Nicholas de Piro writes:
Peter Apap Bologna has left the scene to explore eternity. He was born in 1941 starting life with visits to air-raid shelters during frequent bombardments and food shortages. He was a gifted child and did well at school. He could charm anyone if he tried to, and with this gift he had an overabundance of self-confidence.
His career in later years bears testimony to the fact that he walked into jobs as a chartered accountant, an estate agent, managing director of a public company, director of a London Bank, more banking in the US and then off to Ireland to deal in rare books and valuable first editions.
Back to Malta and it can be said that as an art dealer and connoisseur his exhibitions at the Melitensia Art Gallery which he founded were second-to-none. I remember one for Kenneth Zammit Tabona which sold out before the opening; the sales, especially of Malta subjects boomed, prices blossomed and the champagne flowed.
Peter was related to me in different ways: both through my grandfather and also through my grandmother. We could understand each other very often without the necessity to express an opinion – a grunt would do.
We disagreed on many things and we passionately agreed on a host of others. Our characters may have been different, but we were linked by unrelenting and positively active genes. My affection for Peter was brotherly and his loss is a stab in the heart, the mind and the spirit.
We saw a lot of each other right through our lifetimes. My earliest memory was threatening to punch his nose if he were ever to pull my sister Madeleine’s plaits again. As time passed he matured in strong focus on the pinnacles which life’s ambitions had to offer.
He made it easily as a chartered accountant in London. In Malta Peter practised as an estate agent in the 1960s handling what we all called the sixpenny-settlers in Malta’s first property boom.
He rose to a variety of heights managing a public company whose Malta branch gave him a chauffeur-driven car (we were so impressed). Up, and further up the hill, Peter became a bank director working in London and then on to the US with considerable responsibilities (one was organising a loan to the Brazilian government).
Peter was the author of a variety of books including a novel, biographies and memoirs.
His opinions, always strong, can be surprising: there seems to be some good in Dom Mintoff but he also gets his criticism, and as for Guido de Marco’s Politics of Persuasion he says, “It is so reasonable and conciliatory, rather than aggressive or antagonistic. It’s a book I constantly dip in and out of, and I use it to refer to events within Malta’s political history.”
In his own memoirs, Peter is brave enough to publish the comments of Martin Scicluna and diverging even to Peter Cassar Torreggiani.
One of my favourite books produced by Peter is Nonna Chica, the life story of his great-grandmother and her variety of descendants, including a potential saint. There is so much more to read always written with blatant nerve and audacity.
As time passes his works will need deeper focus for assessment which will be recognised as having covered topics quite unreservedly.
I know nobody else like Peter and I feel his loss with pain. I am sure his family and friends all feel the same as I do.
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