about five times a day. Everybody was amazed that such a frail-looking girl had such stamina.

When the next spring came around, Flying Dove realised that something beautiful had happened.

On the left side of the path leading towards her village from the river, there was a profusion of flowers in all the colours of the rainbow. Breathless, she hurried home to tell; her mother about the beautiful sight.

Her mother, usually such a sad person, clapped her hands with joy for the first time in years, and all the people in the village came out of their homes to see what the matter was.

They all went to see the miracle that had happened on the track; and then the wise man of the village explained to them that the dribbles from the cracked clay pot had watered the ground and caused the seeds to sprout.

What’s more, he said, he had realised that Flying Dove, because of all that exercise, no longer walked with a limp; her own kindness had caused her to cure herself.

However, although she could now run even faster than the other children, she did not waste time playing; instead, she encouraged them to be like her, ever helpful to others. Soon afterwards, the villagers had only to scratch the ideographs for their names on their water jars, and leave them outside the house; laughing, happy, united band of children used to leave for the river in along procession to fill them up, without even once complaining…. And all with a “spring” in their step…

Behind the name: David

Image result for saint david

Who is Saint David?

Many people think that the daffodil is a flower that “for some reason” must be worn on the first of March. The reality is rather different.

The story is told that during a battle between the Welsh and the Saxons, it was difficult to tell from the clothes, or from the physiognomies of the fighters, who was friend or foe. The Saxons were counting on this, and they were actually gaining ground.

So David, who was a Monk, bent down and plucked the plant that was closest it happened to be a leek. He told his fellow countrymen, the Welsh, to wear a leek in their helmets so that it distinguish them from their enemies. It was a typical “lateral thinking” idea; a tiny one that made all the difference. The fact that he was a Man of The Cloth meant that the soldiers obeyed him, no questions asked.

Did this really happen? No one will ever know but it may well have.
These days, on Saint David’s Day (Dydd Gyl) March 1 the day of his death, which is celebrated both as a patriotic and cultural festival by the Welsh around the world, and not only in Wales, people wear the stalk, flower or a bit of leaf from a leek plant. It is not a moveable feast. However, 2006 was an exception: the feast was officially celebrated on February 28 by Roman Catholics and on March 2 by the Anglican Church in Wales, since ‘ days are not celebrated on As Wednesday, a day of penitence and fasting.
Saint David died in 589AD (some references give the date as 601AD). The reasons that a daffodil is used sometimes instead is because in March, these flowers (which are similar to those of the leek) are easier to find then leeks and anyway they smell slightly less pungent. However more importantly, one notes that the relationship between leeks and daffodils goes beyond mere similarity; they have like names in Welsh, Cenhinen (leek) and Cenhinen Bedr (daffodil, literally “Peter’s leek”). The date was declared a national day of celebration in the 18th century.
Women and girls wear Welsh costumes. This costume consists of a long woollen skirt, white blouse, woollen shawl and a typical Welsh hat.. on the Menu is, of course leek soup.
The story of Saint David is a very interesting one. It is also said of him that he once raised a youth from the dead. There were several occasions when, it is said, upon his passing, springs of water used to flow along previously arid ground.
But that is not why he gained the name Aquaticus. He and the monks of his Order, based at Glyn Rhosyn (St David’s), in south-westWales, were supposed to have drunk only water, and their Rule included hard work, study, and worship. They were also vegetarian.

They wore animal skins, and worked in the fields without oxen; “every man his own ox”. David made speaking severely restricted. Monks were to pray, silently if not aloud, at all times. After supper, the only meal of the day, they prayed for three hours before going to bed, then awoke at dawn.

He is said to have founded ten or twelve monasteries, including the famous Glastonbury (he was the first to build a chancel to Saint Joseph of Arimathea’s wattle church), Menevia and Croyland. The first hagiography-cum-biography of him was written by a son of Sulien, bishop of St. David’s, who was called Rhigyfarch, towards the end of the 11th century. This Welsh monk wrote Vita Davidis around 1094, five centuries after David’s death.
He is buried in St David’s Cathedral, Pembrokeshire. Pope Calictus II decreed to Medieval pilgrims that two pilgrimages to St David’s sufficed one pilgrimage to Rome, and three pilgrimages to St David’s equalled one to Jerusalem.
He is said to have been born around 520AD, near the town that today is of course called Saint David’s. His mother was called Non. She is also known as Saint Nonna, and may have been the granddaughter of king Brychan. She was living as a nun when she was raped by a Sant (or Xantus) his father, who was enthralled by her beauty. So David spent his early childhood in her convent, at Ty Gwyn, near Whitesand Bay. Non is the patron Saint of the sexually assaulted. Her feast Day is March 3. Some traditions hold that Non and Sant were married, and that she only became a nun when he died.
David’s father was the son of Ceredig, King of Ceredigion. David was educated in Cardiganshire, and later went on a pilgrimage through south Wales and the west of England.
During the Synod of Llanddewi Brefi, held in the village of the same name, when he stood up to speak, one of the men in the milling crowd was heard to exclaim “But we won’t be able to see or hear him!” whereupon the patch of ground upon which he was standing became a tiny hillock, so that everyone could do so properly. A white dove came to sit on his shoulder (some say at his feet).To this day, Holy Pictures depict him in this stance; preaching on a hill, with long hair and a beard, and the dove perched on his shoulder, holding a miniature cathedral in one hand and a leek in the other.
On that occasion, he was unanimously elected primate of the Cambrian church, when the incumbent primate, Dubricius, resigned in his favour.
When he later went on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, after a vision. He is said to have travelled with two companions, and the patriarch of Jerusalem, John III, consecrated him Archbishop.
The Welsh take Saint David’s Day very seriously; a poll conducted by the BBC for Saint David’s Day in 2006 found that 87% of the Welsh wanted this feast day to be declared a Bank Holiday, and 65% of those polled were even prepared to sacrifice a different bank holiday to ensure this. There are many variants of the name Daviod, some of these are: Daffy, Daffyd, Dafydd, Dai, Daid, Dave, Daven, Davey, Davi, Davidde, Davide, Davidson, Davie, Daviel, Davies, Davin, Davis, Davon, Davvy, Davy, Davyd, Davydd, Davyn, Degui, Dewi, Dewid, Dewm, Dmui, and Taffy

Children take part in school concerts going by the generic name eisteddfodau. This is the plural form of eisteddfod, the umbrella term for a festival comprising literature, music, song, drama and other performances. The term derives from eistedd, “to sit”. This tradition dates back to at least the 12th century, to a poetry and music celebration held by Rhys ap Gruffydd of Deheubarth at his court in Cardigan in 1176. There was a time when this meant a half-day of school for children across the land; nowadays the custom varies according to the instructions set out by each school’s administration. Just for the day, girls are allowed to wear National Costume.
St. David is the only Welsh saint to be canonized in the Western Church to date, and he has been the patron saint of Wales since the 12th century. In South Wales there are more than fifty churches dedicated to him.
Highlights of his life include:
His birth was foretold to Saint Patrick (about 373-464) by an angel 30 years in advance.
An angel appeared to David’s father and told him that when he went hunting the next day, he would kill a stag and find a fish, and a beehive. The stag, said to eat snakes, represents Christianity’s conquering Satan (the serpent); the fish represents Saint David’s abstinence from alcohol; and the bees represent wisdom and spirituality.
He was born during a storm that was so violent that a local ruler who planned to kill Saint David was afraid to make the journey to the place, overlooking Saint Bride’s Bay, south of today’s Saint David’s Cathedral.
David was baptized at Porth Clais by Saint Ailbhe, who may have been Non’s nephew.
He is said to be King Arthur’s Uncle.
Movi, the blind monk holding David, had his sight restored as soon as the baby was baptised.
He went to school at a monastery called Hen Vynyw, or Henfynyw, in Cardigan.
One story tells how a golden dove was seen flying, with its beak to David’s lips, teaching him the Psalms.
In Welsh he is known as ‘Dewi Ddyfrwr’ (David the Water Drinker).
He was ordained a priest after studying under the Welsh scribe St Paulinus, a disciple of St Germanus of Auxerre, who was also the mentor of the Irish Saint Patrick.

There is a similar legend concerning that of Movi concerning Saint Paulinus, who had been blinded after crying for a long time; David touched his eyes gently and he could see again.
David’s association with water is further indicated when it is said he cleansed the foetid water at Bath and turned it into warm, healing liquid.
David presided over two synods.
He is said to have fasted, drinking only water, for several days, very often.
Out of jealousy, some monks tried to poison Saint David’s bread, but Saint Schuthyn rode out from Ireland on the back of a sea monster to warn him, and Saint David blessed the bread, counteracting the poison.
He made his monks pray from evening on Friday until dawn on Sunday, with only an hour after Saturday Matins for rest.
He ordained that anyone wishing to join his Order had to wait outside for ten, in harsh and dire conditions, “so that he might learn to die to himself”. In fact, to say “my book” was considered an offence.
He devoted himself to works of mercy and practised frequent genuflexions. One of his self-inflicted penances was immersion in cold water up to his neck, during which period he recited scripture.
He is the Patron saint of doves, poets, and Wales.
Collaborated with Saint Columba, Saint Gildas, and Saint Finnegan.
He was active in fighting against the Pelagian heresy (Pelagius was a British holy leader who denied the Catholic doctrine of original sin and was declared a heretic and excommunicated in 417 by Pope Innocent I).
He remained at Menevia until his death.
Pope Callixtus II canonised David as a Saint in 1120
Saint David is mentioned in an Irish Catalogue of the Saints of 730, and an Irish Martyrology of 800.
The Flag of Saint David is black with a yellow cross.

Don’t Quota Me!

http://patrickattard.blogspot.com/2012/11/times-dont-quota-me.html

http://www.timesofmalta.com/articles/view/20121123/blogs/don-t-quota-me.446598
Friday, November 23, 2012, 16:39 by Tanja Cilia

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Tulsi Gabbard Tamayo is an Iraq War veteran, and, incidentally, America’s first Hindu Congresswoman on the Democratic ticket. Her Oath of Office, come January 3, will be the first ever to be administered over the Bhagavad Gita. Her father is Hawaii State Senator Mike Gabbard. Aged 23, she was the state’s first elected official who resigned voluntarily to go to war.

Tammy Baldwin is Wisconsin first openly lesbian Senator, which is ironic, considering that the state gave a 59 per cent yes vote to a 2006 homosexual marriage ban. She is one of four openly homosexual House members of the 112 U.S. Congress, the other three being fellow Democrats Jared Polis of Colorado, Barney Frank of Massachusetts, and David Cicilline of Rhode Island.

Ladda Tammy Duckworth lost both legs and severely damaged her right arm when serving in the U.S. Army as the UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter pilot in the Iraq War, when a rocket-propelled grenade struck the cockpit of her helicopter and exploded. She is the first Thai-American elected to Congress in Illinois’ 8th congressional district, defeating incumbent Joe Walsh.

Mazie Hirono, who has represented Hawaii’s 2nd district in Congress since 2007, was elected to represent Hawaii in the U.S. Senate. She was born in Japan, immigrating to Hawaii with her family as a child. Hirono defeated Republican Linda Lingle 62 per cent to 37 per cent. She was raised in the Jodo Shinshu tradition, and is one of the two Buddhists to be elected to the House of Representatives; Hank Johnson of Georgia is the other one.

These four women ran the race to be the change as well as to make it, and not just because there were not a part of the “angry white male machine.”

I am assuming they did not fill in application forms that said, in part, Positive Discrimination! Female Minority Candidates Wanted: Non-Caucasian, LGBT, Congenital or Acquired Disabilities…

And yet, Duckworth, who would have qualified for the above on two counts, was disparaged by her opponent, Rep. Joe Walsh, as a “…female, wounded veteran…ehhhh. She is nothing more than a handpicked Washington bureaucrat…” Duckworth herself has said of the incident, “I hope this is the worst thing that happens to anyone in the 106th during this deployment. This is not so bad. There is always somebody worse off than you are. I’m just glad it was me and not one of my guys out there.”

I suppose Walsh found other words with which to denigrate those women of the 19 per cent in Congress who do not happen to share his political views; unless he regretted venting his spleen, if only for the way his malevolence backfired. In all, 20 women have seats in the American Senate. But of course, for many, it is nowhere near enough.

In Malta, we don’t really have a pool of foreigners, persons with disabilities, or other representatives of minorities who are ready to sacrifice themselves on the altar of politics as they do in the USA.

Ironically, a woman who decides to compete “with the men” does so on the platform that she is “like all women” and, presumably, therefore, understands our wants and needs. They tell us that it’s time that women being voting for women – rather as if they know what we do, or don’t.

They mention buzzwords such as glass ceilings while daring us to ask them about role reversal and who does the school run in the morning, and chide us for being complacent (i.e. not like them).

We all know that if women had to run Parliament, or at least be there on parity with men, there would be flexi-time, job-sharing, and teleworking as a matter of course. More money would be voted for healthcare, education, and eradication of poverty. Is this a sexist comment?

Alas, the much-vaunted “quotas” and “positive discrimination” will never give us a Rwanda-like legislature, which is 56.3 per cent female, or one akin to that of Andorra, which is 53.6 per cent female, or even like that of Sweden, at 45 per cent female.

A quota is not positive discrimination; it’s crumbs for the dogs, off the table of a rich man. Why should a man who is more competent than a woman be ousted, so false justice may be seen to have been done through an arbitrary system?

We are told to celebrate the differences between men and women, and in the same breath, it is pointed out to us that these differences must be redressed by (presumably) employing women who are less qualified then men, in order to “make up numbers”.

Dozens of papers – some with titles just this side of eccentricity – purport to explain why despite this so-called enlightenment, bias still exists against the distaff side.

We have The Portia Hypothesis, a study by Bentley Coffey (Clemson University, Department of Economics) and Patrick McLaughlin (George Mason University, Mercatus Center), which claims that female lawyers with masculine-sounding first names have better odds of becoming judges than colleagues with feminine names…at least in South Carolina.

We read about symphony orchestras that have adopted “blind” audition procedures where candidates perform behind a screen to conceal their gender. This, parenthetically, has led to more women being assumed.

Viviane Reding, the EU Justice Commissioner, had mooted a “gender quota”, wherein all publicly listed companies are to have at least 40 per cent of their boards composed of women by 2050. She said nothing about shop floors and minor staff. Would Reding be offended if anyone suggested she is where she is, because of a decree like the one she would like to see enacted?

Whatever happened to meritocracy?

Glass Works

http://prayables.com/prayer-blogs/prayables-team-blog/844-glass-works

At the corner of our dining room stood a Murano glass lamp-stand. Its intricate glass flowers and leaves were dull and opaque with dust, and its brass base had long lost its lustre.

My excuse was that the smell of metal polish gets up my nose and gives me a migraine.

It had been a wedding gift to my parents in the early 1950’s; one of those intricate, fragile jigsaw puzzles that need to be taken apart to be cleaned.

I was idly zapping across television channels when a documentary caught my attention. There, centre stage, was a floor lamp exactly like ours. A gaffer was then shown using a blowpipe to inflate a blob of molten glass into a parison (a glass bubble).

The globular shape was then revolved at the end of the pipe while finishing touches were added to it. Very soon it had cooled into one of the many sections rather like large fragile beads of a necklace, that are threaded through the central pole of the lamp.

The leaves and flowers were made differently. Gobbets of semi-molten glass were flattened, elongated, shaped with tong-like shears, and given the characteristic half-twist. Each was placed alongside a model on the workbench and measured for accuracy.

Leaves and flowers must be of a standard size. This makes a lamp that it a work of art and not a raggedy mix-and-match affair. It is also a practical measure, since if they were not of the same size, the leaves and flowers would not sit properly in their sockets. As I watched the whole process, fascinated, I couldn’t help glancing at the forsaken relative of the lamp on the television screen out of the corner of my eye.

Sometimes, our realities and what the media shows as such are two very different things. We may hanker after jewellery, vehicles, furniture, clothes, or other possessions, not realizing that what we hold in our hands – the values of family, life, compassion, and love – are nicer, more important, and more precious than any gilded lilies dangled before our eyes to tempt us. It is so much wiser to want what we have, than to have what we want.

In the corner of our dining room stands a stunning hand-crafted Murano lamp-stand. The transparent, pink-tipped flowers and leaves now glisten with cleanliness and care, and the brass base has regained its burnished patina.

And I’m not worried, my headache will subside.

Prism Reflections

Refractions of light from a prism:
a heterogeneous, multi-faceted rainbow,
splitting the spectrum.
Transparency separating the light
into its component elements.
It’s not the brightest, fastest, or keenest ray
that makes the enchantment happen,
but it strikes the right place at the right time.
Help me be a prism to my companions;
to help them discern what is vital,
but mostly to help them focus on what’s essential.

Tanja Cilia

It-Tqarbin: Dmir, mhux Drawwa

 

Dari, waqt it-tqarbin, kien ikun hemm abbati ħdejn il-qassis. Dan kien iżomm patena taħt il-geddum ta’ min ikun qed jitqarben, biex jekk l-Ostja taqa’, tiġi fiha.  Meta daħal it-tqarbin fl-idejn, ma baqax l-uża tal-patena, u tneħħiet.

Biss, min jara l-filmati tat-tqarbin f’Lourdes, u f’Fatima, u santwarji oħra, jinduna li ħdejn il-qassis, dejjem ikun hemm xi ħadd wieqaf. Dan jiġri biex jekk ikun hemm xi ħadd li ma jirċevix l-Ostja mill-ewwel, jiġbdulu l-attenzjoni, u fis jitqarben. B’hekk hemm inqas ċans li jsir l-abbuż.

Konna qed nitkellmu dwar dan, u ndunajna li hemm ħafna affarijiet li jiġru waqt it-tqarbin li jkun wisq aħjar li kieku ma jsirux.  Forsi wasal iż-żmien li nibdew nifhmu sew xi tfisser dik is-sentenza li kienu jgħidulna meta konna żgħarr: “Kull darba li nitqarbnu, għandna nġibu ruħna b’devozzjoni daqs li kieku din kienet ser tkun l-uniku tqarbina tal-ħajja tagħna.”

  1. Flipflops u xorts  mhux talli ma jnisslux devozzjoni, talli anqas imissek tilbishom għall-knisja. U jekk tkun liebsa sandli jew karkur… tkaxkarx.
  2. Ieqaf kanta ftit qabel ma jmissek – mhux sinjal ta’ devozzjoni li tgħajjat f’wiċċ is-saċerdot jew il-Ministru Straordinarju.
  3. Int u  nieżel mit-tqarbin, toqgħodx tħares ‘l hawn u ‘l hinn, u inqas u inqas, issellimx li dik u lil dak, qisek l-Onorevoli tar-raħal.
  4. Jekk bi ħsiebek ittella’ l-basket jew il-ktieb tal-kant miegħek, għamilhom taħt abtek ftit qabel ma jmissek li titqarben, biex ma tohloqx waqfa.
  5. Jekk int iffissata li trid titqarben l-ewwel, jew l-aħħar, għamel hekk bi-dekorum; tersaqx lejn l-artal bil-ġiri jew bil-lajma.
  6. Jekk int ikollok bżonn tagħti xi ħaga lil xi ħadd, ara kif tagħmel u u asal il-Knisja ftit qabel, jew ħu paċenzja u stenna’ sa wara li tispiċċa l-Quddiesa – ittellax basktijiet jew pakketti miegħek biex tgħaddihom waqt it-tqarbin.
  7. Jekk ma tirdx titqarben mingħand Ministru tat-Tqarbin, mela oqgħod fin-naħa ta’ fejn soltu jqarben is-Sacerdot, biex ma tgħaddix minn-nofs tas-serbut u tgerfex lil kulħadd.
  8. Jekk tinduna f’daqqa waħda li għaddiet is-siegħa tas-sawma, u għaldaqstant ser titqarben, xorta m’ghandekx tmur tigri lejn l-artal. Tobżax. Jistennewk. U bilħaqq – m’għandek għalfejn tgħajjat biex tiġbdilhom l-attenzjoni, għax dejjem iħarsu ‘l fuq.
  9. L-ilbiesi biċ-ċingi li fuqhom trid tilbes xalla, ser taqa u ma taqax, ilbishom meta tkun ser tmur xi Coffee Morning. Għall-knisja, l-iżjed jekk ser titqarben, arma blaws b’komm ċkejkna.
  10. M’hemmx lok li taqbad l-Ostja u trodd is-Salib biha minn  tulek, qabel ma titqarben.
  11. Meta tagħmel riverenza quddiem il-qassis, u ta’ warajk ma jkunx ippreparat, ser tkun ta’ xkiel.
  12. Mhux suppost li l-Ostja tittieħed fil-post ta’ fejn tkun qed tisma’ l-Quddies qabel ma tittieħed.
  13. Sakemm tila’ titqarben, toqgħodx tilgħab b’xagħrek jew biċ-ċrieket.
  14. Tagħmilx parlata ma’ ta’ quddiemek jew ta’ warajk; stenna’ sakemm tispicca l-Quddiesa, u l-innu, u toħorġu barra.

Tkun ħaġa sabiħa kieku waqt it-tqarbin kulħadd ikun moħħu hemm, biex ħadd ma jtellef lil ħaddiehor.

Death Watch

(Another memory, and another reminder)

I had written two posts mentioning suicide.

I had hoped never to write another one.

But the recent sorry excuse for reportage – a pathetic hotchpotch of biased comments with concerted, subtle, yet vicious splotches of slut-shaming and vindictive, malicious comments and misinformation following articles, allowed to stand by newspaper editors who ought to know better,  has put paid to that hope.

I may be wrong, but it seems to me that some murders and suicides that happen locally get more column space and extensive audio-visual media coverage than others. As a corollary, there is a national discussion by self-styled experts about whys and wherefores.

The media relies on the fact that its audience laps up inaccurate, oversimplified and potentially dangerous, sensationalised reports. I was perturbed at the words and out-of-context sound-bites dug out from statements.

In other sections of the press, we are told that bullying leads to suicide. However, nowhere have I seen it stated that mental manipulation, whether or not it is Gaslighting, may lead to a similar end for the victim. Neither have I seen links to helplines, except once, just in case copycat suicides are in the offing.

I am told that ‘journalists’, whatever that term means these days, have to stuck to fact and not offer opinion – that is the domain of bloggers and / or  opinionated bitches like myself, and, apparently,  the people who regularly trawl the virtual news-sites to leave their insidious,  warped points of view for our delectation.

It is not easy to ‘know everything’ about something that happens. And yet, multifaceted issues are fed to us in drips and drabs, in a seemingly logical manner, in a bid to sway our judgements and mould our conclusions to match the agendas of those who have something to hide.

At this point, I have to ask many, many questions.  If you knew your friend was shoplifting or doing drugs, or riding his motorcycle hell for leather without a crash helmet, would you shop him? Or would you not want to get involved, lest you be tarred with the same brush by ‘ignorant adults’?

If you assume it’s just a phase, or that it is not your business… would you, then, hide the fact that he was having sex with minor?  If you thought he was a megalomaniac, or  sociopath, psychopath, or any other kind of –path, whether or not he had a history of underlying mental illness would you seek help, or would you cover for him because “that is what friends do”, while secretly envying his stud-luck with the girls?

Because of course, there is only one thing worse for a girl than to be called a slut – and that’s to be called a prude. Still, alas, when a man and a child have sex, the man gets high-fives, but the girl loses respectability. Even when he, shudder, shock horror, expresses trepidation that he will be branded a paedophile.

If, on the other hand, someone told you that all of the above could precipitate a death because the person involved fell into an “at-risk category”…would you change your mind?   Or would you shrug and say “shit happens?” ignoring the fact that the warning signs were there all the time?

If you had an acquaintance who always seemed sad, would you approach her? Now let’s take this point farther. If you had a friend who self-harmed because she was lonely, and felt excluded, would you ‘do something about it’, or would you assume she was showing off, or worse, that she was ‘in good hands’ because someone else had her back.  Is it really possible for just one person to have anybody’s back, in these circumstances? Nobody in a position to do so has yet explained that suicide is not an automatic response to feelings of rejection, depression, anxiety, despair, and isolation.

The non-sheep of us have been hauled over the coals for pointing out that you do not fall from a height without breaking a limb or four; that you do not even consider the possibility of a suicide attempt failing; that you do not keep a kid out at night of you know she is listed as missing; that sexts of minors constitute child pornography; that a person’s Facebook wall is not usually removed by anyone except himself… and this cannot be done when you do not have access to it.

I chided a journalist for treating the death of Lisa Marie so flippantly and histrionically, and asked him whether he would have extracted the same quotes from a social site, had she been his little sister. He did not reply.

As part of the research for this article, I clicked a random photograph on “See who’s here” on Ask.fm. Just for the record, there is no need to have an account with the site, to do this. The very first, and only, ‘conversation’ I saw was “il-hara kemm nobodok / mur aqbez / omgzz / suwisajd”.

Is it possible that this kind of activity is ‘fun’? Healthy, and psychologically sound, it certainly is not.

Gossip feeds the voracious appetitive of idle minds; note the hullaballoo about L’Wren and Peaches Geldof, which may not, after all, have been a suicide but due to an extreme diet.

This spawns the disgusting phenomenon of writing schlock – in error-riddled English – to attract audiences.

Too Much Information?

(A memory – and a reminder…)

TV 40 news personality Christine Chubbuck shot herself in a live broadcast this morning on a Channel 40 talk program. She was rushed to Sarasota Memorial Hospital, where she remains in critical condition.

The most surreal thing about this July 15, 1974 newscast clip was that it had been written by Chubbuck herself.

The warning signs had all been there; three weeks prior to her demise, she had begun work on a feature programme about suicide. In the course of her research she had discovered the ideal type of bullet, and where to shoot it, courtesy of an officer in the sheriff’s department, which goes contrary to how things are portrayed in CSI-type series.

A definite red flag was flown when she told the night news editor that she had bought the weapon and joshed about using it live. He chided her, but that’s as far as it went. And we all know that when people joke about committing suicide, the chances are that they have been thinking about it.

Meanwhile, the station owner had ostensibly ordained that ‘blood and guts’ were to be the deigning factors of newsworthiness; and one of Chubbuck’s stories was indeed cut to be replaced by coverage of a shoot-out.

On the fateful morning, a videoclip of a shooting at  the Beef and Bottle Restaurant at the Sarasota-Bradenton Airport on U.S. 41 jammed, and Chubbuck attempted to be ad-libbing, as newscasters are wont to do when this sort of incident happens,

In keeping with Channel 40’s policy of bringing you the latest in blood and guts, and in living colour, you are going to see another first; attempted suicide. The technical director faded to black; the camera operator Jean Reed assumed it was an elaborate wind-up.

On the morning of January 22, 1987, Robert Budd Dwyer, a politician from Pennsylvania who insisted until the end that he had been framed on charges of corruption and bribery, also committed suicide on air. It happened during a televised press conference at his office in Harrisburg, the state capital.

On that day, many schools had been closed because of a heavy snowfall; had this not been so, students who had regular access to news broadcasts during school hours would have seen it happen, just as they saw the Space Shuttle Challenger tragedy and the Branch Davidian Siege in Waco, Texas.

All these incidents, and more, have been sued as “teaching materials” in media ethics classes. Indeed, Dwyer’s suicide is cited in a paper about the “ethno-methodological approach to the study of suicide”. In such instances, apparently, not even the most diligent of fingers on the Delay Button would have been able to abort the transmission.

“Severe human error”, however, was cited as the reason why yet another suicide was aired live on Fox News on Friday, September 28.

This happened during coverage of one of those popular (think O. J. Simpson) car chases that are aired live in an effort to skew viewership statistics, and not because they provide useful information.

At one point the suspect opened his vehicle door and leapt out of it, running down a dirt track, and seconds later pulled out a gun. The camera continued rolling, the death was caught live, and Smith,  the Fox News Channel anchor, Shepherd Smith  admitted they had “messed up”.

We all remember the atrocious hounding of Madeline McCann’s parents; how the press couldn’t get enough of “sexy-foxy-Knoxy”; how the press covered Joanna Yeates’ murder; and how some film directors sought to make a quick buck from elements from each story, or portraying separate ones in their celluloid entirety.

And let us not forget that the film Network ends with the narrator stating “This was the story of Howard Beale, the first known instance of a man who was killed because he had lousy ratings.”

The local media, which sometimes seems oblivious to events being played out on the world stage – at least, unless they can be perverted to serve ulterior motives – are also  sometimes all too ready to ride roughshod over good taste and people’s sensibilities. This tends to happen because they want to scoop other media… and they do not realise that the person involved in the incident there are covering could have been themselves, or someone they love.

Live television shows us how some card-carrying journalists are at their best when it comes to scooping their peers.  They forget the rules about vulnerable persons; invasions of privacy; and no close-ups. They diligently research the person’s sexual orientation (Pan-sexual Company Director Guilty of Tax Evasion);  his political affiliations (Conservative MP arrested for sexual cimes);  and his family tree (singer Trisha Dawne’s son commits suicide), in no particular order.

They ask awkward questions, not in the hope of winkling out information hitherto undiscovered by those whose job it is to do so, but to entrench themselves as the oriflammes of incisive, investigative reporting. Some even create re-enactments of crime scenes that are pathetic excuses for spoon-feeding the viewing public what they want us to assume is the truth.

Sometimes, not even a five-minute delay would be sufficient to remove footage I find objectionable… we have seen clips that would be more suited to the crime being committed at the start of almost each Columbo episode, or Cold Case flashbacks.

The latest example of this pathetic ‘live coverage’ we have seen is the hunt for April Jones, who went missing after having been seen getting into the van of a man who has since been named.

Would the cameras have stopped rolling had April been found where the searchers were looking for her? I doubt it.

Meanwhile, journalist Kay Burley, fresh from the “cadaver search dog” gaffe, actually transmitted bad news about April to two of the searchers on rolling live news reportage.

Whether this was her usual ham-fisted coverage, or a calculated stratagem for viewers to catch the reaction of the volunteers, is anybody’s guess.

Is this what makes television “good” and “actual”? Most of the people responsible for giving us this tripe would reply… Whatever!  But it’s what the people want.  

Death Watch

(A memory and a reminder)

Dice

I had written two posts mentioning suicide.

I had hoped never to write another one.

But the recent sorry excuse for reportage – a pathetic hotchpotch of biased comments with concerted, subtle, yet vicious splotches of slut-shaming and vindictive, malicious comments and misinformation following articles, allowed to stand by newspaper editors who ought to know better,  has put paid to that hope.

I may be wrong, but it seems to me that some murders and suicides that happen locally get more column space and extensive audio-visual media coverage than others. As a corollary, there is a national discussion by self-styled experts about whys and wherefores.

The media relies on the fact that its audience laps up inaccurate, oversimplified and potentially dangerous, sensationalised reports. I was perturbed at the words and out-of-context sound-bites dug out from statements.

In other sections of the press, we are told that bullying leads to suicide. However, nowhere have I seen it stated that mental manipulation, whether or not it is Gaslighting, may lead to a similar end for the victim. Neither have I seen links to helplines, except once, just in case copycat suicides are in the offing.

I am told that ‘journalists’, whatever that term means these days, have to stuck to fact and not offer opinion – that is the domain of bloggers and / or  opinionated bitches like myself, and, apparently,  the people who regularly trawl the virtual news-sites to leave their insidious,  warped points of view for our delectation.

It is not easy to ‘know everything’ about something that happens. And yet, multifaceted issues are fed to us in drips and drabs, in a seemingly logical manner, in a bid to sway our judgements and mould our conclusions to match the agendas of those who have something to hide.

At this point, I have to ask many, many questions.  If you knew your friend was shoplifting or doing drugs, or riding his motorcycle hell for leather without a crash helmet, would you shop him? Or would you not want to get involved, lest you be tarred with the same brush by ‘ignorant adults’?

If you assume it’s just a phase, or that it is not your business… would you, then, hide the fact that he was having sex with minor?  If you thought he was a megalomaniac, or  sociopath, psychopath, or any other kind of –path, whether or not he had a history of underlying mental illness would you seek help, or would you cover for him because “that is what friends do”, while secretly envying his stud-luck with the girls?

Because of course, there is only one thing worse for a girl than to be called a slut – and that’s to be called a prude. Still, alas, when a man and a child have sex, the man gets high-fives, but the girl loses respectability. Even when he, shudder, shock horror, expresses trepidation that he will be branded a paedophile.

If, on the other hand, someone told you that all of the above could precipitate a death because the person involved fell into an “at-risk category”…would you change your mind?   Or would you shrug and say “shit happens?” ignoring the fact that the warning signs were there all the time?

If you had an acquaintance who always seemed sad, would you approach her? Now let’s take this point farther. If you had a friend who self-harmed because she was lonely, and felt excluded, would you ‘do something about it’, or would you assume she was showing off, or worse, that she was ‘in good hands’ because someone else had her back.  Is it really possible for just one person to have anybody’s back, in these circumstances? Nobody in a position to do so has yet explained that suicide is not an automatic response to feelings of rejection, depression, anxiety, despair, and isolation.

The non-sheep of us have been hauled over the coals for pointing out that you do not fall from a height without breaking a limb or four; that you do not even consider the possibility of a suicide attempt failing; that you do not keep a kid out at night of you know she is listed as missing; that sexts of minors constitute child pornography; that a person’s Facebook wall is not usually removed by anyone except himself… and this cannot be done when you do not have access to it.

I chided a journalist for treating the death of Lisa Marie so flippantly and histrionically, and asked him whether he would have extracted the same quotes from a social site, had she been his little sister. He did not reply.

As part of the research for this article, I clicked a random photograph on “See who’s here” on Ask.fm. Just for the record, there is no need to have an account with the site, to do this. The very first, and only, ‘conversation’ I saw was “il-hara kemm nobodok / mur aqbez / omgzz / suwisajd”.

Is it possible that this kind of activity is ‘fun’? Healthy, and psychologically sound, it certainly is not.

Gossip feeds the voracious appetitive of idle minds; note the hullaballoo about L’Wren and Peaches Geldof, which may not, after all, have been a suicide but due to an extreme diet.

This spawns the disgusting phenomenon of writing schlock – in error-riddled English – to attract audiences.