My essentials: Maria-Elena Farrugia’s cultural picks

No 60 | Maria-Elena Farrugia 30, Teacher and Freelance Musician

1. Book

‘The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck’ by Mark Manson. This book encapsulates my views on life. It’s about how life sucks sometimes and how that is actually okay. It’s like an inverted self-help book where the idea is not to ‘find your bliss’, but rather a soul-searching exercise to identify what you really care about and accept the reality of juxtaposing the good and the bad in order to have a fuller experience of life. It is the antithesis of posting about an impossibly ‘perfect’ (and therefore unattainable) life on social media and actually living in the real world. After all, this is the only chance we get.

2. Film

When it comes to movies, I enjoy anything with an intelligent plot, a solid cast, preferably of British actors (with the exception of Meryl Streep, who is a goddess), and a killer soundtrack. The Harry Potter film series springs to mind. To me, this franchise encapsulates my childhood/adolescence while ticking all the aforementioned boxes. Apart from this, I am, like most people of my generation, a sucker for a good Pixar or Disney animation movie, with my favourite being Disney’s ‘The Emperor’s New Groove’ which, to my mind, is grossly underrated.

3. TV/Internet

The ‘interweb’ is a bottomless pit of anything from highbrow documentaries to dumb TikTok challenges. I consider myself to be more of a middle-ground kind of person. I enjoy watching live comedy shows (especially Ricky Gervais, Joe Lycett and Hannah Gadsby), British sitcoms (Only Fools and Horses, Fawlty Towers, Blackadder) and the occasional documentary, usually about history or animals. I am also an advocate of making good use of websites that help with one’s work or studies. In my case, these would include: Meludia, and other websites from where one can download a plethora of music scores.

4. Music 

Being a musician, I am open to all kinds of music. I cannot say I have a favourite composer or genre, though I have a natural affinity to classical music. I enjoy performing music by a multitude of composers and, as a pianist, when I want to listen to an inspirational interpretation of anything from Baroque to 20th century music, my go-to pianist is Martha Argerich. When it comes to listening to and/or playing more contemporary genres, I think my choice is influenced more by my current mood rather than preference. What I do enjoy is a good riff and solid bassline – Muse, Jamiroquai, Arctic Monkeys and Queen. I find jamming and performing with like-minded musicians is a satisfying experience that is good for my soul, which is why I regularly have such sessions and performances with one of the best Maltese bands, The Tailors.

5. Place  

I am of the persuasion that ‘wherever I lay my hat is home’. If given the time and finances, I would be a globetrotter. I enjoy travelling and seeing the world, experiencing new places and exploring cities as well as places that are off the beaten path. I don’t have a particular place or spot where I feel happier or more comfortable. I do however crave nature and open spaces. This does not mean that I am incapable of appreciating more densely-built places; I adore Valletta and I did spend two wonderful years in Manchester, but the unimaginative architecture of modern buildings leaves me uninspired to say the least.