Every morning my husband brings me a cuppa in bed and I grudgingly murmur a “thank you”. I should be thankful for this loving gesture but I am not; in fact, my 5am mug of tea irritates the hell out of me.
He places it in my eye line so that as I struggle to open my eyes I see it, and then the guilt sets in… the very least I could do is actually drink it. I ignore the guilt for a while but eventually cave in, gulping the tepid beverage down. I am now awake.
This cuppa is the only certainty in my daily routine since I began working at The Shift over a year ago.
The working day at The Shift has no nine to five timetable. It does not respect lunch hours or tea breaks and it certainly doesn’t respect days off, public holidays and weekends.
The very simple fact is that we have no control over what is going to happen from one moment to the next. We can only control how we react and how The Shift reports it no matter when it happens.
After I have downed my cup of tea I start scrolling through all my messages and alerts, this is when I discover what sort of day I am in for. I am always relieved to see that there are no messages from Caroline as this means that the night hasn’t been too bad – no late night attacks on the website or lawsuits sneakily emailed at 00:01. Things are looking good and there is a chance that she may have had more than a couple hours of sleep which bodes well for the day.
There seems to be some mystical law governing nasty legally threatening emails and letters which dictates that they must always be sent in pairs…the old adage of “it never rains but it pours” is very fitting. The trolls seem to work by the same rule book too.
I never know if I am actually going to make it into the office each day, and this is usually only confirmed in my morning call with Caroline, when we catch up on what needs to be done and what is happening. The daily routine needs to be fluid because it can all change in a moment… the only thing that can’t ever change is the publication schedule.
When I do get to the office I always make a point of announcing my entrance with a chirpy “it’s only me” before I turn the key. The reason is simple…not to alarm. The subconscious threat level is always ticking along at moderate to high and my time with The Shift is teaching me to respect this without making a fuss.
I am now due for my second cuppa and by the time I have made and drank this I will have caught up on all the recent goings-on, with Caroline obliging to fill in any gaps, stopping frequently to reign in her anger at yet another emerging scam…occasionally she stops mid-sentence, alarmed as she realises that I may think her anger is directed at me and she tries to reassure me that it isn’t but forgets to stop yelling at me as she apologises.
These lighter moments are so precious to us both as they break the frost of isolation that continually tries to creep in. When every “ping” on your mobile phone could be another insult, another threat, notice of yet another acquaintance selling out their integrity you very quickly learn to value the opportunity to laugh and not let it pass.
I have a litigation background, so demanding, fickle lawyers and barristers were my bread and butter. I used to pride myself on being able to work under pressure; I thrived on it. One year at The Shift and I still haven’t missed a deadline or cracked but it’s been close and every morning when I wake up I do wonder why the hell I am doing this.
So, each morning as I drink the tepid brew in bed, struggling to drag myself out and face the day, I remind myself exactly why and what it is I am part of, and because he knows it’s so important to me my husband persists in bringing me that dreaded mug of tea at 5am every morning.
My first thought is always of Daphne Caruana Galizia and I return to the shock of her assassination and the anger. Her death for me wasn’t just an attack on press freedom but also an attack on a woman who dared to speak out in Malta and about a country no longer fit for our children. I cannot be a spectator to this.
I believe that if you think something is wrong you don’t only moan about it, you challenge it and do something about it. The Shift is doing exactly that.
This morning I was wide awake at 5am, I desperately needed my sweet cup of tea. The news we received on Tuesday night has stunned me and my mind is still struggling to process the implications. I doubt Caroline will have had more than a couple of hours of sleep since; I check my phone for messages.
The hole into which Malta has fallen has suddenly become much deeper and so much darker. For the first time ever, I am questioning the risk.
And as my husband at last places my mug on the bedside table I realise that the support that you give The Shift with each donation you make not only pays for the work it does but it also affords us protection. Each amount donated allows us to hit back stronger than before. There is another expression I am all too fond of using ‘I’ll hold your jacket while you hit’… it seems appropriate.
Recent events show the risk is very real and has to be treated with respect. The Shift needs your support more than ever because we now need to fight back harder than ever and this is the only real option we have.
Your donations and support are quite literally our strength and protection and we are only as strong as you make us. Please ‘hold our jacket’ by donating to The Shift.