‘Am I appealing?’ Not for me to say, really…

There is a tendency in this country to use words and expressions without actually knowing what they mean. And judging (ahem) by certain things I happened to have read this very week… this one seems to be another of those widely misunderstood expressions…

I’ve been asked a heck of a lot of odd-ball questions in my time, but… I don’t know, did something happen this week that I might have missed? Because suddenly – after around mid-afternoon last Tuesday, more or less – I started getting inundated with messages from friends, acquaintances (and complete strangers), all asking me questions like:

“Are you appealing?” (Or, even more bizarrely: “I do hope you’re appealing…”)

Erm… how can I put this? Yeah, I kind of ‘hope I’m appealing’, too. Doesn’t everyone? Not, mind you, that I’ve ever really made any particular effort in that direction, myself… I have, after all, been told things like: “Why don’t you cut your hair (or shave your beard)?”… or that my dress-sense is “an atrocity” (I kid you not, that’s an actual quote…)

But…. well, it’s not exactly enough to go on, is it? In the first instance (ahem), because “beauty is in the eye of the beholder”, and all that… which also implies that some people out there might actually like the ‘scruffy hair’ and ‘unkempt clothes’ look (and I know this for a fact, because I am very clearly one of them myself).

And secondly, because ‘beauty’ – or aesthetics in general – is not the only variable in this particular equation. The question of why I cut my hair so rarely, for instance. It never seems to occur to anyone that there may be other, perfectly valid reasons to grow a healthy, abundant head of hair… which have nothing to do with ‘aesthetics’ at all.

These include:

Because, um… I can. While most of the Maltese men my age who ask me that question, very visibly CAN’T. (Yeah, of course they’d all be keen on me ‘getting a haircut’… so they can sneak into the barber’s afterwards, and get themselves a hair-transplant for free…)

Also, because it is rather difficult to headbang to tracks like Joan Jett’s ‘I Love Rock N Roll’… when there’s nothing on your head to actually ‘bang’ anything with. (And if I can no longer headbang to rock music… what would even be the point of existing at all?)

… but also because – and this much should be obvious, what with the COP26 global summit going on in Glasgow right now (got that, Wolf Blitzer? Glasgow… NOT Edinburgh) – we have a collective obligation, as individuals, to do our bit in the global struggle against Climate Change.

In an age when deforestation has already obliterated the natural habitats of millions of different species around the world – and when, in particular, we seem to be doing our utmost to chop down every last tree, develop every last open field, and (in a nutshell) despoil ourselves of every last natural asset that might actually absorb some of the CO2 we are pumping into the atmosphere… I thought I’d offer up my own hair as compensation: you know, a sort of ‘national park’ for all Malta’s displaced birds, bees and other tiny animals to take refuge....

And what: I’m supposed to ‘cut my hair’ – and thus deprive our country’s fragile biodiversity of the last remaining (entirely natural) ecosystem that hasn’t yet been utterly destroyed – just because some people out there find it ‘unappealing’?

You’ve got to be kidding me…

No, indeed. By walking around with the equivalent of the Amazon Rain Forest growing out of my scalp, each and every single day… I feel I’m doing a heck of a lot more to save the planet, right now, than the concerted efforts of all COP 26 countries put together. (And guess what? That’s probably not even an exaggeration…)

The real reason this question is so impossible to answer, however, is that it is ultimately subjective in nature. I believe the technical term for this is a ‘value judgment’… or, as it is defined in this new invention called a ‘dictionary’: “an assessment of something as good or bad in terms of one’s standards or priorities.”

But of course, I could be wrong… because, let’s face it, there is a tendency in this country to use words and expressions without actually knowing what they mean. And judging (ahem) by certain things I happened to have read this very week… this one seems to be another of those widely misunderstood expressions…

In any case: it was roughly midway through my umpteenth, patient attempts to explain all of the above to my (somewhat perplexed) interlocutors, that it suddenly dawned on me….

HANG ON A SECOND HERE! What you’re really asking me is: ‘Are you appealing… against the judgment delivered in court last Monday, in the libel suit I filed against Manuel Delia two years ago, etc.’… isn’t it?

I mean, for crying out loud. Why didn’t you all just say so straight away? It would have saved us lot of necessary digressions and misunderstandings, you know.

But here, at least, the question is a little easier to answer… if nothing else, because:

It’s not subjective.

It’s not a ‘value judgment’.

And it’s not a question that can realistically be answered by anyone other than myself.

Now: it just so happens that the answer is identical to that of another bizarre (or idiotic, to be more precise) question I was asked this week. So I may as well answer the second one first.

‘Why didn’t I write about the judgment in my weekly column last Wednesday (my first opportunity to do so, after it was delivered)’?

Hmm, let’s see now. Could it perchance be for the same reason that I never made any reference at all to this case (except for once: and there were certain extenuating reasons for that) in the entire two years since I filed it?  I.e., because – then as now – the case itself isn’t… over… yet?

And: well, there you have your answer to the first question, too.

Right: enough about how ‘appealing’ I may or may not be, in terms of other people’s standards and priorities… because a rather disturbing thought has suddenly struck me.

My hair. I’ve just described it as ‘the last remaining unspoilt natural ecosystem in Malta’, haven’t I? At a time when certain government ministers seem to be addicted to destroying natural ecosystems, wherever they can find them… and replacing them with multi-storey apartment blocks instead…

Yikes! Sorry, folks, got to dash… I’ve just had a vision of Ian Borg chasing me across the islands with a large pair of garden shears…