Just when you think that social stigma is a thing of the past, along comes the Times of Malta with the howler of a headline “Regatta fans leave Cospicua looking rough – Litter galore as people celebrate the Cospicua regatta club’s 12th victory”. Someone must have forgotten to remind The Times of Malta that we are now in 2019 and social racism is at least, a vile and pathetic stance for anyone, let alone a popular daily paper.
But true to form, The Times is adamant to keep up with its long tradition of demonising those who do not fit into its delicate vision of gentility. So, what has prompted this stalwart of local journalism to wrinkle its nose, as is its wont and churn out this arid and deplorable ‘report’? Apparently, the paper found itself in a dither after the Freedom Day Regatta Shield was won by the city’s club for the 12th time and of course the celebrations that ensued.
Its editorial board found the showing of “food containers, empty beer cans and other disposables littering the Cospicua promenade” worthy of publishing a story, because, you know, it really is of national interest. The video it bothered to upload on its online portal shows exactly what usually goes on in any other celebration, in any city, in any country of the world. Whether London, Prague or New York, the natural by-product of such celebrations is the accumulation of garbage, which is usually cleared up immediately after the festivities.
What happened in Bormla is also none too different to what happens all over the island after ‘festa’ celebrations, St Patrick’s Day, Notte Bianca and a hundred other celebrations which take place during the year. Just how exactly are people supposed to celebrate their team’s success? Would a nice tea party, complete with Earl Grey tea, scones, miniature cucumber sandwiches and perhaps ballroom dancing suited better the refined sensibilities of The Times?
Any stuck-up, joyless halfwit out there who found the footage shocking has clearly no idea of what constitutes a great party. Yes, it was boisterous, yes there was mass-littering, but this was immediately cleared up the following morning. So, what’s with the finger pointing and chest thumping? Do these people intentionally make it their life’s mission to look down on others in order to feel better about themselves? Or is it that they have nothing else to report or more disconcertingly, nothing better to do with their time?
Ahh but here’s the thing! This is Bormla, a city which has traditionally served as the perfect scapegoat for an utterly despicable, cretinous group of social racists to vent their unique brand of social prejudice against those they believe do not fit their notion of the ‘educated’, ‘civil’, chattering classes. And obviously, The Times and its sister paper The Sunday Times have, over the decades, consistently been their mouthpiece, regularly publishing scathing and disparaging pieces about this locality adding to, (if not exactly creating) the perception of a depraved, crime infested, ‘hamalli’ (chavs) populated area.
Isn’t it absurd that on an island just 17 miles long, in 2019, the division between the North and South of the island still rears its ugly head, or to be more precise, the stigma against the people of the inner Harbour area is still encouraged and kept aflame by those with the murkiest of agendas? Isn’t it ironic that a few years ago, it would have been inconceivable for many people to live in Cospicua, let alone choose to buy a property in the area which now along with Senglea, Vittoriosa and Valletta is listed as the up and coming area for purchasing property? Isn’t it tragic that in an island that’s a tiny speck on the map, people have no idea of what lies just across from their capital and simply refuse to enter Bormla, fearing that somehow, they’d be tainted by association?
I have lived in Bormla for seven years, starting out married life (my other half is a true born and bred Bormliz) at a time when it was not fashionable to do so and the attached social stigma stood at an all-time high, at a time when mentioning where you live used to elicit (to my utter amusement) shock and disgust. During those seven years, I have gotten to know the city, its vast heritage and its people and can honestly, hand on heart say, that it’s no more different than any other locality except for the friendliest and most welcoming Bormlizi who used to go out of their way to help me out when I was stuck at home with a fractious new-born baby and a husband who worked long graveyard shifts.
Therefore, three decades later, I find this kind of trash journalism painful and unacceptable especially at a time when we should be striving to eradicate all forms of prejudice. My Bormla, our Bormla, is much, much different from what selective reporting by our media houses have us believe. It is no more a crime, hamalli infested den than any other town, city or village in Malta… Give this extraordinary city and its people a chance and I assure you, you’re in for a wonderful surprise…