XVI: Maltese Postcard

The Maltese have a proverb, ‘for every piece of wood there is an axe,’ & boy do they mean it. Malta doesn’t have many trees, hacked down centuries ago & leaving a barren, rocky landscape. I’m, lucky, I guess, cos it’s nice & green at the mo – but apparently the islands turn brown in the summer heat. Talking of which, it’s been very summery of late, & as we drew to the close of our wintery sabbatical we had a last chance to soak in the sun. We did this in Bugibba, a Britesque part of Malta, with a rooftop pool & views of the sea, for 50 quid a week. Money is starting to run low now, so me & G have done a bit of work. Not as barmen for less than the local three quid an hour, but a chain of events has found us a relatively lucrative ways of making cash.

Last weekend I took my acoustic down Paceville, where I did my first busking for about 8 years. With Glenda as my charismatic hat-girl we pulled about thirty quid in an hour or so – ‘Sympathy for the Devil’ by the Stones being the highest earner. On the same night we met some guys who work in the timeshare world over here. It’s all about sales & percentages & the companies over here figure that for every twenty couples that look round their hotels, one will hand over several thousand pounds. So, the touts roam the streets to get the people through the doors & get cash if me & Glenda stay for the full two hour tour – which they split with us! We are on the blag with a nice lass from Chile, the money paying for her studies. All in all its about fifteen pounds for two hours of being fed beers & coffees & being shown around some very classy joints; plus a couple of free bottles of wine to take home. We were in one today, where Brigette Nielson got married & Troy was filmed on the golden sands. The queen also had her Commonwealth meeting here last year (53 heads of state) & we saw the toilet where her official toilet-seat holder placed a perfumed piece of polished ivory down so the royal bottom wouldn’t pick up any proletariat-germs. I had the obligatory poo there & only hope a bit of its now innate regality has washed off on me.

The Maltese archipelago is cool – you can buzz about them quite cheaply on these mad 50s style orange buses, & we have seen quite a lot of the temples/forts/bars/caves that the place has got to offer… plus there’s calamari fishing to be had which brings back some of the Sicilian tour. The last couple of weeks in Malta were interesting to say the least. There was rabbit stew, the national dish, cooked in wine & garlic & tasty as fuck – except for the rabbit heads (complete with bucked teeth) that I neatly hid under a serviette by the side of my plate. Another notable incident was an LSD drenched barbecue by the sea which ended up at one of the island’s holy feasts – everybody commented on what a good mood we were in – in fact we had been laughing for about seven hours solid. I have also been enjoying watching the Champion’s League in the local pubs. There are often four games on at the same time, which can sometimes give you a bit of a headache trying to keep up, but very enjoyable if you’ve had a wee wager on the outcome of the games. Tomorrow, however, we are finally set to leave these remarkable isles, those ‘Sister tenants of the middle deep,’ & Malta, & Sicily & all the rest of this Winter’s adventures seem a dream.

I have also been working really hard on completing Axis & Allies at last. I’ve just spent the past 12 months or so heaping upon the text a great deal of fresh materielle, including quite recently a number of stanzas on the siege of Malta in 1565 by the Ottoman Turks. Valetta was built after the siege, & a magnificent creation it is too. There is a fort at the headland, tho’, that dates from that time – St Elmo’s – as are the ‘three cities’ across the harbour. Just being here reeks of history & war & I feel it’s been a perfect place to complete my epic poem.

March 20th



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