The Malta Independent 26 November 2022, Saturday
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Life and other distractions: The state we are in

Sunday, 2 October 2022, 08:05 Last update: about 3 months ago

Louis Gatt

The other day I was asked a question by a very young lad: "Uncle, what do they mean by 'a Mafia state'?" "Er... um... right. Well, it means, er... it means... um... a state run by criminals... er." He absorbed this information, then followed up with: "Does that mean Malta is... what you just said?" I'm afraid I chickened out and hedged my bets: "Um not necessarily... er." He wasn't having any, he retorted: "But maybe it is, eh?" I'm afraid I continued to umm and err: "Er maybe." He persisted: "Money laundering, corruption and stuff like that."


I nodded: "That's certainly criminal activity, yes. But why do you ask?" He came clean: "Ryan's dad said this country is rotten to the chorus." I corrected him: "Don't you mean rotten to the core?" He agreed: "Yeah something like that... well?" "Well, what?" "Well, is it?" I faffed and fumbled further: "Um some say so... but others disagree." He fixed me with one of his penetrating stares and continued: "Well what do you think?" "I... er... why don't you ask your auntie (my wife)." He remained unfazed: "I did." "Oh right... and what did she say?" "She told me to ask you." "Did she now. Right well... shouldn't you be doing your homework or something?" His gaze was unrelenting, he just shrugged and added: "Already done it... go on what do you think?"

Yes, I'll admit I did feel somewhat trapped. There's nothing like a bloody child to put you on the spot and keep you on it. He was super-persistent - and went on: "My dad says the ex-prime minister was voted the most corrupt politician on the planet, so... since everyone knows that all politicians are super corrupt, it must mean he is or was the most corrupt human being in the world." And the little bugger is just 12 years old! My nephew I mean, not the ex PM.

A very good friend, who is also a fanatical football fan, recently took me to task for, what he saw as my "embarrassing" preoccupation with Italian football. He wanted to know why I never gave a shout out to Maltese footie. I was straight with him and confessed that I actually know next to nothing about the local game, since I never visit Ta' Qali for the purpose of watching a Malta Premier League match or even an international.

And anyway, I still remember one of our drivers, who doubled as an illegal bookmaker and who, on a Friday before the weekend games, would tell us all the results - with scores - of the matches about to be played on Saturday and Sunday. And... he was usually spot on. The game may well have moved on since those days when strange scores predominated, like way back in 1983 when the national team lost 12 - 1 to Spain. It may have been a coincidence that this was the score needed for the Spaniards to qualify for the European Nations Tournament in 1984... ahem. Maybe things have changed for the better radically today, but I think I'll stick to following the Scudetto and - to a lesser extent - the English Premier League. Maltese football may well be as honest as the day is long these days, but it's still way too complicated for my tiny mind to absorb. So, I think I'll continue to follow just the Scudetto. Life's too short.




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