Historically, apocalyptic events have been preceded by signs in the skies presaging the impending arrival of doom and gloom. Comets, red skies, solar or lunar eclipses, and locusts filling the sky are typical examples of warnings heralding a particular event or marking the beginning of a particular era.
This week an AFM helicopter’s practice route in the sky was captured by a specialised site that traces flight paths. Images of the flight path became viral, not because of some prowess in manoeuvrability by the Maltese maverick but rather because the military vehicle’s path had taken the shape of a giant penis in the Maltese skies.
The phallus spanned the Gozo Channel and faced the larger islands in the archipelago. Whether inadvertently or intentionally, the pilot had given Malta the sign of its time. Żminijiet taż-Z*** would not be far off the mark.
— Flightradar24 (@flightradar24) January 15, 2023
The helicopter of the Maltese Apocalypse comes at a moment of wanton destruction of the little that is left. Madmen want to build villas on Comino and supermarkets within one kilometre of other supermarkets in no development zones and our Courts cannot see the convoluted web of interests behind some planning applications.
There is a sense of the surreal in the air. As the news of the arrest of Mafia head Messina Denaro in Italy hit our shores, we were reminded that the battle for justice could be a slow affair.
Sixty-three months on from the assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia, we had to pause and take stock of the efforts to delay, obstruct or deny justice that seem to be part of the daily business on the islands. Messina Denaro had spent 30 years on the run, and for most of those, it turns out he was hiding in plain sight.
It is a sign of these times that the corrupt and the criminal are at ease operating in plain sight without the need to hide. Worse still, they are enabled by the very systems that are meant to stop them. Giant members in the sky are the least of our problems. It’s the members who we trust with legislation and crime prevention that worry us.
A while back, I had described Robert Abela’s government as the government of “business as usual”. It was business as usual with the disgraced former prime minister’s right-hand man – the equally disgraced Keith Schembri. His companies are meant to be in administration, but they were recipients of direct orders right after the last general election. That member in the sky just got bigger and bigger.
At this rate, the Shift becomes a chronicle of negative investigative reporting. Every day a new scandal inevitably involves the spending of public money by the private few on the private few. With such daily news, you are almost grateful to find out that some joker flying a helicopter chose to draw that phallus in the sky.
They’re signs of times, and the signs are not good.