The Malta Independent 13 November 2018, Tuesday

Marie Benoît’s Diary

Malta Independent Sunday, 23 September 2012, 00:00 Last update: about 5 years ago

I can say that semi-hibernation is now a thing of the past. The weather is less cruel, especially in the evenings and invitations are beginning to come in slowly but very surely. I celebrated the beginning of the cooler weather by making myself a mug of the delicious Malteser chocolate drink, one evening this week, to put myself in the mood for heaters, Ciobar and proper winter food such as curries, pies, soups and minestra. My mood brightens up at the thought that hot summer days are almost over and we can be human again.

A few weeks ago I did venture into Valletta, one hot evening and egged on by Aleks Farrugia the editor of It-Torca, proceeded to Luciano’s in Merchants Street to attend a meeting of the Philosophy Sharing Foundation. Alfred Sant was going to speak about the Euro. I told Aleks this was not the place for me for I know nothing of philosophy but he assured me: “It will not be a discussion about numbers or statistics and neither will those present be all of them philosophers. It will mostly be those interested in philosophy and some students too.” I found out that Philosophy Sharing was founded in May this year. Fr Mark Montebello, Dr Sandra Dingli and Aleks Farrugia are amongst the founding members. The objective is to draw together professional philosophers, students, teachers and enthusiasts and share their ideas and their work. Some of the members, like Fr Mark who is also chairman, and Sandra Dingli, Vice Chairman, are well established. Others like Alex himself who is PRO and is at present writing a book on the Philosophy of History are still establishing themselves. Malta is still waiting for a real philosopher I am told.

There were a number of people who like me, are simply intellectually curious. Dr Sant an economist and not a philosopher, was invited, it was explained to me because the society believes that philosophy does not exist in a vacuum. Said Aleks: “The material circumstances that surround each one of us play an important part, and we wanted to understand better the link between the material crises that we are experiencing particularly in Europe and a more profound cultural/spiritual crisis that has a direct bearing on our doing philosophy as Europeans.”

Dr Sant gave an excellent talk which could be easily understood by a layperson like myelf. Aleks Farrugia acted as chairman and he wanted to know from the speaker whether this is just an economic crisis or something more profound. Dr Sant argued that the crisis has more consequences than just economic; that it is also political and ethical. Of course we all know, even if we are not philosophers, that nothing exists in a vacuum. Everything is a link in a chain. An interesting evening and I was persuaded to become a member of the society. It makes a change from eating canapés I must say.

In my twenties I had read Helen Waddell’s novel Peter Abelard which had fascinated me. Abelard was a French philosopher born in the 13th Century who eventually fell in love with Héloise who was brilliant herself. The intense romance ended very sadly as he was castrated and she had to go to a nunnery, although they had produced a son. Like most good love stories, theirs too finished badly. Before expiring Peter Abelard’s last words are said to have been: ‘I don’t know.’ It is consoling for me an ignoramus when it comes to philosophy that even he, a learned and brilliant man who really gave up his private life with Heloise to pursue his ‘career’ didn’t know. Those will be my last words too, if I die in my bed that is.

I am looking forward to the next meeting.

Edouard de Lamarzelle’s birthday party

Edouard is a friend of the Rondeaus and CEO of PSA Peugeot Citroën which has offices in Malta and employs a good number of employees. Of a quiet disposition and the manners of a prince he is full of praise for his Maltese employees. He also believes that since they are working for a French company they should learn French and that is what he is urging them to do. It was his birthday and his three delightful sons were on holiday in Malta, so he threw a party at his Qui-si-sana flat. It was an occasion for a bunch of friends of Noelle and Daniel Rondeau to get together and take a photo souvenir to send them to Paris. A most enjoyable party with Maltese and French friends and colleagues enjoying the wine and the mostly Maltese food and talking the night away. We raised our glasses to Edouard wishing him a very happy birthday.

The Loft in Naxxar

The enterprising interior designer, Josette Schembri Vella has moved from her premises 3 city designs in Birgu to Loft in Naxxar. It is a most attractive outlet and Josette’s eye for design and colour is very obvious. She has some lovely items for the home and this gave guests the occasion to look at everything properly. Mrs Michelle Muscat was present as were Helena and Edward Zammit Lewis and Helena’s parents. Her mother Marise, does not waste her time gossiping her life away but after reading for a degree in sociology in her later years now helps Appogg. I enjoyed talking to her and her husband whose uncle, Prof. Philip Farrugia, it turns out, was one of the witnesses at my parents’ wedding all those moons ago. His other uncle, Fr Farrugia was parish priest at St Gregory’s church. He was very conservative and very strict and would stand at the door of the church before mass and if you wore very short sleeves he would turn you back. Also, he did not like women to wear patterned scarves as they distracted other worshippers. If you were wearing a neckline which was slightly osé, audacious he would simply skip you if you were kneeling down at the altar, as one did in those days, to receive Holy Communion.

Once, when I was about twelve-years-old I felt I had to tell him that my mother, in a hurry to take us somewhere – there were five of us after all – put me and my sister in the bath together. He got out of the confessional, took one look at me, gave me a week’s rosary to say on my knees, and pronounced to the world that he was going to come and see my mother! Uffff! I am glad Elena’s father has a great sense of humour and is an interesting conversationalist. And although I did not ask him it is obvious that he is not conservative like his good uncle.

Bignardi’s art exhibition

I don’t normally go to vernissages but I was encouraged by a friend to go to that of La Famille, works of the Franco-Italian artist, Ruggiero Bignardi at Opus 64 Gallerie. Juliana Scerri Ferrante who has such excellent links with Italy, inaugurated it in her capacity of Vice-President of the Italo-Maltese Chamber of Commerce. She said she had chosen this particular artist because Bignardi reflects not only a visible living culture but the most important value – the family. “If the family goes, so goes our civilization,” she said.

Delicious food was served from the Campagna region – the mozzarella di buffola was outstanding and an Italian woman insisted on my having a handful of tiny chocolate balls with limoncello inside… absolutely delightful, but do I have ‘chocolate’ written all over my face? The exhibition remains open until 30 September. It is worth a visit.

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