The other day, I got one of those hello-we’re-doing-a-survey phone calls. They asked a series of questions ending with an odd one: Sinjura, who would you want to childmind your son or daughter, Simon Busuttil or Joseph Muscat? I burst out laughing. Now, that’s a question I can happily answer.
The truth is that this is a question that most single parents ask not at election time, but every time they meet someone they like. We all go, hmm, would I trust my children with this man/this woman? And that is a priority on which, more than anything else, we base our judgement. When you’re a single parent, in a sense, your children have a veto on the choice of your companion.
My daughter met the Significant Other before he actually became a Significant Other. Thankfully she liked him, mostly I think because he pretty much mirrored our lives. She saw in him someone who lived a life similar to ours: someone who went to work, cooked, did the laundry, helped with homework, talked about his day at dinner time, slumped on the sofa to read the papers, watched football, spent ages at the supermarket cheese counter, had lots of books and newspapers strewn around the house and came with an added bonus of two boys and a dog. To her he represented all that we already knew: nothing special, nothing out of the ordinary, just normality. So I held my breath and awaited her verdict: “Yes, yes he’s okay, he’s nice, ma.” And then we blended our two regular families.
It’s like people are tired of this unravelling crime-novel saga which has become the reality of politics
This normality has been put on hold at home for this last month or so. However, it’s not only in our household – it has been put on hold in the households of many others. I meet people every day who tell me about their sense of apprehension, their inability to focus on anything but the developments in the political landscape. I also meet so many people who are scared to speak out, who feel gagged – because they will lose a job promotion, or their son would be given a transfer. “I just want things to go back to normal,” many tell me. And that is the single most aspiration, which is driving everyone: the return to normality.
It’s like people are tired of this unravelling crime-novel saga which has become the reality of politics. You can’t even watch House of Cards anymore because any award-winning series pales when compared to reality. All people want now is to slump on the sofa and vegetate; they want to open the newspapers and just read articles about the Eurovision, or about saving the Maltese indigenous strawberry. You can almost say everyone is craving the humdrum of non-eventful routine.
I am. I long to go back to work, editing books, safe in the knowledge that the person running the country will have the country’s agenda at heart. I trust my daughter with him, let alone my country.
■ What is it like to be on the campaign trail, I’m asked almost every day. It’s actually like a very busy day at the newsroom, where you are out and about all the time meeting lots of people and everyone is very willing to tell you their story, but instead of writing articles, you take notes with the aim of being turned to policies. Everyone is also very willing to feed you “Kul għax ma fik xejn”.
This is not how it all started, three-and-a-half years ago. Then, we’d go to weddings, and everyone would pretend to be suddenly more interested in the cheese table or the cake decoration, or some invisible person they just saw.
We laughed about it, but the Significant Other would worry for me that I was being humiliated, but that was far from the case. Because it takes one brave man to start from the very pits and work his way up, changing everything and breathing in fresh air along the way. If there is one thing that life has taught me it is that the strength and determination of a person can only be tested when at rock bottom.
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