I came across the above photo while going through my cousin's flickr photos. Nathaniel, who now regularly reads the news on Net is the third from left. The one who looks like he had been oiled for the photo taken at a primordial Ramla Bay. Seeing the photo is a throwback to those lovely days in the eighties when the cousins on my father's side met on a regular basis to wreak havoc in whatever environment we were left to play. It is amazing that someone got us to stand still long enough to get this picture taken. We are lined up in order of height and age - starting from the left Kurt, Johnathan, Nathaniel, myself, Andrè and Geoffrey G. Missing in action are Joseph, Kristoff and our only female cousin - Juanita.
I seem to be whingeing about something for a change. Most probably my hatred of the sea had not yet been completely overcome. I hold on strongly to the lifejacket thingy (which is a bright orange when seen in colour). Do not let those Ethiopian legs deceive you. I am sure that lurking somewhere out of the picture you would find the four or five picnic coolers and wicker baskets full of such delicacies as hard boiled eggs and ftajjar biz-zejt u t-tonn, watermelons and timpana.
My guess is that the photo was taken in the late afternoon (note the sun shining on Nadur - it's the shadows stupid) and that the wild bunch is well fed and out to look for trouble. Kurt or John would let out "Last one to the sea is a rotten egg" - and while the rest of us would be tryng to decipher their Canadian Accent and wondering what a ruttennawg is they would already be knee deep in the water. Meanwhile Andrè, my all-eating brother, would have wandered off on the hunt for the latest sea-creature to put in his mouth and devour or dissect.
I do not remember much of what I thought of a day at the sea. Fear of being forced to swim without the lifejacket must have been a prime consideration (once shed though, I would join my cousins in becoming a terror of the seas). I remember the usual warnings not to stray too far.. the races, competitions and games. We would stay in the sea until we practically dissolved. Not much sun screen was being spread around in those days. Our skins were already being used to getting as thick as possible - and black of course.
The outing would last until the sun began to set. Until the last tourists had hurried away from the beach to catch the last bus to civilisation. Then mothers would turn seargents to husbands and children alike barking out orders to the company to reassemble. The war on the sand would begin as any recognisable trace of the horrible infiltrator would be scrubbed out of your body with towel. There was the horrible ritual of slipping out of the swimsuit and into your dry "penty" while being scrubbed dry and senseless by a caring mum. Shame of nudity is probably drilled in around that time among Maltese kids as they stand behind the towel to hide the transformation from beach bandit to well groomed offspring.
It was normally around this time when André all dressed and primmed up usually decided to have his last frolick into the sea, clothes, brushed hair and all!
Madonna kemm hu imqareb. Imma x'ahlew!
(How naughty... yet how sweet!)
Credits: Thanks Nathaniel for the photo from his flickr collection.
The photo looks like an '81 to me - though it could easily be the World Cup year (only then it would be a bit too late for me to still be running around with the life thingy - on the other hand I could be wearing it to play some game that escapes me).