Black ‘n White

I have been struggling with my feelings these last few weeks on whether to put pen to paper (so to speak), and let this post loose on my blog.

However, stuck inexorably behind a waste pick-up truck, watching the black workers scurry around like worker ants, I simply had to do it. I am not apologizing for the word black. I’m white, pasty white….. a friend of mine is burnt a crisp brown, another is yellow… and after all, black is my favourite colour… I hate all this political correctness shit.

So yeah, it started me thinking again… Not too long ago, following another landing (or rescuing) of illegal immigrants on our beleaguered island, a Facebook page was set up… ‘Daqshekk ghall-immigrazzjoni llegali’… loosely translated, it means ‘Enough with illegal immigration’. As a person who thrives on fairness and clarity, I have to give the founders of this page a lot of credit. After all, our tiny island, a few square miles in area and smaller than many American farms, simply cannot handle the weight of these new arrivals.

However this page has something sinister that is disturbing me. In it we are seeing the selfishness and pure bestiality of the Maltese population. While the page’s creators were probably righteous in their message, the typical Maltese guy or girl isn’t…. it is nothing but a spew of bigotry and hate…and this is coming from a country that specifies itself as being catholic/christian… whatever the hell that means these days.

I wonder if the comments would be the same if the boatloads of immigrants were buxom blonde babes, or a bevy of handsome Brad Pitt look-alikes…

I am all in favour of legality to the point of pain. People coming here MUST have papers and passports. Their arrival MUST have had approval and veto. Unhappily, and here we must call a spade a spade, we are being overrun by the lowest common denomination in the gene pool from Syria, Libya, Somalia and Eritrea who are haphazardly escaping their war-torn countries….

But besides this point (and the fact the little, if any, even want to integrate into our society), one has to realise something that to me would be akin to calling Scotty and telling him to ‘Beam me up’ to another planet.

The immigrants come here practically with nothing except the clothes on their back.

I cannot even imagine being somewhere without my iphone, or my ipad, and yet here they are, but for the grace of whatever god they follow… dispirited and destitute, thankful only that they have survived the voyage over concrete jungles, the treacherous dunes of the Sahara, and the deceitfully placid waters of the Mediterranean. The average crossing costs them seven-hundred Euros, most likely their complete lifelong savings.

These people come here with nothing!

…and despite my misgivings and the knowledge that we are burdened to the point of snapping, one simply but cannot feel sorry for their trials and tribulations.

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To boldly go…

   Every year in Malta, something out of the ordinary occurs, unprecedented on the scale, and possible elsewhere only because of the huge amounts of populace in a country. Mid-September is when it happens, and this mass congregation is nothing short of stupendous.

   For those attending this event, now over sixty years old and increasing in popularity year by year, it is nothing if not an extraordinary experience. Should I decide to do it once again, it would be my 25th participation.

   I am, of couse, referring to the Cycling Pilgrimage that takes place a week or so prior to the celebration of ‘Our Lady of Graces’, or ‘Tal-Grazzja’ as it is called here.

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   Thousands upon thousands of cyclists of all ages congregate at Rabat to wind down to Zabbar, a cacophony of colour, noise, mix of bikes, creeds, religions, sentiments, and of course crazy fun.

   Some eight years ago, falling badly ill, it seemed as if it was the end of not only my ‘walking life’, but pretty much everything else associated with the vertical. Until a cure, or a slowdown was available, I found it was difficult to do much, and essentially, my life as a mobile person was over. I needed to depend on others to do even the bare necessities.

   So even thinking about once again ever participating in this ride was as far removed from my mind as reaching for the moon. There… but not for the taking.

   After a year, I began to improve health-wise. I started taking to the bicycle once again. As a cycling nut, I couldn’t resist the lure of my trusty steed. I recall March being the month of my rennaisance.

   When September came, and with it the first pangs of remembrance, I decided to take a gamble and try the pilgrimage once more. I wasn’t even mentally prepared for it, less alone physically. Cycling up to Rabat leaving home at 6am was definitely off the cards. So I drove up to Zabbar in my old van, with the bike safely ensconed in it. Buses took us up to Rabat, with trucks taking the bikes.

   The pace on these things is obviously quite slow, and I started out only with the greatest fear, but as the miles sped by beneath my wheels, seeing thousands of people egging us on, my heart began to soar. I could do this. I actually began sobbing with happiness as this new found courage flowed and encouraged me onward…

   As we arrived close to our destination, the crowds swelled immeasurably, and I could recognize family, friends and colleagues on the sidelines who knew what I had been going through. Their shouts of encouragement was way more adrenaline than I needed. It spurred me on.

   I will always recall that day as my new birth. So this year, while undecided whether to attend or not, I will still probably rush down to the garage and grab my bike for this outrageous event once again…

   … to boldly go