Once upon a time, a long, long time ago, probably sometime in the early Eighties, when Simon Le Bon was still every teenage girl’s pinup and Paceville boasted of only two discotheques and a couple of pubs, I was the proud owner of five-inch pink patent stiletto heels. How I loved those shoes! At sixteen nothing could quite make me feel like a million dollars, quite as invincible, as those stilettos. I could walk miles in them and dance till dawn, without ever once wincing or complaining. They represented the glory of my salad days, the joy, the laughter and the freedom of leaving childhood behind but still quite a long way from adulthood.
Fast forward a substantial number of decades, an even more substantial number of kilos later plus the hefty responsibilities of full-blown adulthood and I discover, right in the middle of a glitzy shop window in London, my long-lost pink patent heels. The foregone conclusion is as you may imagine. My pink heels found their way to Malta and my wardrobe. Ah, nostalgia! What a rose-tinted mirage it creates! What warped half-truth it tells!
No sooner had I regained possession of that old object of my affection, the one I so cherished in an earlier time and place, that I realised that its purpose, and my emotional attachment to it, was dependent on long gone circumstances and situations. I tried to walk again in my pink heels, but much less agile then my svelte 16-year-old self, the whole episode felt like some rarefied form of Chinese torture. One wise man once said, ‘Nostalgia is a seductive liar’ and so it is. That is exactly the trouble with nostalgia; we glorify what once evoked such excitement and exhilaration, mistakenly fantasising that evoking our past will again fulfill those same needs. But we often overlook the fact that, in different circumstances, the thing for which we long for will no longer correspond to our current situation or indeed our lifestyle.
All this came to mind just this week, when the news of the appointment of Dr Louis Galea as president of the Nationalist Party’s think-tank, AZAD, assigned with the gargantuan task of reforming the party, hit the headlines. What, I hear you ask, has Dr Galea’s appointment got to do with pink stiletto heels? Not much, and if truth be told, comparisons are inevitably always odious. However, this particular appointment by the PN reeks of misplaced nostalgia. ‘Nostalgia’ in Greek literally means ‘the pain from an old wound’. Nostalgia is a dangerous mindset to delve into, not only because it distortedly represents the past, keeping us (the PN in this case) clinging to a sentimental version of a past life but it also unavoidably clouds the future.
A political giant some 30 years ago, Dr Galea, is now, in political terms, a dinosaur, very much like my pink stilettos, and no amount of wistful reminiscence will ever change that. Is it possible, that for an organisation which prides itself on its intellectual credentials, there was not one single prodigy found, who could breathe new life into a party which is vainly struggling to resurrect itself? Is this the new way?
Is it all it boils down to; hoping against hope that the situation with Dr Galea at the helm of a much-touted reform will revert the PN to the way it was? Probably, but what is for sure, is that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks and if Dr Galea’s vision of the PN’s resuscitation resembles anything like its past ‘glory days’, then we can only expect dark days ahead. Then again, in its moribund state, clutching at straws and re-birthing dinosaurs are probably the only solutions the PN can come up with at this wretched point in its once illustrious history…
As they say, ‘The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there’ and just like my pink shoes, some things should firmly remain where they belong… faint memories in the annals of our history books.