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.