Writing memories

Our children have been brought up with a digital screen on their mobile or laptop. They do not read. They are overwhelmed by the immediacy and voyeurism of the digital world.

File photo
File photo

I am not too sure if there is anyone interested in reading my recollections, in the form of a printed and digital book.

Memoirs is a big word; it denotes closure.

And though I think that my expiry date is getting dangerously closer, I still feel I have some more years of being use- ful.

So, I am desperately writing down notes of memories, episodes, and digging out citations.

It amazing how things suddenly surface from nowhere. It will be a big work, revisiting all that I have written, demolishing many of my myths and those of others and telling it as it is.

I want to be honest with myself and with the reader.

The thing is that while others were rightly having a whale of a time and living their life and setting up a family or business, I was cooped up in the newsroom or in meetings, or contending with people from politics and people in business or civil society.

I was learning how to become a small media czar and trying to be an agenda setter - it felt like I was going to change the world. In reality, the world changed me.

And somehow, I ask myself when did it all kick off. I was never planning to get into the media in the first place. I wanted to be a marine biologist away from the urbanites. I never thought this would be my life.

It all started because at the time, the best and only way to get a message across was to use print. So, I was suddenly immersed in the world of print and of course writing, to be able to convey a message. Change the world through a story... I thought.

But it was and is exciting to be in the media. The technological advances and the learning curve in designing, writing, photography, the transition to digital print were exciting transitions.

The most challenging were not the plethora of defamation cases, but the monetisation of the project and managing people.

That world changed me. And the largest challenge by far, is our relevance as media in the face of a social media onslaught full of frivolous, so-called journalism.

Print is under threat but it still has a future if we appreciate that nothing beats the wordiness of detail and fact-driven material in written format. The print form is a far cry from the hollowness of most digital platforms.

The sad thing, is that reading in the wider sense is not being promoted enough in our schools and in families. Our children have been brought up with a digital screen on their mobile or laptop. They do not read. They are overwhelmed by the immediacy and voyeurism of the digital world.

Today I enter homes and no where do you see a book or a newspaper. A home without a book, is like a body without a heart.
And the only way to reduce that is to impose moratoriums on the use of the mobile and TV.

Wishful thinking on my part, I guess.

Well, in writing my memories I feel saddened by the way we have all changed and embraced the transformation around us without raising questions.

But there are a number of positive things that have come with time. And I am really talking of changes over the last 60 years. 60 years ago, my great grandfather lived in squalor in a slum in lower Valletta, my grandmother had no flushing in her toilet, most people would never travel, in Church the straw chairs were crawling with fleas, some older families had never been to Valletta, let alone to Gozo and the parish priest or Propostu in my case was like a walking prince waiting for women to kiss his glittering red diamond ring.

Rabbit skins were dumped in the corner of streets and the countryside was a permanent dump (still is) with mattresses, and abandoned cars. As children, trapping Robins was our pastime not roaming around Tigne point.

Change is not always bad or dark.

From my subjective perspective, the real positive changes read like this:

1) The establishment of an upcoming solid middle class replacing the stuffy English speaking self-entitled class

2) Home ownership

3) The large number of graduates from all walks of life

4) The standard of living, and the proliferation of new businesses and self-employed.

5) Contempt towards the political class and the Church.

6) A more liberal independent youth

7) Reduction of poverty and unemployment

8) A social welfare state

9) A vibrant cultural scene

10) A very high quality of life

11) Better and cheaper connectivity in travel and digital

12) Accessible educational for all

13) Better opportunities for our kids

14) Gender equality

15) Sexual liberation

These are my kind of positive points. The darker shades of change are far too long to pinpoint here. Surely the environmental challenge is one of them. Claustrophobia and greed are other challenges. But above all, the pretence to preach when we are all sinners - the art of being deceitful.

There is another one very negative thing.

It is the simple disregard for history. Our lack of appreciation of our roots and the stories that made this country and of others makes our younger generation less prepared to accept change or to deal with change or to make the necessary adjustments.

History reminds us of our mistakes as a people, and the fact that we have erased history from our memories makes us more prone to repeat them.

My inconvenient truth - Volume II will be published in 2024.