Category Archives: 2023 Archive


POSTED FEB 1, 2023

Malta enjoys a special place in the world. I say this speaking both geographically and culturally. Sitting between Africa and Europe it physically enjoys proximity to both, and culturally is a mix of many cultures, owing partially to having been “annexed” or occupied by a long line of nations.

But the special status it also enjoys is being one of those outposts that people talk about running off too. At various points I have chattered on about the uniqueness of Key West, where many arrive to disappear and others to find themselves. Something of an irony, I think. Other such outposts are in the south Pacific, various remote Scottish islands and Haida Gwaii off Canadas west coast. Every region has its outposts or little oddball communities that have not adopted all that is current. All are places that are seen to be remote or detached in some way. Eccentricities, political views, race, gender preference etc. are often not only more tolerated in these places but celebrated.  Most are islands figuratively and literally.

So while some who come to Malta are attracted simply for its great moderate climate, many fully embrace its diverse heritage, independence from larger societies and seemingly remote geography.

A pair of fellows two slips over from me are something of a recent arrival to Malta and to our  marina. Their power yacht is new, and huge and more than a bit out of place in our little water community. I have never met the older of the two but by all accounts he is a nice sort and I have met his much younger partner a few times. I have known a lot of gay couples and find that whether it’s a gay or straight couple one is usually the chatty one and the other is more reserved. It’s the older one I have not met who is the reserved one in this pair.

As I was hosing off the deck one afternoon I couldn’t help but watch him as he was unaware that he was putting on quite a show. He was wearing some big, expensive looking wireless over–ear headphones and was bouncing about / vacuuming / dancing to some music. As I listened more intently it was Joe Cockers Mad Dogs and Englishman album so as he worked through the two disc album (he is a vinyl nut) I would hear the gaps when he would put on another side. He was really working up a sweat with all the dancing and vacuuming.

The hoses we use to wash the boats in the marina are all shared and I was finished my clean up and was rolling it back to the main dock and to turn off the valve there when I encountered his partner. I don’t know him well but we have more than a nodding acquaintance and I remarked how much his partner was enjoying the vacuuming and remarked that I know the music well enough to often figure out what cut was playing. We both turned and watched for about half a minute and said almost simultaneously “The Letter”, and began to laugh.  Yes, he said, his partner was very into his music, particularly from the late sixties and into the seventies, but some new artists as well. As he said this, we could see the Dyson handle being used as a fictional microphone stand while dancing like a combination of Joe Cocker and James Brown.

And then he shared something that said so much. “Glen loves his music and he finds that doing chores like vacuuming not only less tedious but actually enjoyable when he is listening to his favourite music, particularly with his new headphones. He has had a lot of stress in his life and has found that this is his yoga. Some go to Pilates, some see a psychologist, some drink and some vacuum while listening to music. What he often doesn’t realize however that the fairly quiet cordless vacuum we have sometimes he has inadvertently turned off when he is dancing around while vacuuming.”

My grin must have given away that I understood as he touched me on the shoulder and walked away with his final words “his cancer may overtake him but its not for us to take away his joy of being oblivious to the spectacle him dancing and vacuuming with the power off.”

I couldn’t agree more.



Posted: January 1, 2023

I had a rather awkward session at my medical appointment this week. My regular doctor is off on maternity leave and as part of a multi- professional practice I was seen by one of her partners. While it is not the traditional structure of just seeing your same doctor all the time and initially I was skeptical of the arrangement, I have actually come to like the structure as they are all quite skilled in their particular interests and sometimes you will get one who knows more about immunology or geriatrics, cardiology and so on. As much of their client base is over fifty some of these other specialties are a real bonus. It is also a large enough practice that they have a full-time Dietician and Psychologist as well as an onsite lab and a nursing staff to administer regular shots such for influenza, pneumonia, shingles, and of course Covid. As it is also a teaching clinic there is a steady stream of young, bright doctors around who bring a freshness to the operation as well. With a great digital filing system and everyone keeping good notes what is lost in not having “your own doctor” all the time is more than offset by the other perks of their structure.

But one aspect I had not experienced before occurred this week. Now this doctor I was seeing is not a regular family practitioner or a specialist focused on other adult medical issues but a Pediatrician. For my needs I did not expect it would be a problem but something just didn’t feel right walking into a room adorned with stuffed dinosaurs and pictures of unicorns and a big fish tank on one wall. It also did not help that I am a conventional full size male mammal and the only chair in the room for patients was a little stool in the shape of mushroom.

But the bigger issue was the context. She is in her late thirties and it seemed normal to her to talk to me like as if I was a child. I am old enough to be her father and I am sitting there on my toadstool with my knees up beside my ears trying to have an adult conversation. And the nature of that conversation was the real issue, having succumbed to the need to ask for some pills to enhance my performance. Now this is not something I have come to all that easily to start with and the whole experience in the kiddy playroom was getting more surreal with every passing minute.

Part of the problem was that she seemed to be somewhat amused that: a. I would still have any interest at my age, and b. that there would be a woman interested in being with me.

Clearly, she uses a lot of humour in her practice with children as the whole topic seemed amusing to her. She has one of those faces that is always in a perma-grin which must be comforting for kids but was quite off- putting in this context.

And that is when she started to call me Jack. Now some people stumble over the pronunciation of my name, trying to vocalize that unused D at the beginning, but this was something else as she pronounced it properly when I first arrived in the dinosaur den. My puzzled look was all she needed to start into her questions about how many magic beans Jack was looking for and whether the beanstalk might grow on its own somewhat or really need lots of nutrients. At that point I turned the colour of a cooked lobster and the conversation turned to hypertension.

After taking my blood pressure it was concluded, and I am quoting her here: “no magic beans for Jack until he sees a cardiologist”.  So, I now hook myself up every morning to a blood pressure monitor that sends the data to an app on my phone and in the next month I am off to see the cardiologist for a stress test but am still shaking my head about that visit.

I did like the little red sucker she gave me when I left though.