The news of the quarantined ship in the Maltese ports has spread like wildfire. There is something about birds and our island. I recently purchased a book with a name that goes something like the couch potato's diplomatic guide to the EU 25. The section on Malta centres mainly around 3 points: (1) that it is the nation most likely to secede; and (2) that we shoot birds like there is no tomorrow and (3) we are more catholic than any Ratzinger.
Lost within our confines, we fail to notice that not every single matter about our nation trickles out to the international press and that general perceptions of the Maltin once you leave the island (and once you exclude the "Oh they're so quaint" kind of tourist) tends to be either nonchalant or negative in a twisted way. Yes, because we think that every tom, dick and harry on the other side of the Med is really bothered with our problems at MEPA, our budget deficit and about governments that would be unelectable in any reasonable democracy.
No, we are the eternally divided island of two halves where hunters reign supreme and nowadays where illegal immigrants are unwanted and arrive here to some sort of perverse reversal of the immigrants' american dream (and the French still think wedunnit when it comes to oil spills). We have very few resident foreign journalists. One of them works for La Repubblica and thanks to this person we are now front page material in Italy for another kind of potential disaster. Yep, La Repubblica has us up there along with a Russian discovery of the deadly virus. Thankfully it does specify that its presence has not been confirmed and that our specialists are working on it.
We need to make sure that an eventual confirmation of absence of any deadly vira should spread just as fast as the news of the presence of the floating pile of avian carcasses spread across the major news providers. That will be one for the MTA to work on and I have a few ideas where we can help too.
Meanwhile this weekend seems to have been the time for the strangest and saddest kind of tourists to land on our island. A boat full of dead birds was just about enough news to eclipse the nasty find of floating bodies in St. Paul's Bay. And in an ironical twist of events we have the police starting prosecution on another murder case in which the dead body was never found.
I never liked the way my birth month was always treated as a somber and dark month kicking off with the night of Halloween and proceeding with the day when all the dead are commemorated. The prospects for this November do not look sunny either. Death's ugly face* is cropping up in too many places... somebody, please... let the sunshine in.
* "I AM DEATH, NOT TAXES. I TURN UP ONLY ONCE"
- Death in Pratchett's 'Feet of Clay'.