Sunday, January 31, 2010


The morning tide was as high as the sun and the promenade at Sliema had been flooded by water from the bay. The bus broke down at Msida; we hung around the pavement with the queue for a state lottery booth, then the engine finally caught and we piled back on. Valletta was busy at half past nine - the tide of the city goes out in the evening - and the bench seats were all taken above the Saluting Battery. British marching songs played on a speaker, the water in the harbour glistened white in the sun.

My flight was three times delayed: a flight attendant fell ill, a man in a wheelchair couldn't get on the bus, and there was a brief computer malfunction as we taxied down the runway. The two people next to me were talking in Maltese, their speech peppered with English, "High Barnet, Northern Line...Ryanair, quite a lot cheaper...all the way north...three-hour flight...Durham...University of York".

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