T.G.I.Lorna… the Labour candidate speaks in tongues as she dreams of Europe

Where’s the Esperanto version?

The return of a phenomenon
The return of a phenomenon

These campaign videos are quite the novelty: one Labour candidate, long-time activist Lorna Vassallo, is demonstrating her polyglot’s aptitude by presenting herself in German, Spanish, and French. Très européenne, don’t you think?

One wonders whom these videos are meant to impress: Vassallo – a former teacher of languages and examiner for tour guides for the French language – is reading clumpy sentences from an off-camera script, suggesting she can read those pesky Franco-German resolutions complaining about rule of law in Malta.

En Espanol

En Français, naturellement...

Eins, Zwei, Polizei

But how would she fare in telling some dirty saloppe from the S&D to go back to the Provence? And forget the bad lighting, bad audio, and the poor graphics: is the average Labour voter impressed by her grasp of languages? (Vassallo probably is banking on the expat vote whose political compass is clearly determined by candidates’ fluency in a European language).

Clearly her local activism as a secretary for the Labour committee in Mgarr, her hometown, brought her little luck in general election outings: 278 votes in 2003, 480 in 2008, and – mein Beileid – just 129 votes in the great year of 2013. “It is for this reason that Prime Minister Joseph Muscat invited her to be nominated as candidate for the European Parliament Elections 2019,” her campaign website declares.

The real delight for those who only know Vassallo now that she is planning her incursion into Brussels, is the period some time in 2004-2006 during which she was a Times columnist.

To fully appreciate the mirth that was dispensed every time Vassallo’s column was published, readers must trawl the blog of Jacques Rene Zammit – click the link here. Every week, Vassallo’s grammatical gobbledygook earned itself a second spin on Zammit’s blog, who baptised the series T.G.I.L (Thank God It’s Lorna).

It was only many moons later that Vassallo realised that the Maltese blogosphere had gone nuts over her tragic columns, that she finally gave Zammit, then a référendaire in the EU’s Court of Justice, a somewhat unoriginal soubriquet – ‘Luxembourger who smells of Gozo cheese’.

Even Daphne Caruana Galizia (still pre-Running Commentary) was compelled to write in to The Times, paying her sardonic compliments to the editors for brightening up her Thursdays…

“Is Lorna Vassallo real, or is her column a spoof? […] The latest piece was particularly delightful, and cheered me up no end on a rather dull morning,” she wrote while quoting some vintage Lorn-ese. “‘I’ has lived in me for the last 30 years or so by now and knows no other body but mine. My mind operates in female packaging, adapts reflexes and movements for female attire and reacts in a female way to both fellow females’ and males’ actions and remarks,” it began. I suppose she meant to say that because she’s a woman, she thinks, dresses and reacts like one.”

Beyond the satire, Vassallo has also carried out translations of French texts for the stage, published the series ‘Maltese Through English’, and more recently was appointed to a post – ça va sans dire – in the Maltese foreign ministry, where her work also includes the background preparation for all official visits overseas of the Prime Minister, the President of the Republic and the Minister for Foreign Affairs.

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