Circus without nets

A unfortunate misunderstanding is haunting Europe. It just doesn’t understand Malta. A mental block has afflicted some of its prestigious bodies – like the Venice Commission; GRECO, the Council of Europe’s anti-corruption body; and of course the European Parliament.

Time after time, over the past weeks, they have asserted that Malta has grave problems with its governance. The Europeans allege the men who run it are careless in acting against suspicious, potentially criminal activity. Lies, all lies.

Naturally, our government has patriotically stood up for us. It showed that these Europeans not only don’t know how to run an economy as well as we can; they don’t know the first thing about the special Maltese context.

We are not some drab continental country without a soul. We have Mediterranean flair. If our economy is nimble; if our reforms are agile; if government backbenchers can juggle conflicts of interests so adroitly; if our trained watchdogs can walk on their hind legs, beg and purr like pussycats; indeed, if our Prime Minister can take all the fire blown his way and swallow it with a smile, like a true fire-eater… it’s because we run the country like a great family circus.

Credit where credit is due. This message was driven home by the acrobatic performance of our Justice Minister, Owen Bonnici, and Attorney General, Peter Grech, at the Council of Europe last week. True trapeze artists, they leapt sommersaults in mid-air, leaving logic and facts with bated breath.

Even that, though, might not be enough for a Dutchman like the joyless Pieter Omtzigt. So let me spell things out slowly so that our country can be judged with a margin of appreciation.

First, our circus has a name. The government draws on the best of international consultants. There is the Circus Redickuless of Los Angeles and the NoFit State Circus of Cardiff. Undoubtedly, however, the main inspiration comes from the state-sponsored Moscow State Circus and the grand Circus Krone, founded by Carl Krone in 1905. Yes, we are the Krony State Circus.

Second, it is a circus with acts you will not see elsewhere. Some of the highlights:

  • ‘The Ratman’, who bravely inserts his head into the mouth of a stuffed lion called Fiau (pronounced, “Phew!”);
  • ‘The Amazing Speaking Coconut’, which rests on the lap of the ventriloquist-ringmaster, who in turn has his strings pulled by a puppet master;
  • ‘The Human Swiss-Knife’, who, tired of his drab life as an accountant, joined the circus. Watch him turn into a pair of scissors as he snips red tape with due diligence! Observe as he turns into a knife and cuts you a slice of the cake! See him turn into a corkscrew that opens a bottle of vintage Château Hearnville so you can toast your good fortune!
  • Magic, the new way! See ‘The Magician’ make half the voters disappear! Enjoy how he gives David Copperfield a run for his money – indeed, move that money out of one bank account and into another without lifting a finger. Like everyone, you will be impatient for his human cannonball number!

Third, it’s a reforming, modernising circus – a circus with a purpose. This website is in a position to reveal a planned hommage to Alfred Hitchcock that adapts some of his most famous thrillers to the circus ring. ‘The Birds’, for example, will feature thousands of trained vultures who simultaneously attack audience members who complain about the evening’s entertainment. ‘To Catch a Thief’ will be mimed by clowns.

It is expected that the films will include ‘Suspicion’, ‘Notorious’, ‘Foreign Correspondent’, ‘Dial M For Murder’, and ‘The Lady Vanishes’. Hitchcock fans will no doubt regret the omission of ‘I Confess’, but then some people are just never pleased.

The Europeans are confused by the fact that even public officials don’t hesitate to be part of the circus. But this is Malta, blessed with public officials who, in order to permit the country to give the best image of its creativity, are prepared to go beyond the call of duty.

That’s why Police Commissioner Lawrence Cutajar appears to have bagged all the parts played by Peter Lorre in Hitchcock’s films – in ‘Man from the South’, ‘Diplomatic Corpse’, ‘Secret Agent’ and ‘The Man Who Knew Too Much’. Even if the usual carping critics have expressed doubt about his suitability for the latter role, they grudgingly acknowledge the striking physical resemblance between the two stars.

It seems that the signature part played by Hitchcock himself in all his films – that irrelevant and yet-so-awaited walk-on appearance – will be played by Peter Grech. This will come as a surprise to those of us who know him only as a fearless Attorney General; but we’re told he is also a thespian well appreciated for his ability to give the impression he’s not acting at all.

Will the morose, penny-pinching, protest-prone Europeans ever understand the humanitarian principle that politicians and public officials were not made for the law, but that the law was made for them?

Just imagine how green with envy our erstwhile critics will be when they see our circus’ spectacular number: An entire country walking a tightrope without a safety net.

The Krony State Circus. Not just the best in Europe. It’s the Greatest Show on Earth.

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