ISSUE137∫ March2016 PINK ISSUE137∫ March2016
ALCOHOL, MARIJUANA & TOBACCO TOGETHER Harmful effects worse for women
Pushing reading In the name of the son
INSPIRATIONAL ISLAND For best-selling novelist
Do female authors face sexism? UNFAIRLY CATEGORISED AS FLUFFY & LIGHT…
BOOKS ARE LIKE PEOPLE WHY WE SHOULDN’T LEND THEM TO OTHERS
FEATURES 12 PrivateEye a story of wonder Pushing kids to read 18 InFocus the female word Are women writers pigeonholed? 23 WomensWorld girl power in the past Maltese trailblazing ladies through history
FASHION 32 ShowStopper khaki, camouflage & cropped Neutral… but naughty 44 TheUniform trend predictions Hot off the Fashion Weeks 48 FashionStory art in everything The Eva capsule collection
HEALTH 59 InThePink the Paceville project Girls are more sensitive to clubbing 68 HealthBites 71 PinkShrink do the right thing All about integrity 73 ParentingTips telling ‘stories’? The truth about why children lie 77 RelationTips alpha & omega A global phenomenon of a Christian course
REGULARS 9 EditorsNote 10 MailShot 27 WomanKind from serf to sovereign Empress Catherine I of Russia 42 ThinkPink fashion, food & events 53 ReadingRoom the flapper girl flies When a novel goes to Hollywood 66 ThinkPink health & beauty 80 GirlTalk the book thief Paperbacks are like people 85 WomenOnWheels The test [drive] of time Suzuki Vitara 87 StarGazer the future is pink Horoscopes 89 SnapShot the face Nicole Ebejer
COVER Photography Bernard Polidano ∫ Styling Marisa Grima [www.marisagrima.com] ∫ Hair Dominic Bartolo ∫ Make-up Natasha Polidano ∫ Model Claire @ Supernova Model Management
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So we’ve finally been aroused to the realisation that happy endings are not confined to storybooks and fairy tales. They can happen to anyone and they’re coming to a street near you. It wasn’t long after they started mushrooming around Malta that the tacky Chinese massage parlours began to attract my attention… for the wrong reasons, of course. I was over that teenage enthusiasm towards unhygienic Thai massages on the beach, with the slippery hands of any Tom, Dick, or Harry moving from one body, and particularly its feet, to the next, transporting skin conditions along the coast through a cheap-looking massage oil. It soon became obvious to me that there could be a price to pay for 30 minutes of relaxation if you put yourself in the wrong hands of anyone but the expert. And that also applied to the more clinical and cleaner environments in the lusher salons of beauty therapists, where women in white coats, but zero training and experience under their belt, were passed off as masseuses and rubbed your back
mechanically for an endless hour, leaving you more stressed out than before. Being, thus, rather picky in the massage department, the outbreak of parlours in Malta never really tickled my fancy. And maybe they weren’t meant to, given that they are offering services that would appeal more to older men. It took a while for the rest to cotton on, or at least to consider action against the brothels in bad disguise. And now there seems to be some sort of a drive to regulate them. So what exactly does that mean? That they can continue to spread, operate and contaminate as long as they are not wearing an innocent mask? That would not be good enough. Once upon a time, these parlours were concentrated in busy roads and areas; now you stumble upon them everywhere and where you’d least expect them, from village back roads and residential areas to main thoroughfares. The ground floor of a seafront block of apartments by the familyfrequented promenade, for example, has been populated by one, and I wonder what effect that would have on the property and the location… The other day, I was driving my toddler to an afternoon activity and, lo and behold, there loomed another Chinese massage parlour. Only this time, it wasn’t even trying to pretend to be one. Outside stood three loitering prostitutes, horribly ugly, but all smiles, making eyes at the passers-by and even at me. Men in gold chains were stopping their cars in excitement and causing traffic jams as they fumbled through their wallets to see if
they could gather enough change for a happy, or an even happier, ending. So have we now reached the point where it is OK to have this sort of activity everywhere and anywhere? All Malta will soon be a down-and-out red-light district, with all the low-lifes, dirt and general ugliness these no-go zones attract. Then again, we could turn this into a lucrative tourism niche market and soon start competing with Amsterdam. And hey, why not even aim to be the best in Europe. Forget financial services… Foreplay is the way forward and the future. For all we know, we could soon start being labelled the “whorehouse in the Med” and we can start selling ourselves as the island of sun, sea… and sex! Mhux xorta… As long as the tourists come. Meanwhile, in the March issue of Pink, the happy endings are, indeed, confined only to the conclusions of storybooks – and that’s not even always guaranteed. The Bookishue looks into whether female writers face sexism and why there is such a thing as ‘women’s fiction’, but not ‘men’s’ [InFocus on page 18]; how Malta was the inspiration for a best-selling author whose later novel is about to be turned into a Hollywood movie [ReadingRoom on page 53]; and why a historian has chronicled thousands of years of the country’s trailblazing women [WomensWorld on page 23]. Even GirlTalk on page 80 talks about the human side of books in a story about loss… which ends with finding. Now that’s a happy ending!
March 20, 2016 ∫ Pink is a monthly magazine ∫ Issue 137 ∫ Executive editor Fiona Galea Debono ∫ Publisher Allied Newspapers Ltd ∫ Printing Progress Press Ltd ∫ Production Allied Newspapers Ltd ∫ Contributors Dominic Bartolo, Claudia Calleja, Kristina Chetcuti, Andrea Faye Christians, Edward Curmi, Claire Diacono, Mary Galea Debono, Marisa Grima, Caroline Paris, Natasha Polidano, Helen Raine, Stephanie Satariano, Virginia, Shelley Von Strunckel ∫ Design Manuel Schembri ∫ Photography Kurt Paris, Bernard Polidano, Chris Sant Fournier, Elisa von Brockdorff ∫ Advertising sales Veronica Grech Sant [2559 4706; firstname.lastname@example.org].
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© 2016. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole, or in part, without written permission of the publishers, is prohibited.
Pink March 2016 ∫ 9
THE LETTER THAT TICKLED PINK AN EXCEPTIONAL YOUNG LADY I always look forward to reading the magazines that come out with The Sunday Times of Malta. It’s a time of relaxation in the afternoon, reading great articles that are found in Pink and other publications. In today's issue [January 2016], I enjoyed the story about the brave young lady Sam Pearson [Against the Odds, PrivateEye], who although burdened by an incurable disease [Huntington's], remains positive about it and is carrying on with her life in a normal way. Above all, keeping a diary that is inspired by being positive and publishing the book Triumphant Against the Odds is a feat that makes Sam stand out as an exceptional young lady. I am really looking forward to reading her self-help book and I hope many young people are encouraged by her positive message that life is beautiful! JOSETTE SCICLUNA VIA E-MAIL
The writer of the letter of the month wins a Montblanc Emblem Intense eau de toilette and Montblanc Lady Emblem eau de parfum, courtesy of Chemimart; a pedicure, courtesy of Roseberry; PLUS a selection of Deborah Milano make-up products from A.M.Mangion Ltd.
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APPRECIATING LIFE IN A DIFFERENT WAY Dear Editor, I take the opportunity to thank you all for the latest issue [January 2016] of Pink. It is one of the few locally produced magazines that is loved by many. Although I am a regular reader myself, I rarely send letters, or e-mails to you. In fact, this is only my second participation in over 130 issues, and I hope that on this occasion, my letter will be the lucky pick. I have browsed the Campari website and noticed the 2016 calendar is beautiful and will surely adorn my husband’s garage wall, which is ﬁlled with posters of beautiful cars. Having this calendar will deﬁnitely draw in some comments from his friends, who gather over the weekend at our garage and then proceed to show off their nicely polished cars for all eyes to watch with pleasure. The two articles I enjoyed reading most were Snapshot with Fox Daniels [Expect the Unexpected] and Private Eye [Against the Odds] – two write-ups that make you appreciate life in a different way. How good it is to be positive in life. I also enjoyed the review of the Lexus NX [WomenOnWheels] in view of the fact that my husband is interested in getting an SUV. This model is environment-friendly and will surely serve him well for his daily travelling. I brought the article to his attention too and he told me it is very diﬃcult to decide on the many SUV models this time round, although his choice is likely to be the Kadjar from Renault. While looking forward to the next issue, I take the opportunity to wish you all the best in life, but mainly good health. MARIA CARMELA SANT FROM MOSTA
WE DON’T NEED FALSITY So, which was the article that tickled me pink in the February issue? Was it Kristina Chetcuti’s A Match Made in Heaven… or Earth? [LifeStyle], with a pinch of tradition and modern-day trends intertwined? Or Helen Raine's A Little Pink Pill [InFocus], which opened our eyes wide to dangers we may be exposed to in the medicinal market? Mary Galea Debono’s The light of Hussein [WomanKind] really made an interesting read for it showed the different lifestyle a woman chose in the name of love. And here we go, protesting against imposed genital mutilation in what we term backward countries when some women are seemingly ready to undergo procedures reminiscent of these, according to Linda Briggs in the article No Pussyfooting Around [BeautyParlour]. I’m sure that Silent Condition [InThePink] brought muchneeded awareness to the real dangers of osteoporosis, while Edward Curmi gave the real meaning to the words ‘soul mate’ [PinkShrink]. Puppy Love [ParentingTips] by Stephanie Satariano and Seize the Date Day [RelationTips] by Helen Raine were in keeping with February’s Valentine mood, while The Other Side of February [GirlTalk] struck a chord since I know what it feels like when a child’s exams are approaching. So, which was the article that tickled me pink in the February issue? Actually, though all the above made for a good and interesting read, I actually liked the editorial [EditorsNote] best of all. Fiona Galea Debono echoed my exact sentiments when she wrote about Fakebook aka Facebook. In a world that is giving more and more importance to a person’s exterior rather than what they are really like inside, this social media instrument cannot be more accommodating. Some Facebook users undoubtedly thrive on seeing how many likes they get when they post some picture of their ‘happy’ moments; and when posting sad moments in their life, they get their boost from how much sympathy they elicit. Sentiments are being revealed to all and sundry – at times, unfortunately, revealing the dark side of people. Some say they only use Facebook to check events and university updates, but who hasn’t peeked at the goings-on of ‘friends’? I am glad to say that I, too, am in the minority and am not a Facebook user. In my opinion, it has destroyed genuineness; we don’t need falsity, but real sentiments, real emotions and real people. MARLENE SCICLUNA VIA E-MAIL
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Family album: Brian Abela, his wife Claudine and their son Eric.
“AS BRIAN SAW HOW THE MAGIC OF STORYTELLING FUELLED HIS STUDENTS’ IMAGINATION, HE STARTED THINKING MORE AND MORE ABOUT THE STORY OF THE MAGIC PONDS”
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A STORY OF
What started out as a 250-word creative writing assignment, written by an 11-year-old, gradually evolved into his 250-page children’s book. Author Brian Abela tells CLAUDIA CALLEJA how the birth of his son, Eric – who has a rare syndrome – gave him the push he needed to publish The Ponds of Wonder, which he is now sharing with children to instil in them a passion for reading.
hen Brian Abela’s Grade 7 teacher asked the class to write a one-page story about whatever they wanted, he sat at his desk with his blank foolscap in front of him. Then an idea popped into his mind – a story of adventure and magical realms. That was the day he started the story he is still telling today – to encourage children to read. “I never thought I’d be considered a writer. Funnily enough, till this day, I still remember so clearly how it started. I had received the assignment. We were left to our own devices. I remember coming up with the idea of these ponds that would take the main character, Tom, to different realms. However, at the time, I hadn’t ﬁgured out what would happen to him when he got there. I had written an extremely basic version of the story that it is today,” he recalls. “I still remember getting it back after it was corrected and seeing an A at the top of the page. It felt great. It was a story that remained at the back of my mind all this time,” says Brian, who recently turned 45.
A dormant story As a child, who was raised by Maltese parents in Canada, Brian always loved reading and particularly enjoyed science ﬁction, fantasy and comic books. Back then, there wasn’t the computer technology there is today. This meant he entertained himself in three ways as a child: playing in the street outside his home, watching television… and reading. Brian was always interested in learning and education. As the years rolled on, he graduated from high school and university in Canada, emigrated to Malta at the age of 23, where he ﬁnished his training in education, and became a primary school teacher. The story about the magic ponds remained simmering at the back of his mind. “It didn’t disappear. But for
many years, it never felt it was the right time to write it. I never really had the time,” he says. “It only started to re-ﬂourish once I got into a classroom environment and started to teach children. This time, I was on the other side of the desk, giving the assignment,” says Brian, who today is an assistant head at San Anton School.
Imagination unleashed During his years teaching in primary school, he often gave his students the assignment he was given in Grade 7 – to write any story they liked. And just as this had unleashed his imagination, the same happened in his classroom. He recalls how, one time, he placed a classroom chair on a desk in the middle of the room and told his students that it was a “marvellous magic chair”. Every pupil took a turn to sit on it and share their own magical journey. He then asked them to write a short story about their adventure. “A few weeks back, I was clearing some storage boxes. I came across this collection of stories called The Marvellous Magic Chair. The father of a student I had taught had bound them all together. Those students are adults now. I posted it on Facebook. Many remembered the lesson and had enjoyed the activity. Thinking about it puts a smile on my face,” he says. As Brian saw how the magic of storytelling fuelled his students’ imagination, he started thinking more and more about the story of the magic ponds. “I started typing away. I wrote the ﬁrst chapter. Then I redrafted it about three or four times,” he says.
The birth of Eric Then, in 2006, he got the push he needed. That year, his wife, Claudine, gave birth to their son Eric. “He was a catalyst to get the book out there,” he says as he goes on to add that his son’s birth was a challenging time. Pink March 2016 ∫ 13
PRIVATEEYE when it’s clearly the teacher in me talking. Even the idea of respect shines through – I’m very big on that. I often tell my students: ‘What’s Mr Brian’s favourite word?’ They answer: ‘Respect.’ I respond: ‘Great, now you know it, it’s time to show it.’”
A love for reading
Eric, who is now nine years old, was born three months premature and is visually impaired. When he was ﬁve years old, they were told he had a very rare condition called Mowat Wilson Syndrome [MWS]. “Over the short span of his young life, Eric has had to undergo a number of medical interventions, painful treatments and extreme challenges in reaching milestones that every typically developing child can easily achieve. Eric needs continuous therapy for his core development,” Brian says. Seeing his young son soldier through inspired him to keep going and, in 2011, The Ponds of Wonder was ﬁnally published, with illustrations by Danny Coleiro.
“OVER THE SHORT SPAN OF HIS YOUNG LIFE, ERIC HAS HAD TO UNDERGO A NUMBER OF MEDICAL INTERVENTIONS, PAINFUL TREATMENTS AND EXTREME CHALLENGES IN REACHING MILESTONES THAT EVERY TYPICALLY DEVELOPING CHILD CAN EASILY ACHIEVE” Throughout the writing journey, Claudine, who is also an educator, supported his desire and provided a sounding board for the ideas he exchanged with her in order to offer his readers a well-rounded story. ‘‘It was wonderful to watch Brian sit at his computer and type away. His passion for getting children to enjoy reading is second only to the passion he has for his son’s development,” she says. The book tells the story of Tom and his best friend Ben. The two embark on an adventure of a lifetime when Tom receives a mysterious painting from a missing relative. Brian notes that, as he was writing the story, the teacher inside him had a lot to say. “There are moments in the story 14 ∫ Pink March 2016
As a father and educator, Brian wanted to do more with his book. He wanted to use it to spread the love for reading. He started visiting schools to promote it and talk about the storytelling process. He also set up a website, which he uses as a platform to hold annual reading challenges and competitions to inject more excitement into the reading experience. Then, in 2013, he converted the book into digital format – something that allows him to get it out to children around the world. He revamped the illustrations – now by Ariana Bezzina – and slightly tweaked the story to expand on certain scenes. Going digital also allowed him to have more fun with it by transforming it into a code book and encouraging children to ﬁll in online surveys to participate in the competitions. This year, he is embarking on another project with the aim of getting more books into children’s hands. Entitled the Books for School Library Project, he is donating 40 per cent of the money made from the sale of his books in schools back to each participating school – to buy more books for their libraries.
The story continues… “I’m an avid believer in the power of reading. Children need a solid foundation in reading skills. I believe in giving them the opportunity to read and to be free in their writing. Let them read whatever they like, so long as they’re sitting and reading and learning and broadening their minds and stimulating their imagination. “As parents, we need to be aware that there is a lot out there that’s distracting them and we have to be the ones to instil and encourage healthy reading habits,” he says. “My book is there to get children to read and give them another story to read. For me, helping other children to read and helping my son are two important goals that go hand in hand,” he says, adding that he uses funds he collects from the sale of his book, which retails at €3, to support his son’s developmental needs. Eric is also inspiring elements of The Ponds of Wonder sequel, which he is currently working on. “There are going to be episodes of personal challenge for Tom. He’ll be visiting another realm. One of the underlying themes is going to be acceptance and inclusion – possibly because of Eric and what is happening in the world today,” Brian says. Any schools wishing to participate in the Books for School Library Project, or anyone interested in learning more about the story can visit www.thepondsofwonder.com
The Female Word
HELEN RAINE questions whether women writers are being dismissed and pigeonholed purely on the basis of their gender.
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few years ago, acclaimed author V.S. Naipaul did women authors a huge favour. He wrote: “I read a piece of writing and within a paragraph or two I know whether it is by a woman or not. I think it is unequal to me.” This, he says, is due to a female’s “sentimentality, the narrow view of the world”. And to hammer the point home, he adds: “Inevitably for a woman, she is not a complete master of a house, so that comes over in her writing too.” These comments, written by a man described as the “greatest living writer of English prose”, served to remind the literary world that women writers are being dismissed and pigeonholed purely because of their gender. And it’s not the first time that this has happened. Almost two decades ago, Harper’s Magazine published Francine Prose’s essay Scent of a Woman’s Ink [based on the quote by novelist Norman Mailer that the “sniffs I get from the ink of women” are essentially all bad – “fey, old hat, crippled, frigid… Or else bright and stillborn”]. Everyone had presumed we’d moved on since then. But maybe, this is not the case.
Sub-category; women Just the term ‘women’s fiction’ sets the tone. It’s ubiquitous, cropping up in newspaper reviews, in the genres section of Amazon, in Goodreads and at the bookshop. But what does it mean? There’s no corresponding term for men – they are allowed to exist in the ‘action and adventure’, ‘classics’, or ‘literary’ sections in their own right. So the term becomes a catch-all for writers who happen to be female, with the not-sosubtle insinuation being that the work is likely to be a bit fluffy, light on substance and certainly not great literature.
fiction. Look at The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides. If I had written that, it would have had a pink, fluffy cover on it. If Jenny Eugenides had written it, it would have had a pink fluffy cover on it,” Picoult says. Instead, these books receive critical acclaim, while she remains trapped in ladyliterature land. “When people call The Storyteller chick lit, I actually break up laughing. Because that is the worst, most depressing chick lit ever,” she says.
Get behind the men In The Sydney Morning Herald, Jane Sullivan reveals some statistics that make sobering reading for any wannabe female writer. She says: “Women write about half the books published. Sixty-two per cent of publishers are women [although most senior roles are held by men]. Women make up 80 per cent of fiction readers. And according to British research, they buy almost twice as many books of all kinds as men do.” Despite that, Sullivan discovered that: “The New York Times Book Review reviewed nearly two books by men to everyone by a woman… The New Republic reviewed 55 books by men and nine by women. At The New Yorker it was 33 books by men, nine by women. At The Times Literary Supplement, 1,036 books by men and 330 by women.” Author Catherine Nichols explored this gender bias further by sending her novel, under her own name, to dozens of agents, and then, like the Brontë sisters in their day, sending six queries under a male pseudonym. The results were shocking. She says on the website Jezebel.com that “within 24 hours ‘George’ had five responses – three manuscript requests and two warm rejections praising his exciting
“WOMEN WRITE ABOUT HALF THE BOOKS PUBLISHED. SIXTY-TWO PER CENT OF PUBLISHERS ARE WOMEN [ALTHOUGH MOST SENIOR ROLES ARE HELD BY MEN]. WOMEN MAKE UP 80 PER CENT OF FICTION READERS. AND ACCORDING TO BRITISH RESEARCH, THEY BUY ALMOST TWICE AS MANY BOOKS OF ALL KINDS AS MEN DO” Best-selling author Jodi Picoult makes an angry case against ‘women’s fiction’ in The Telegraph, saying: “Women’s fiction doesn’t mean that’s your audience. Unfortunately, it means you have lady parts.” Being labelled as ‘chick lit’ [as her work frequently is, despite its complex, sensitive treatment of difficult topics such as child abuse, gun crime and the Holocaust] is even worse. “If a woman had written One Day [by David Nicholls], it would have been airport
project. For contrast, under my own name, the same letter and pages sent 50 times had netted me a total of two manuscript requests”. She adds that ‘George’ was “eight and a half times better than me at writing the same book”. In some cases, the same agent that had rejected the book from Catherine requested the manuscript from George. Of course, nothing is ever black and white, even when it comes to ink and paper. The reality is that agents are overwhelmingly Pink March 2016 ∫ 19
INFOCUS female, but they are also looking for books they can sell; one of the markets they are trying to crack is the 18 to 35 male, who apparently doesn’t read very much and might be drawn to male authors – getting the right book into this niche might pay dividends. They also have to pitch the book to publishing houses, and while the publishing industry is also majority female, the top dogs are still more likely to be men. Agents wouldn’t be wrong to think that books by men are more likely to be accepted and that the agents themselves will then actually make some money.
Zero for Maltese women? On the face of it, things are not better in Malta. In a Wikipedia list of Notable Maltese Writers, there are 23 males and zero females. Not a single woman is even mentioned in the text until we get to this: “The contemporary scene has also seen the emergence of feminism as a thematic focus, particularly through the work of Simone Inguanez, Nadia Mifsud, Simone Galea, and Clare Azzopardi.” It’s as if women authors exist only when writing inside the female box. Clare Azzo par di
Not all authors agree that the odds are stacked against them, however. Maltese author Clare Azzopardi is an award-winning writer of adult and children’s books and an editor with Merlin Publishers. Her work has been translated in several different languages and published in different countries. “I’ve been publishing since the year 2000, I’ve won many prizes and quite a few male academics have written papers about my work in renowned journals,” she says. 20 ∫ Pink March 2016
“I don’t believe in women’s literature,” she says, adding, “it is true that many publishers are male, and mine is, but I never had anything refused simply because it was written by me as a woman… Oh no way. If ever I had manuscripts that were refused, then it meant they simply were not up to standard.” Of course, Azzopardi has no way of knowing how many of those manuscripts might have been accepted if she submitted them as Karmenu instead of Clare, and it is in the nature of writers to believe that their work is not up to scratch.
of books such as Death in Malta and The White Lady of Marsaxlokk, she says, “I cannot share Jodi Picoult’s annoyance. It is not a problem to be a successful ‘woman writer’. “It certainly has not been my personal experience in the 30-odd years I have been writing and publishing in Australia… that Australian publishing is drastically skewed toward publishing, reviewing and awarding men. Even if the majority of publications and publishing houses to which I submitted material had male editors… my writing was considered for its content and
“MEN WHO DON’T WANT TO READ WOMEN, OR WHO ARE REFUSING TO TAKE US WOMEN SERIOUSLY, ARE PATHETIC AND CHILDISH” Azzopardi is fearless in the face of possible sexism, however. “Men who don’t want to read women, or who are refusing to take us women seriously, are pathetic and childish. Then again, it’s their problem not mine.” Her view of the publishing landscape for women in Malta is relentlessly upbeat. “I believe there are many women writing and publishing now. Take poetry – the best Maltese poets at the moment are definitely women: Claudia Gauci, Nadia Mifsud, Simone Inguanez, to mention only three. If their books are refused, that’s because it’s poetry, not because they are women. And take Leanne Ellul and Lara Calleja, two new and very powerful voices for young adults, who have just published books. Or Rita Saliba, third time winner of the Konkors ghal-letteratura taz-zghazagh.” Azzopardi’s list of successful women writers is a long one. She turns the question of sexism in publishing on its head. “Actually,” she says, “my question is… where are all the men? Probably they are taking care of their children.” Her question echoes the cries of teachers, who find it difficult to interest older boys in reading and are desperate to find writers who can engage with that demographic.
On the up Down Under Back on the other side of the world, Rosanne Dingli, a Maltese woman who emigrated to Australia, agrees with Azzopardi. The prize-winning author
quality, rather than because of, or despite, my gender. Book sales, and the popularity in Australia of our female authors, far outdo those of men.” And she has a different interpretation for the statistics: “Rather than calculated or cynical prejudice, the skew in statistics – [shown as being about 65 per cent in favour of material by men] – might be equally justifiably attributed to fashions and trends in content, emotion, relevance, politics and writing styles. The argument is also valid that everything in the world is skewed towards male predominance.”
Female foot forward Dingli sees great opportunities for women in the upheaval currently being experienced by traditional publishers. “The publishing industry has seen some recent violent changes… most of which are concerned with matters other than gender bias or sexual politics… Electronic and Publishing on Demand have made it very easy for authors to vault traditional pathways… This is a vastly more important shift than literary gender politics… Female writers benefit from the new environment, and are more capable of seeking their own audiences than men. “A number of Australian women writers – myself among them – have found success as independent authors, seeking their own readers internationally, and finding them in great numbers.” If Dingli is right, men might have had a literary advantage in the past – but in the future of publishing, the word is female.
girl power in the past HELEN RAINE chronicles thousands of years of trailblazing women in Malta as seen through the eyes and pen of British author Susanna Hoe.
istorian Susanna Hoe knows a thing or two about girl power; she’s traced powerful Maltese women from the fat ladies of the temple builders to female doctors disguised as men, widows who took over their husband’s professions at a time when women were mostly confined to the home, right up to newspaper owners, carving out a niche in a male-dominated world. The result is a fascinating book, Malta: Women, History, Books and Places, that shows how much women in Malta are capable of – and how much they had to overcome to give us the [almost] equal rights we have today. Your book throws up as many questions as it answers, especially when it comes to the early history of women in Malta. What were the most intriguing questions for you and why? Recreating women’s Susanna Hoe
history inevitably throws up many questions because sources are so scarce. I like to show the reader the questions that have arisen. There is always the hope that someone may have an answer and may let me know… They are all intriguing, but let’s take the case of Donna Eleanora Spadafora, who, in 1662, claimed the right to become a Knight of Malta because of an earlier contract between her father and the Knights. [Hoe explains in her book that “after a lot of toing and froing concerning the validity of the contract, the Knights were obliged to give in and create the first woman Knight of Devotion of their Order”.] How was it that the Knights did not realise that the eldest child
was a girl, already born when the contract was signed? And after Eleanora was successful, what connection did she have with Malta? Did she personally administer the business connection that she inherited? Did she ever travel to Malta? The debate on the ‘fat lady’ statuettes and the attempts by some historians/archaeologists to reappropriate them as male is fascinating. Having studied the evidence, do you think there’s any basis to this, or do the ladies remain resolutely female for you? I was very careful to present both sides of the controversy. As a woman writing women-centred history, of course I would like to think that the statuettes are female, that they represent a time in Malta when females had equal status to males, but I respect the scholars who raise questions. I am not an archaeologist, and I don’t follow the goddess movement. I remain resolutely uncertain! If you had to choose a time to live in that was not the present day, which period was best for women in your view and why? Historians of Malta are very lucky that the legal records of the Gozitan notary Giacomo Zabbara survived and that a Maltese scholar, Stanley Fiorini, has transcribed and translated them because they show that Maltese women living in the period 1486-1497, at least, had legal rights, and exercised them, in a way that is uncertain for later times. I think that is the period I would choose. Pink March 2016 ∫ 23
WOMENSWORLD And what do you feel the worst time was for women? The arrival of the Knights in 1530, with their hypocrisy concerning chastity and their downgrading of the status, generally, of the Maltese, even of the notables [many Knights had mistresses and were also offered the daughters of men who sought favour with them]. Also, the deliberations of the Council of Trent between 1545 and 1563, with their particular implications for women, attempting to confine them to the home. [This was an attempt by the Catholic Church to counter the Protestant Reformation, and the liberalising of religion and culture, taking place in Northern Europe. Hoe says that for Malta, it meant an increase in
Assembly at the Palace in 1945, where the extension of suffrage would be discussed, a right to participate they had fought for. And they won not only the vote, but also the right to stand for election.
Many Maltese became refugees over the years, fleeing to Sicily and beyond to escape Turkish raids and other war; do you think your book will help give a historical context to the influx of refugees that Malta is now experiencing and help people to understand that the island has been a country of immigration and emigration for millennia? Caterina Scappi Helene Buhagiar Anyone who knows anything about Malta’s history, even if it is only through that of their family, “IT IS CLEAR TO ME THAT SHE COULD NOT COPE WITH THE PRIVILEGED will appreciate that, because of its geoBUT RESTRICTED LIFE SHE WAS FORCED BY HER STATUS TO LEAD. I FELT SYMPATHY FOR HER, EVEN THOUGH THE RECORDS SUGGEST graphical position in the heart of the THAT SHE WAS SO IMPOSSIBLE” Mediterranean, immigration and emigration have been part of it for 5,000 or And is there a particular woman that so years. I was conscious of the importhe part piety and family was meant to stands out as a hero – even if she was tance of including stories of refugees to play, and emphasised the confinement not perceived as such at the time? Malta, where it was relevant in order to of women to their homes nominally It’s difficult to know how particular add to that perception. under patriarchal control.] women were perceived in their own You describe the Malta of 1590 as a time because so little, if anything, was Of all the Maltese women that you “melting pot” of races and religions. written about them then, particularly wrote about, whose history struck Women living in Malta were by other women. I suspect that Cateyou most forcibly and why? described by Sieur Jean du Mont rina Scappi was seen as something of a The 18th century was another interestthus: “In the streets you see nothing hero by word of mouth when she set up ing time for women: many had to work but a long black veil instead of a the Casetta delle Donne [the Hospital for the sake of the family’s economy and woman, which covers them entirely for Incurable Women] in 1625; but I we know quite a lot about that, again from Head to Foot”; while at home, wonder how well-known she was in the thanks to Maltese scholars such as he says: “They wear a fine white years following her death in 1643, and Yosanne Vella. But upper-class women smock, plaited at the neck like a how well-known she is today. She is did not have that impetus, or advanman’s shirt, but the opening is so another woman who raises many questage; their lives were confined and those wide that it leaves their shoulders tions, which I have had to leave as such. with spirit became very frustrated. The and Breasts entirely exposed to the best example is Pulcra [Pulcheria] view of the Ravished Beholder.” Have Which woman changed Malta the Testaferrata, born c. 1700. In 1738, she your readers been surprised to dismost in your view? brawled with Francesca Portughes after cover this image of Maltese women? I know that getting women the vote is Mass for reasons that are lost, and there I haven’t had much feedback yet… I not the end of giving them a voice and are at least two other later occasions think it is rather like what happens in creating equality, but it was a start, and when she, as they would say today, ‘lost Islamic countries today, where women three women were responsible: Helene it’. It is clear to me that she could not dress differently at home, and often Buhagiar, Josephine Debono and Mabel cope with the privileged but restricted even under their religious outer Strickland. Mabel is well-known; the life she was forced by her status to lead. garments. I was surprised by the home other two are not. The three of them I felt sympathy for her, even though description and couldn’t quite picture were pretty much six-foot tall and I love the records suggest that she was so it; I suspect he saw it once! to imagine them entering the National impossible. 24 ∫ Pink March 2016
FROM SERF TO SOVEREIGN Empress Catherine I of Russia may have started out as the mistress of Peter the Great, but with time, they became inseparable companions. MARY GALEA DEBONO traces the humble origins of the illiterate serf, who was to become the first of three women to dominate the Russian political scene for the next few decades.
tories of people who from very humble origins and against great odds achieve fame, wealth, power and glory have a lot of appeal. Romantics love ‘rags to riches’ themes because they allow them to continue to believe that fairy tales do exist sometimes. Cynics, on the other hand, tend to reduce success stories to the ability of some individuals to detect and capitalise on a favourable situation. But being in the right place at the right time and recognising and seizing the opportunity when it arises are seldom the sole ingredients in the recipe of success. The story of Martha Skavronskaya, who began life in 1684 as the illegitimate daughter of a Lithuanian peasant in what is today Estonia and ended it in St Petersburg as Empress Catherine I of Russia, demonstrates that the factors that propel a person towards achieving success are often subtle and sometimes incomprehensible. Not much is known about Martha’s early years. Many details about her childhood, which are presented as
facts, cannot be verified; most of them are conflicting; some are merely attempts to add more colour to an already colourful story. According to some sources, her parents were runaway serfs and the father was a grave-digger. By the age of three, both parents had died of the plague. At first, Martha lived with her aunt, but later, Ernst Gluck, a Lutheran pastor in the fortress town of Marienburg in East Prussia, had pity on the destitute girl.
for extending the benefits of education to the servant girl and, although he did teach her catechism, the orphan remained illiterate all her life. Martha grew up into an attractive adult, and it seems that the pastor’s wife, seeing the danger that her own son might start an affair with the ser-
“MARTHA GREW UP INTO AN ATTRACTIVE ADULT, AND IT SEEMS THAT THE PASTOR’S WIFE, SEEING THE DANGER THAT HER OWN SON MIGHT START AN AFFAIR WITH THE SERVANT, ARRANGED A MARRIAGE WITH A SWEDISH SOLDIER FROM THE SAME GARRISON TOWN”
He took her home and brought her up as one of the members of his large family. When she grew older, she was kept in the family, working as a servant girl and nursemaid for the younger children, thus contributing to her keep. Gluck was a learned man and a linguist; his own children had a resident tutor. But he saw no reason
vant, arranged a marriage with a Swedish soldier from the same garrison town. Eight days after the wedding, Marienburg fell to the Russians, the Swedish troops withdrew, Martha was abandoned and her marriage came to an abrupt end. Soon after the surrender to the Russians, Gluck crossed the enemy Pink March 2016 ∫ 27
WOMANKIND lines with his family and household and presented himself to the commander of the Russian troops, Field Marshal Sheremetev. Gluck offered to serve as a translator. The commander, it seems, listened with feigned interest to what the pastor had to offer, but all the time, he focused his attention on the dark-haired, dark-eyed girl, who formed part of the pastor’s household. When he asked who she was, he was told she was only the servant. Sheremetev sent Gluck and his family to Moscow, but informed him that he would keep Martha as he needed a housekeeper. For the next six months, Martha accompanied the commandant on his campaigns. It is possible that she also shared his bed. Sheremetev was not the only person to play an important role in Martha’s meteoric rise to power. There was also Alexander Menshikov, Czar Peter’s personal adjutant. Both of them had been his boyhood friends; both of them remained all their lives his trusted and loyal companions. Their relationship went back to the Czar’s early years, which he spent in a small village outside Moscow, where he had been practically exiled by his half-sister.
friend Menshikov, but this is not very likely as, in that period, the latter was already engaged to the woman he married shortly afterwards. In 1704, Martha gave birth to a son, and soon after, she was received into the Orthodox Church, adopting the name Ekaterina. The child, like the other 10 out of the 12 Catherine bore Peter, did not survive beyond childhood. Peter had embarked on the building of St Petersburg, which was to be his new capital. To supervise the construction of this ambitious undertaking, he built himself a small three-roomed house, and when he and Catherine were not in their palace in Moscow, it was here, in this tiny cabin, that he lived with her and his growing family. Here, Catherine cooked and looked after the children, while he tended the garden. It was also in St Petersburg, in the newly built Cathedral of the Holy Trinity, that in 1707, he married Catherine in a private ceremony, having divorced his first wife from whom he had long been estranged, and abandoned his mistress, Anna Mons. Whenever possible, Catherine accompanied Peter on his campaigns. These were no pleasPeter the Great ure trips; they involved much
with her, but he gave her the possibility to choose between him and his friend and she opted for the change. Probably, she felt more at ease with the peasant Menshikov than with the aristocratic Sheremetev. She lived with her new master for some months and accompanied him, whenever possible, on his travels throughout Russia. Peter met Martha for the first time when he arrived unexpectedly at Menshikov’s headquarters in 1703.
“IT WAS NORMAL FOR THE RUSSIAN CZAR TO DEMAND THE COMPANY OF ANY WOMAN TO WHOM HE TOOK A FANCY, AND NATURALLY, NOBODY DARED DENY HIM HIS WISHES” As a young boy, Peter loved playing at soldiers and one of his favourite pastimes was organising his playmates into boy ‘armies’. For these, he recruited not only the sons of the courtiers, but also village boys. Both the aristocratic Sheremetev and the peasant and illiterate Menshikov had formed part of Peter’s ‘toy regiments’. One day, Menshikov arrived at Sheremetev’s headquarters. He was immediately struck by the young woman in the commandant’s camp and it is said that he actually paid money to buy her. As a servant, Martha’s status was that of a serf, and in 18th-century Russia, serfs were chattels that could be bought or sold. Sheremetev was not happy to part 28 ∫ Pink March 2016
She was one of several women serving the officers at supper. Peter’s orderly, a Breton soldier by the name of De Villabois, gives a vivid account of this meeting: “The Sovereign,” he wrote, “looked at her often, questioned her, found her intelligent and finished his jesting with her by saying that when he retired to bed it must be she who carried the torch to his room. It was an order without appeal, although delivered with a smile.” It was normal for the Russian Czar to demand the company of any woman to whom he took a fancy, and naturally, nobody dared deny him his wishes. Some historians believe that after this meeting, for a time, the Czar shared Martha’s favours with his
hardship and were often dangerous. But Catherine manifested no fear; on the contrary, in times of crisis, she became a source of reassurance for Peter. After one particularly disastrous campaign against the Turks, in 1711, her support earned her his admiration, and in gratitude, he publicly solemnised his marriage thus making her his official consort. That the marriage of Peter and Catherine was a very successful one is largely due to the latter. She turned out to be eminently suited to this unorthodox monarch, who had no patience for pomp and ceremony and disliked ostentation and luxury. She may have started as his mistress, but with time, they became inseparable companions
WOMANKIND and he was devoted to her. Catherine was not only charming, but she was also a good listener, lively, energetic and above all compassionate. She shared his interests and tastes. Although illiterate, she possessed not only a natural intelligence, which helped her to understand his nature and needs, but also tact that allowed her to realise the limits beyond which she could not go.
But there was also another side to his character and this comes out in his correspondence with her. His letters reveal his strong affection towards the only woman capable of filling his life with joy and adding a touch of lightheartedness to the dreariness of his life. During his epileptic fits, it was only Catherine who was capable of allaying his pains. She could detect their onset because they were usually preceded by
Peter was always faithful; aware that nothing threatened her position, it is said that Peter sometimes started affairs with her blessing. In 1724, Peter the Great placed the imperial crown on his wife’s head, thus consolidating her official position and signifying his wish that she was to follow him on the throne should she outlive him. Catherine had no hereditary rights to the Russian throne, but
“AWARE THAT NOTHING THREATENED HER POSITION, IT IS SAID THAT PETER SOMETIMES STARTED AFFAIRS WITH HER BLESSING” She was “the companion of his heart”; the only one capable of making him laugh; the only one he could trust and rely on for his well-being. Although Peter was a man of vision, there was a dark streak in his character. He was coarse in his personal habits, brutal in his relationships and cruel towards his enemies. He was capable of destructive violence and uncontrolled rages. Only Catherine was able to restrain him in these explosive situations.
violent headaches. When it happened, she would caress his head, putting her fingers through his hair and his brow against her chest until he fell asleep, and she would stay still for hours not to disturb him. When he woke up, his nightmares would have disappeared. Catherine had no political ambitions and she did not allow anyone to use her position to gain influence through her. She knew that she had a hold on Peter and was secure in his affections. This does not mean that
supported by Menshikov, who was eager to safeguard his position and perhaps also his life, she was crowned Empress in 1725 after Peter’s death. It was a short reign because she died, aged 43, of tuberculosis, two years later. Catherine did not manage to consolidate Peter’s work, but she was the first of three women who were to dominate the Russian political scene for the next few decades. The other two were her daughter Empress Elizabeth I and her successor Catherine the Great.
Khaki, camouﬂage & cropped Neutral… but naughty Photography Bernard Polidano Styling Marisa Grima [www.marisagrima.com] Hair Dominic Bartolo Make-up Natasha Polidano Models Claire @ Supernova Model Management
Top, €159; jeans, €219, both Liu Jo ∫ necklace, €14.99, Pull & Bear ∫ bracelets, €15, Aldo.
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Dress, €39.99; coat, €49.99, both Pull & Bear ∫ shoes, €85, Aldo.
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Jacket, €119.95, Marks & Spencer ∫ dress, €60, Oasis.
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SHOWSTOPPER Jacket, €162; skirt, €126; bag, €126, all Guess ∫ shoes, €119; scarf, €20, both Aldo.
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Dress, €85; sunglasses, €25, both Marks & Spencer ∫ belt, stylist’s own.
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Dress, €87, Warehouse @ Debenhams ∫ bag, €55, Aldo ∫ shoes, model’s own.
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Jacket, €29.99; shorts, €14.99, both Pull & Bear ∫ shirt, €45, Marks & Spencer.
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Sweatshirt, €99.90; culottes, €149, both Tommy Hilﬁger ∫ shoes, €49, Aldo.
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FASHION, FOOD & EVENTS
EASTER INDULGENCE AT TA’ MARIJA
Celebrate Easter with your family and friends at Ta’ Marija. Join the Muscat family for a taste of local delicacies, with a sumptuous carvery buffet at only €32.50. Ta’ Marija promises an indulging gastronomic experience, with an assortment of over 50 Maltese and Mediterranean delicacies, prepared by its awardwinning chefs. To complete the experience, entertainment will be provided by strolling mandolins and guitars. And don’t forget the all-inclusive buffet nights every Saturday, complete with entertainment, as well as the Sunday family lunches at only €25.
NEW DYNAMIC LOGO
After 16 years, Teamsport has rebranded with a new dynamic logo that reflects the company’s image. Since its inception in 1999, Teamsport has built a reputation as Malta’s top technical sport shop, providing a vast selection of technical products for sports such as football, futsal, running, basketball, volleyball, combat sports, tennis, athletics and swimming. Moreover, Teamsport is the only shop in Malta that provides both Nike and Adidas, which are undoubtedly the world’s best sports brands. Apart from these, Teamsport offers other top brands such as Asics, Babolat, Corsport, Diadora, Gammasport, Garmin, High Power, Legar, Leone, Macron, Mcdavid, Molten, Reebok, Sixtus, Speedo and Uhlsport. The employees at Teamsport are trained to provide expert advice to each customer, from professional athletes to normal sports enthusiasts. All these factors provide a unique buying experience to the customer. Teamsport’s flagship store can be found at Dun Karm Street in Iklin on top of Gallarija Darmanin.
2016 JAMESON LIMITED EDITION
Each year, in the lead up to St Patrick’s Day, Jameson collaborates with some of Ireland’s finest artists and illustrators in creating a limited-edition bottle. These celebrate some of Dublin’s unique expressions, locations and icons. The 2016 Limited Edition Bottle was designed by Dublin-based street artist James Earley, who comes from a long line of stained glass makers. Through his street art, James's unique stained glassinspired style has become a part of the colourful tapestry of the city. His original design, which was inspired by its bridges, celebrates connectivity at home and abroad. Like Jameson’s own work, James’s career has led him all over the world, but he has always returned to Dublin for inspiration. Jameson is marketed and distributed by Farsons Beverage Imports Co. Ltd. www.jamesonwhiskey.com; www.facebook.com/Jameson.Malta/ 42 ∫ Pink March 2016
SAVE THE DATE: COLOUR FEST
Valletta Waterfront will host a fun-packed weekend for the whole family between April 15 and 17. The iconic coloured doors of Valletta Waterfront have been the inspiration for this event, which, together with the historic Grand Harbour, will serve as a backdrop for the weekend. Activities include live bands, spring/summer fashion shows, children’s crafts and entertainment and more. Parking at Valletta Waterfront has never been so easy with both free and flat-rate parking available. www.vallettawaterfront.com/colourfest
CLOSER TO SUMMER STYLE
Stradivarius takes us on a summer holidays with its new campaign, a retreat to a warm and eclectic ambience to illustrate the Spring/Summer 2016 trends. The campaign, photographed by Bèla Adler and Salvador Fresneda, brings us closer to a summer trip in which the days are long and relaxing, and the light infuses the space in an undisturbed and delicate way. The colours that prevail are shades of pink and sky blue, together with indigo and white, without forgetting denim, which is always to be found in the collections of Stradivarius. Among the prominent trends are the 1990s, with their mom-fit jeans as the key item of the season; and colourful stripes, fleeing from the classic sailor version. Footwear with wooden soles and vivid colours is the key to complete these outfits. Stradivarius is at The Point, Sliema, and St Lucy Street, Valletta.
KIDS’ PAINTING COMPETITION
The Malta Baby & Kids Directory team has launched its latest painting competition, sponsored by Faber-Castell, for children aged between four and 14. This year, one of these paintings could feature on the cover of the next Malta Baby & Kids Directory – the 10th edition, which will be launched in the beginning of July 2016. The competition, with the theme Saving Malta’s Unique Environment, is being sponsored by AFE Trading Limited, local representatives for Faber-Castell, which actively contributes to protecting the environment by minimising its environmental footprint throughout the entire lifecycle of its product range. Participants must send in their paintings, either A3 or A4 in size, and in any media, including crayon, oil, watercolour, colour pencil etc…, by May 20. Be sure to include name, date of birth, e-mail address, mobile number and school details on the back of the painting and send to The Malta Baby & Kids Directory, Saving Malta’s Unique Environment Front Cover Painting Competition, The Definitive[ly] Good Guide Co., 34, Bishop’s Palace Street, Vittoriosa, BRG 1153. Many prizes are up for grabs. For more information, send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org; or call on 2180 2383. www.maltababyandkids.com
Photography Kurt Paris
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predictions Fashion blogger and stylist CAROLINE PARIS spent the last couple of weeks gallivanting around the streets of Milan and London for their respective Autumn/Winter 2016 Fashion Weeks and was hit by so much trend information in such a short span of time that it almost felt like a blur. But she quickly gets her act back together – also with the help of fashion photographer Kurt Paris’s shots – to report on it all for Pink.
p until a few years ago, I used to wonder how trends materialise and how different designers seem to pick up on the same ones and present them in their collections. Nowadays, I know the truth is there’s no black magic. Trend prediction is a science in itself and a subject into which a lot of thought and expertise is poured. Trend predictions are actually made and reported on years in advance. This is why they’re picked up seemingly uniformly across the board. Now, while we may not really care about the predictions for years ahead, Winter 2016 is only about seven to eight months away, so take a leaf out of the upcoming trends, not least to see what to keep and what to chuck from this winter’s wardrobe.
THE CATWALKS Based on the Fashion Weeks, as far as trends go, the 1970s will continue to be an important look next winter, albeit more reﬁned and elegant, with less folk emphasis. Heavy western inﬂuences were present at Fay, Just Cavalli and Tods. Digital, sharp, contrasting prints were found at Prada and Manuel Facchini and plaid was the pattern of choice at Paul Costelloe, Dolce&Gabbana and Gucci. Total winter white was popular this year and will still be, but designers such as Anteprima opted to inject a touch of colour into their outﬁts.
“TREND PREDICTION IS A SCIENCE IN ITSELF AND A SUBJECT INTO WHICH A LOT OF THOUGHT AND EXPERTISE IS POURED” Minimalistic dressing is being given less and less importance – glamour and colour have really found their way back into fashion prominence. Voluminous shapes and androgynous pieces are still popular, but many times, a touch of femininity is added, such as embroidered ﬂorals at Francesco Scognamiglio, or paired with delicate lace options at Les Copains. Boudoir references are also quite strong – pyjamas, velvet robes and lingerie worn as outerwear and daywear were popular at Alberta Ferretti, Prada, La Perla and Luisa Beccaria. Pink March 2016 ∫ 45
“MANY PR COMPANIES SCOUT BLOGGERS AND ‘FASHION STARS’ WITH LARGE INSTAGRAM FOLLOWINGS AND OFFER TO DRESS THEM. IN SOME CASES, THEY WOULD ALSO PAY THEM TO WEAR THEIR CLOTHES”
THE FEET Every season, the subject of footwear is intriguing. In Milan, especially, shoes are such a high fashion point for the city, it is almost impossible not to focus on them. This season, however, androgynous styles and sportsreferenced footwear are not only ruling on the streets, but also in shows and presentations. When a brand like Casadei, renowned for heels, uses an entire room to showcase its new gender-neutral collection, you know this trend has signiﬁcance. Another hot look for next winter is fur shoes – from boots to mules, slip-ons and heels, fur-covered feet are just so in. On the streets of London, heels were almost nonexistent; while in Milan, there’ll always be some sort of heel presence although ﬂat footwear again makes its presence felt. Last year, the emphasis was on the popularity of sneakers. But what was really interesting this time round was that most attendees wore one of two styles by the same brand: Adidas Stan Smiths; or Adidas Originals. And it has to be noted that it is rather brilliant to be able to end a Fashion Week day without foot pain. On the catwalk, some designers chose to use ﬂat footwear too, but when they didn’t, block heels were the de facto choice. So basically, next winter, if it’s a heel, it must be fat, 1970s-inspired and chunky in different shapes and colours. THE BAGS People watching is a good way to kill time at delayed fashion shows, especially in Milan. At least here, one can 46 ∫ Pink March 2016
enjoy examining older, Italian women, who seem to possess an innate sense of elegance. Although most wear beautiful, structured, leather handbags, these are often not big brand names. Of course, they are still of super high quality and still cost an arm and a leg, but while in cities such as Paris, wearing Chanel is the norm, in Milan, smaller but still luxurious labels are given a lot of importance. Paula Cademartori is one such brand that has truly been embraced by the Italians. THE STREETS Onto the street-style stars – and that is really when you get to see the most original looks, albeit it possibly contrived as some of these people are there simply to be photographed and there’s some tough competition around. In fact, these looks are generally planned weeks in advance and deliberated on for ages. At times, photographers might even be paid in advance to shoot certain ‘stars’ wearing certain labels. Appearing in certain prominent magazines is of fundamental importance to both the label and the person in question. Many PR companies scout bloggers and ‘fashion stars’ with large Instagram followings and offer to dress them. In some cases, they would also pay them to wear their clothes. This is one of the reasons why it is so common to see certain people wearing looks that are about to appear, or have just appeared, on the catwalk. The really important people also have drivers to chauffeur them around and different outﬁts to change into between one show and another. Of course, it’s not just the women who strut their stuff. Super stylish men can easily be found at the different Fashion Weeks. Actually, sometimes it’s the men who are better at ‘original’ dressing than women – they seem to be better at striking that perfect balance between what is unique and what is ‘trying too hard’.
ART in everything
When did you first realise your calling was fashion design and how would you describe your style? Probably at a very young age. I recall my mother sewing some pretty dresses for my sister and I. We would go to places filled with a variety of textiles and I couldn’t resist feeling the fabrics. Strangely enough, I would recognise the fabrics by their smell. Each fabric felt different and appealed to me in different ways. Fashion was limited during my teenage years, so I started making my own clothes to go out in. When designing, I tend to refer to past fashion styles from various eras, which clearly shows in this collection. My style is a mix of wearable classic silhouettes, often with a retro twist and modern trends. My designs are usually simple, and yet, I like to add a touch of handwork detail. Most of the time, it involves manipulating the fabric, using a technique I found in an old book. What was the inspiration behind this collection? Eva was mainly inspired by 48 ∫ Pink March 2016
Who are you designing for? She is in love with life, and romantic, I would say. She’s successful, yet not obsessed by her goals. She buys mostly from boutique shops. Who would you most like to dress if you had the opportunity? Right now, Yolandi Visser and Iris Apfel. They are both larger than life characters and I love that about them.
How do you combine this with your day job? I work around my day job. My weekends are mainly spent at home sewing. Luckily, I have a supportive boyfriend and a spoilt cat, who loves my company. ish a
the beautiful vintage fabrics from the archives of CamilleriParisMode. One of my quirks is that I ‘converse’ with the fabrics, and this time round, they led me to the 1960s/1970s.
y day, Elisha is an assistant consultant for the fashion fabrics section at CamilleriParisMode, but beyond that she is a fashion designer in her own right, having studied Fashion Design and Technology at the Manchester Metropolitan University, graduating back in 2010. One of her milestones to date is having contributed, during her last year, to the creation of a pattern-cutting book for menswear, which is being sold worldwide. But she is equally proud of her fourth capsule collection that simply goes by the name Eva.
Fashion designer Elisha Camilleri has a thing for fabrics. She can recognise them from their scent, and they actually speak to her. But she tells Pink she won’t be having a conversation with a stretchy leopard print fabric any time soon.
How else does art and design inhabit your world? I tend to see art everywhere. Be it at home, or at work, I always have an artist’s lens screening my view of the world around me. However, art and design are also alive in the people around me. From time to time, my father designs
“BE IT AT HOME, OR AT WORK, I ALWAYS HAVE AN ARTIST’S LENS SCREENING MY VIEW OF THE WORLD AROUND ME” What are the pitfalls of fashion design in Malta? How far do you think you can go? Fashion designers in Malta are getting more opportunities than ever before to exhibit their work. However, exhibiting designs does not put food on the table and I think a business-minded approach is sometimes necessary. For example, I think there is a market for designing clothing for special occasions due to the demand for gowns that are tailormade rather than bought off the shelf. Financial backing very much dictates how far one can develop in this business. Given the right resources, Elisha’s fashion wear would be selling in exclusive boutique shops.
these bright geometric paintings that I find so unpredictable; I am sometimes tempted to have them printed on fabrics. At home, my boyfriend creates his own artworks, which vary from cover art for musicians’ records through to getting involved in creating landscapes/characters for computer games. What do you think about the dress sense of the Maltese? I don’t think it is correct to put a label on the Maltese style. There are people around me who really strike me with what they wear and I tend to be drawn to people who express themselves through their dress sense.
FASHIONSTORY What’s a complete fashion faux-pas? Clothes that heavily expose the body in a tasteless manner, or are perhaps too tight. Something you consider to be your personal trademark? My trademark till now has been the bishop sleeve. This is a billowy sleeve that hangs gracefully over the arm from a flat cap. It is gathered and attached to the cuff. What’s the most – and the least – you’ve ever spent on an item of clothing? It depends on whether you mean time or money. The least money I spent on a piece of clothing was probably when I used a vintage fabric that I found in my mum’s cabinet to make a fashion-inspired preRaphaelite type of dress. The most costly item was for a project I worked on during my university course, which involved me dipping in and out of London to purchase fabrics and getting the silk printed. As for time, the longest I’ve spent on a project was when I made a piece of clothing using the smocking technique. It was tedious work to manipulate the fabric, but I was quite pleased with the results and you will see this in Eva. The quickest project I ever worked on was when I had one hour to put together something to wear for a wedding. I found a piece of stretch fabric and turned that into a Greek-styled dress. Given the time that went into making it, I’d say it was pretty well received.
Photography Elisa von Brockdorff Make-up Talitha Dimech Models Evelina Tan @ Noticed Models
What colour do you detest and a fabric you just can’t get yourself to use? The colour I used to detest the most was pink. However, I found myself using it in this collection. Somehow, it has won me over this time. A fabric I can’t get myself to use is a stretchy leopard print. If you could spend some time working in some international designer’s atelier, who would it be? Right now, it would be Acne. I just love the Swedes’ simplicity and yet playful approach towards fashion design. Where do you see yourself in 10 years’ time? Well, I love what I do and I hope I will be able to continue that. I hope to have a big enough space to work in; have all my tools and books. In 10 years from now, I hope to use pattern cutting more, as a drive towards my designs. Are we to expect a collection every season and will you be showcasing this anywhere? At the moment, a collection every year is more like it. There are no plans to showcase this particular collection anywhere else as yet, but I’m open to invitations. Pink March 2016 ∫ 49
READINGROOM during the day, either at the hostel where I was staying, or at a cafe in Valletta. The island life was very good for me in that way – I really did have to relax. But as beautiful as I found Malta, I was also a little homesick, and I think being away from the wide prairies helped me think about them in a way that was helpful, as my ﬁrst novel was set in Kansas. I was pining for Kansas, oddly enough, though I found the landscape of Malta stunning, and I went swimming in the gorgeous Mediterranean every morning. I might be the ﬁrst person ever to miss Kansas in Malta!
“AFTER I HAD TO DROP OUT OF THE UNIVERSITY OF MALTA, I GOT AN EVENING JOB AT A BAR IN SLIEMA AND I STARTED TO WRITE DURING THE DAY, EITHER AT THE HOSTEL WHERE I WAS STAYING, OR AT A CAFE IN VALLETTA”
THE FLAPPER GIRL FLIES HELEN RAINE meets author Laura Moriarty at a writers’ conference and discovers that Malta was the critical launch pad for this best-selling novelist to get her writing career started. She tells her women authors still get pigeonholed, gives thoughtful answers about sexism in literature and explains what it feels like when Hollywood comes calling.
oriarty’s The Chaperone, a runaway success, is a ﬁction, set in the 1920s, about ﬂapper girl Louise Brooks. Julian Fellowes, creator of Downton Abbey, has adapted it into a screenplay, starring Elisabeth McGovern. Judging from these credentials, the movie is destined to be as huge as the book.
You started your ﬁrst novel while you were studying in Malta. What was it about living on the island that inspired you to start writing? Around halfway through my year in Malta, I lost my funding and had to drop out of my pre-med course. It wasn’t such a tragedy because I’d been slowly coming to the realisation that I didn’t want to go to medical school after all. I’d always denied myself the time to develop my creative writing because I thought it was impractical… Writing just seemed too much of a long shot for ﬁnancial stability. But after I had to drop out of the University of Malta, I got an evening job at a bar in Sliema and I started to write
How did you build the contrasting characters in The Chaperone? Louise came ready-made as a character. I read biographies and her autobiography and then tried to imagine this person actually moving through the world. Cora, the chaperone, is also based on a real person; Louise really was accompanied by a 36-year-old Wichita housewife during a summer in New York City in 1922. But I really didn’t know anything about the chaperone – there’s less than a paragraph written about her – and anyway, I liked the idea of inventing a character to move through the story alongside the real Louise. So with Louise, I stuck to her real character traits: she was brash, intelligent, sensitive, sophisticated, self-destructive, argumentative, musically and artistically gifted, and given to condescension. I decided to make Cora her foil. Where did you ﬁrst discover the story of Louise Brooks and what drew you to her? I came across a book called Flapper by Joshua Zeist, which discusses prominent ﬂappers like Clara Bow and Zelda Fitzgerald. He started his discussion of Louise by stating that while lots of ﬂappers pretended to be rebellious and devilmay-care, Louise Brooks was the real deal. She was dark in heart and sharp in wit, and of course, incredibly beautiful. And then I read on to discover Louise was from Kansas, and that she grew up not far from where I lived. Louise was only 15 years old when she went to New York for the summer, but the chaperone [her real name was Alice] was 36. She must have come of age in a time of corsets and I thought the rapidly changing values represented by girls like Louise might be interesting from an older woman’s [likely bewildered] perspective. And as fascinating as I found Louise, my initial sympathy went out to the chaperone – I’m always a little drawn to the character in the shadow. What was your reaction when you found out that the book was going to be made into a movie? I was delighted. I adore Elizabeth McGovern as an actress, and I was already thrilled to hear her read the audio version of The Chaperone – she does a fantastic job with the narration. I was even more excited when I learned she was interested in playing the lead in a movie version; the idea Pink March 2016 ∫ 53
READINGROOM that she’d read my work and saw Cora as someone she wanted to play was so gratifying. And then I heard that Julian Fellowes would be writing the screenplay, and I almost fell over. I love Downton Abbey as much as the next 10 million people, and to think that these two enormously talented people are interested in building on my work is flattering, to say the least. Have you experienced sexism in the literary world? I think the condescension toward fiction by [or more significantly, about] women is a reflection of our society’s condescension towards women. My books are often categorised as ‘domestic fiction’ or ‘women’s fiction’ – but men don’t have those categories. If a man wrote the kind of books I’ve written, they would just be called ‘fiction.’ I think some of this has to do with many [not all] men’s refusal to truly consider the world from a woman’s perspective. I teach literature and creative writing at the University of Kansas, and when I assign books by [or especially about] women, I know I’m going to get some pushback by a good portion of my male students. They’ll say: “This is boring”; or “I just can’t relate”. I rarely encounter the same kind of resistance from my female students when we read books by and about men. I don’t think this is because men are inherently more interesting than women. I think it’s because females are more likely to have an innate or learned ability to be interested in experiences that aren’t necessarily their own. Some men have this ability too, of course, but I definitely see a pattern, and you can see the effect of this pattern in the kind of movies Hollywood makes. My agent once told me it’s much harder to get a movie made if it has a female protagonist, and that’s because Hollywood knows that most men resist going to see a movie about a woman, but women will see movies about men. As a result, Alison Bechdel was able to come up with the disturbing Bechdel test*, which shows how little presence women have in most films. Relatively speaking, the book industry is much friendlier to women than the film industry, but we still have a long way to go. When I published my first novel, I was discussing my potential readers with my publisher, and she said: “Men aren’t going to read your book. Not in numbers that matter. Just forget it.” I thought: “But it’s got universal themes! And there are interesting male characters! It’s just that the two major characters are female! I’m a woman, and I can’t tell you how many books I’ve loved and read about men!” But the publisher turned out to be correct… I’d say my readership is about 98 per cent female. I don’t think this is solely because I’m a woman – I think it’s also because my protagonists are women. And it seems literary critics share the resistance to female protagonists. Last June, The Guardian published an article on Nicola Griffith’s findings that, for the last 15 years, the Pulitzer Prize went to novels with male protagonists. The findings were similarly disturbing for all the major literary prizes – basically, if you’re a woman writer and you want to be taken seriously and win a prize, you should write about men. [Male authors are able to win big prizes with protagonists of either gender.] ∫ Pink March 2016
Griffith writes: “It’s hard to escape the conclusion that, when it comes to literary prizes, the more prestigious, influential and financially remunerative the award, the less likely the winner is to write about grown women. Either this means that women writers are self-censoring, or those who judge literary worthiness find women frightening, distasteful, or boring.” But here’s the good part: Other grown women find books about women [and about men] interesting, and other grown women read and buy a lot of books. So commercially, I’m not marginalised at all.
“I love Downton Abbey As much As the next 10 mIllIon people, AnD to thInk thAt these two enormously tAlenteD people Are InteresteD In buIlDIng on my work Is flAtterIng, to sAy the leAst” Sometimes I still get annoyed though. At a writer’s conference, I told a male writer that I was impressed by his reading. He gave me a copy of his novel and said he would be thrilled if I read it. In turn, I gave him a copy of The Chaperone, and he said: “Thanks! My wife will love this!” Up until that moment, I really thought we’d been talking as two writers, but he clearly believed that I should be his audience, and that he should not be mine. At this same conference, I met a male highschool teacher who had only taught male writers because he couldn’t “find a female writer who wrote books of the same quality”. He wouldn’t listen when I told him he was doing the girls in his class harm. Really, I mostly feel sorry for men who see the world like this. I can’t imagine not reading the other gender, and not reading about the other gender. I hate to think of all the stories and poetry I would have missed out on; the humanity. I read books by and about men for the same reason I read books by and about people of other ethnicities, cultures and countries – I’m interested in the human experience, not just my little corner of it. But for some reason, the big literary prizes, as well as the Oscars for films and that idiotic high-school teacher, seem to equate the universal experience with the male experience. And that’s really too bad. They’re missing out, and they’re teaching others to miss out as well. Any plans to come back to Malta? I would love to come back to Malta! It seems like the moon now; so far away and so different. That year was before parenting, before my job – it was the year I had the freedom to take the risk of trying to write. I’d love to come back and see what’s changed and what hasn’t. I was there in 1993, and there was so much construction going on – I’m reminded of Malta whenever I hear an electric drill, as much as a lapping sea. And a while ago, I thought: ‘I guess all those buildings are built now.’ I’d love to see how they turned out. *The Bechdel test looks at whether a movie has i) at least two women in it ii) who talk to each other about iii) something besides a man. Only an estimated 58 per cent of movies pass all three criteria according to www.bechdeltest.com and other sources put the ﬁgures even lower.
Ta’ Xbiex Sea Front, Msida. Tel: 2133 1026 Opening hours: Monday to Friday 09:30 to 19:00; Saturday 10:00 to 19:00 (Open also during lunch break)
THE PACEVILLE PROJECT T
Although the findings of the first gender study to investigate the effect of combined alcohol, nicotine and cannabis use in teens are expected by summer, Prof. Giuseppe Di Giovanni, from the Faculty of Medicine and Surgery at the University of Malta, says there are already indications that females are acutely more sensitive to the deleterious impact of clubbing nightlife and substance abuse. The results may serve as an educational tool to raise young people’s awareness of the risk of Paceville’s nightlife.
he Paceville research project, the Long-term Effects of Chronic Tobacco Use and Bingeing on Alcohol and Marijuana in Adolescence – a Gender Study, is the first to address the long-lasting and negative impact of the abuse of these three substances together during the teenage years [the real scenario out there] on mood, learning and memory in adults, with a focus on gender differences. Binge drinking is a well-known and common trend among adolescents in developed countries, including Malta. However, a good number of young people tend to abuse not only alcohol [reaching the state of acute intoxication], but also marijuana, at the weekend. And it is also probable that they even smoke cigarettes daily. Local studies show that although alcohol and soft drug consumption is lower when compared to Northern European countries, occasional binge drinking with the consumption of soft drugs is on the increase in Malta. While there is some evidence that the single heavy abuse of alcohol, or cannabis, even if limited to the adolescent period, can cause irreversible
deficits in higher brain function that persist in adults, surprisingly, no studies have yet considered the deleterious effect of the combined abuse of alcohol, marijuana and tobacco. And it is likely that this combination is the most dangerous in terms of long-term brain damage, especially in women. Indeed, although literature indicates that women tend to be more vulnerable to the negative effects of alcohol use than men, gender differences are not clear regarding the risk of alcohol, nicotine and marijuana use across developmental periods, as well as the effects of adolescent alcohol, nicotine and marijuana abuse on adult life. Although males are at a higher risk of being early-onset alcohol users, females have been found to be at a higher risk of using marijuana at younger ages. It has also been found that the association between quantity/frequency of alcohol and marijuana use with drinking problems is stronger among females than males, while recent data show that females tend to be involved in higher levels of marijuana use than males in early adolescence. Pink March 2016 ∫ 59
INTHEPINK This implies that female drinkers, who also use marijuana, may be at particularly high risk for developing drinking problems, meaning more effort may need to be put into early intervention for marijuana use among girls. In fact, understanding these gender differences should help better design prevention and intervention programmes, tailored to the specific timing and needs of each gender group. The study expects to clarify the possibility of a gender predisposition [females vs males] in adolescence to addiction and the risks associated with multidrug exposure during this time, particularly the differences between genders. It aims to identify some of the long-term harmful effects this lifestyle poses on the developing brain to protect young people from injury by analysing the effects of adolescent alcohol, tobacco and cannabis abuse on mood [depression and anxiety, predisposition to drug addiction] and cognitive [memory impairment] disorders in adults, and the hypothesis that females have a higher risk of developing psychiatric and cognitive problems in adult life when compared to males. The results may confirm that the adolescent brain is highly sensitive to the administration of alcohol and/or marijuana and that the effects of these drugs are manifested in adulthood. They may serve as an educational tool to raise young people’s awareness of the risk of Paceville’s nightlife. The study should also arm legislators and educators with enough data to be able to educate and communicate with adolescents, especially from a young age. With this information in hand, responsible people can raise awareness against the use of irresponsible amounts of alcohol with the addition of nicotine and cannabis. They could reach youth and educate them on leading a healthier life. 60 ∫ Pink March 2016
Females vs males Prof. Giuseppe Di Giovanni believes that, given the social normalisation of alcohol and drugs among females, the increased attention they receive from advertising and the different drinking patterns they exhibit, an exclusively designed prevention programme for girls is necessary. Ultimately, research on the neurobiological mechanisms of sex differences in drug abuse will facilitate improved treatment and a better understanding of drugs in both females and males. This is the first study looking into the deleterious effect of the combined abuse of alcohol, marijuana and tobacco in adolescents – a trend that is considered to be dangerous in terms of long-term brain damage, especially in women. Why is this only being tackled now? While several
decades of research have shown that drugs of abuse are associated with adverse consequences in the adult brain, this relationship has only recently been explored in adolescents. Why? Because of obvious legal and ethical constraints on addiction research in teenagers and the attitude of adult society in neglecting young adults.
and risk analysis. The impulsive, peer-influenced nature of adolescent choices leads to another important health risk – experimenting with drugs. Contributing to the explosive nature of this situation, the teenage brain is particularly vulnerable to their damaging effects. What is the hypothesis that females have a higher risk of developing psychiatric and cognitive problems in adult life when compared to males – due to adolescent alcohol, tobacco and cannabis abuse – based on? Are you expecting the possibility of a gender difference [females vs males] in terms of addiction in adolescence and on what basis? As a male, I can confirm that we
are from Mars and women are from Venus. As
“THE GOVERNMENT, NON-PROFIT AND COMMUNITY ORGANISATIONS HAVE BEEN SOMEWHAT LACKING IN SENSITIVITY TOWARDS THE NEEDS OF THIS DISTINCT PUBLIC. WE NEED TO MAKE THE SAME INVESTMENTS IN THIS AGE GROUP AS WE DO IN EARLY CHILDHOOD TO MAKE SURE THEY THRIVE” The government, non-profit and community organisations have been somewhat lacking in sensitivity towards the needs of this distinct public. We need to make the same investments in this age group as we do in early childhood to make sure they thrive. Research has already started to change this trend, focusing more on adolescent brain development, which continues throughout the teenage years, with the pleasure centres of a teenager’s brain developing faster than those parts responsible for decision-making
a neuroscientist, I can assert that the brain of a female looks and functions differently from a male’s brain, and disparities start early in life. For example, as a whole, girls outperform boys in the use of language and fine motor skills until puberty; boys, instead, generally demonstrate superiority over female peers in areas of the brain involved in maths and geometry. Moreover, there are also sex differences regarding drug abuse. New research is suggesting that female teens are more vulnerable to the negative
effects of alcohol use than boys. Data indicate that there is an underlying sex difference due to the sexually dimorphic development of the brain. In particular, oestradiol enhances the motivation to take drugs, while progesterone can counteract the effect of oestradiol. Ultimately, research on the neurobiological mechanisms of sex differences in drug abuse will facilitate improved treatment and better understanding of drugs of abuse in both females and males. Do we really still need more studies to “clarify” what seem to be the obvious risks associated with multi-drug exposure during adolescence? What do we know so far? Despite the latest discover-
ies, our understanding of the brain is very limited, so more research is definitely needed. We need young adults to be 62 ∫ Pink March 2016
“THE LONG-TERM DELETERIOUS EFFECTS OF BINGEING ON DRUGS ARE NOT WELL ESTABLISHED AND, FOR THIS REASON, WE ARE CARRYING OUT THIS STUDY” healthy, productive and skilled to ensure a strong national workforce, global competitiveness, public safety, and successful parenting of the next generation. Scientific research can assist us in this challenge. In concrete terms, what are the potential long-term brain injuries in adults from alcohol- and drug-related abuse in adolescence? Bingeing on cannabis,
alcohol and nicotine in adolescence may induce subtle changes in the adult brain circuits, resulting in altered emotional and cognitive performance and enhanced vulnerability for the use of more harmful drugs. It may represent a risk factor for
developing schizophrenia, depression and anxiety disorders in adulthood. The long-term deleterious effects of bingeing on drugs are not well established and, for this reason, we are carrying out this study. Moreover, you will be surprised to hear that new research suggests that if a parent uses drugs, they could pass on to their children that DNA ‘damage’ in the form of inherited epigenetic changes. What’s more, these epigenetic changes can predispose the offspring not only to becoming addicts, but to having to grapple with behavioural traits that make it so hard to resist the pull of using, like impulsivity and heightened sensitivity to drugs.
INTHEPINK Through our project, we could provide a scientific background to that biblical notion of “the sins of the fathers [mothers] being visited upon the children”. Knowing already that the association between quantity/frequency of alcohol and marijuana use with drinking problems is stronger among females than males and that females tend to be involved in higher levels of marijuana use than males in early adolescence, isn’t this enough to take action and put more effort into early intervention for marijuana use among girls? In 2014,
Prof. Kenneth Zucker and colleagues at the University of Michigan in the US performed a prospective study of families at high risk for substance use disorders, spanning more than 20 years. This study clearly highlights the alarming reality that female teens are more at risk of drug abuse and more vulnerable to the negative impacts of alcohol and marijuana.
unique and teen-friendly way to impart skills to youths. Internet-based interventions lend themselves to tailoring for population segments and, above all, are easily disseminated. Moreover, appropriate treatment should consider not just gender, but also the adolescent’s level of psychological development; relations with family and peers; how well they are doing in school, and the larger community; cultural and ethnic factors; and particular physical or behavioural issues. The matter is complicated, but the best treatment programmes provide a combination of therapies and other services to meet the needs of the individual patient. At what stage is the study, what are the time frames and are there any preliminary findings? Our research proj-
ect is going to be concluded by summer 2016. All data collected will be analysed, quantified and statistically evaluated.
“PSYCHOLOGICALLY STRONGER CHILDREN, ESPECIALLY GIRLS, UNDERSTAND THAT THEY HAVE THE RIGHT TO SAY NO TO PEER PRESSURE TO USE DRUGS, OR TO GET INVOLVED IN OTHER RISKY BEHAVIOURS, ENSURING THEIR RIGHT TO BE SAFE” For this reason, as well as the social normalisation of alcohol and drugs among females, the increased attention girls receive from advertising and the differential drinking patterns exhibited by girls and boys, an exclusively designed prevention programme for girls is necessary. If there are, indeed, gender differences regarding the risk of alcohol, nicotine and marijuana use across developmental periods, what sort of prevention and intervention programmes could be designed to tackle the specific timing and needs of each gender group? How would one target males and females differently? As a scientist, I am interested
in discovering the brain mechanisms and changes in their synapses and neurotransmitters that result in girls being at a higher risk compared to boys. Having said that, however, I can add that gender-specific substance abuse prevention programmes are in their infancy. The widespread use of the internet as a communication device could represent a 64 ∫ Pink March 2016
Although we do not yet have the final results, we can tentatively indicate that females are acutely more sensitive to the deleterious effect of clubbing nightlife and substance abuse. This study is also called the Paceville Project. How do you think the findings could impinge on the general perception of Malta’s nightlife scene and the attitude of parents, in particular of daughters, towards it? I do not want to
demonise Paceville and its lifestyle; anything in moderation does no harm. Having fun and socialising is important for adolescent development. But our children do need more support, a predictable and stable environment at home, at school, and in their communities. Psychologically stronger children, especially girls, understand that they have the right to say no to peer pressure to use drugs, or to get involved in other risky behaviours, ensuring their right to be safe. Their safety is in our hands as much as it is in theirs.
Joint consumption The WHO stresses that alcohol abuse should be treated very seriously, especially with the joint consumption of other drugs like tobacco and cannabis. It also points out that repetitive consumption of alcohol with the addition of other drugs is the cause of not only immediate tragedies, such as car accidents and violence, but also affects behaviour, the availability of employees to the labour market and causes social problems. The WHO is pushing for more awareness and research in this area so that harm is reduced across the EU.
PREOCCUPYING PERCENTAGES • Over 25% of young people have at least used cannabis once in their lifetime. • 60% of smokers start when they are younger than 13. • 90% of smokers start before the age of 20.
Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons in aid of brain research The Brain Awareness campaign peaks with the concert of Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons, featuring acclaimed violinist Carmine Lauri as soloist, and a 14-piece string ensemble under the direction of Mro Michael Laus. The concert is being held on March 27 at 7.30pm at St Publius Church in Floriana. All proceeds go towards research in mental health, depression and epilepsy. Organised by the University of Malta’s Research Trust RIDT, the concert is supported by APS Bank and ADRC Trust.
Prof. Giuseppe Di Giovanni is also editor in chief of Xjenza Online, the journal of the Malta Chamber of Scientists, as well as the coordinator of the Malta Neuroscience Network, the organisers of the first Brain Awareness Week, a global campaign to raise more awareness about brain research.
HEALTH & BEAUTY
THE SCENT OF A KISS
NEXT GENERATION IN SKIN PERFECTION
Ultimate nude make-up can be as powerful and glamorous as smoky eyes and red lipstick when done properly, but many make-up artists recognise that this is the most challenging look to create. Women desire the security of coverage, but also naturally healthy-looking skin. Max Factor Miracle Match Foundation is the revolutionary new product that blurs imperfections and nourishes skin with hydration. Feeling like a moisturiser on application, Miracle Match Foundation is the first from Max Factor to contain a new silicone ingredient that behaves more like a moisturiser. It gives a translucent finish for an end look that leaves a beautifully blurred effect and nourishes with hydration at the same time. Added to the formula are lightreflecting particles to reduce and soften the appearance of skin imperfections. The result? A beautiful healthy-looking nude, with a blurred finish for skin perfection. New Max Factor Miracle Match Foundation is available in six shades. For local trade enquiries, call VJ Salomone Marketing on 8007 2387; or visit the Max Factor Malta Facebook page.
Springtime Lipstick Diego Dalla Palma has an ultra-sensory, creamy and melting texture. The formula allows full and even smoothness on application for optimal wear and without smudging. Vitamin E and UVA filters add an immediate anti-ageing action. Diego Dalla Palma is exclusively distributed by Chemimart [2149 2212].
SMOOTH AND SILKY
Have you ever wondered how to go from dry and frizzy hair to smooth and silky in just one wash? Head & Shoulders Smooth and Silky Dandruff Shampoo is formulated with added moisturisers to cleanse and restore dry, fizzy hair and leave it 100 per cent flake free. The shampoo cleans hair and keeps it beautifully hydrated, soft, fresh and easy to manage. With appealing freshness that lasts, thanks to water-activated Scent Burst Technology, the shampoo has a gentle formula that is suitable for everyday use. For local trade enquiries, call VJ Salomone [Marketing] on 8007 2387. 66 ∫ Pink March 2016
I’m Eau de Parfum stems from a creative journey inspired by the desire to recreate, from an olfactory point of view, the scent of a kiss. The fragrance was born in the laboratories of Atelier Fragranze Milano, a top company in the world of fine fragrances. I’m Eau de Parfum is an explosion of contrasts, representing energy, uniqueness and harmony. It is distributed in selected pharmacies and perfumeries. For more information, call Medimports on 2148 3139; send an e-mail to email@example.com; Facebook: Pupa Milano in Malta.
FREEDOM, CREATIVITY AND JOIE DE VIVRE
Freedom, creativity and joie de vivre – these are the ingredients in Missoni Eau de Parfum, the new women’s fragrance by the Italian brand based in the town of Sumirago. It’s a fragrance for a modern woman, decidedly feminine and confident. This is a woman aware of her own presence, who wears this scent as a dress that glides on the body. A new creation by Quentin Bisch, the delicacy of jasmine and the sensuality of mahonia are embraced by the notes of the enveloping woods and tonka beans to create a unique and refined fragrance. The joie de vivre of Italian citrus fruits complements the harmonious arrangement of this fragrance that represents the various shades of the female soul. International top model and actress Elisa Sednaoui is the face of the fragrance in a new advertising spot by Oscar-winning director Paolo Sorrentino. For Missoni Eau de Parfum, Angela Missoni took inspiration from the art of Venetian blown glass to create a unique bottle in shades of purple, fuchsia and green that all blend together, resulting in a precious object that has a soft design and is contemporary and timeless. Missoni is exclusively available at FRANKS. For more information, call 2388 2300.
A NIGHT OF QUALITY SLEEP
Every mum recognises that a night of quality, uninterrupted sleep is beneficial for babies as they wake up rested, cheerful and ready to start their day. Securing the best possible night’s sleep is important, but babies don’t just sleep through; they need a helping hand. Pampers Baby Dry has unique double dry zones; a new soft absorbing layer and a core that locks in wetness better than the next leading nappy for up to 12 hours of dryness, so your baby stays dry and comfortable throughout the night, every night. Every good morning needs up to 12 hours of dryness. For local trade enquiries, call VJ Salomone [Marketing] on 2298 3201. www.vjsm.com.mt
Ingredients in Skincare Products By Erika Babatunde from the Malta Medical Students’ Association
BLACK BEANS I’m packed with good stuff
There are many ingredients in skincare that are reported to have amazing skin-rejuvenating properties. Here is a breakdown of some of the best ingredients that you should look out for. Hyaluronic acid naturally occurs in the body and is important for lubricating joints, cell renewal and skin elasticity and moisture. When applied topically to the skin, it can help to increase its hydration and elasticity. It provides a moisture barrier, so skin becomes smoother, more moisturised and softer. Nevertheless, hyaluronic acid cannot penetrate the outer layer of skin because of its large structure, so it is unable to ﬁll wrinkles and ﬁne lines. Retinol is a form of vitamin A. It acts on the DNA to encourage the renewal of cells, causing an exfoliating effect as old skin cells are shed. It also boosts the production of collagen, which is important for the skin’s elasticity and ﬁrm appearance. Retinol has various uses, including the treatment of hyperpigmentation, ﬁne lines and dehydrated skin. It also has been used to treat acne. Care must be taken when using this active ingredient as it can cause skin sensitivity. Vitamin C is an antioxidant that slows the damage caused by free radicals [sun damage, ﬁne lines and wrinkles, skin dryness and loss of elasticity]. It is essential for the proper production of collagen and has a role in tissue repair. Topical vitamin C can be used to treat age spots and ﬁne lines; however, it deteriorates easily in the presence of light and oxygen. Ceramides are lipids [fats] found in skin, helping to keep its cells together. In damaged dry skin, fewer ceramide molecules are present. In skincare, ceramides can help rebuild the skin’s moisture barrier, keeping it moisturised and supple. They can also be used to treat eczema and psoriasis.
Black beans, as their name implies, have a dark, shiny, shell-like appearance. With a rich flavour that has been compared to mushrooms, they have a velvety texture while holding their shape well during cooking. A variety of the common bean [Phaseolus vulgaris], they belong to the popular legume family of plants and share many characteristics with their fellow bean family members, including red [kidney] beans, white [navy] beans, yellow beans, pinto beans, pink beans and anasazi beans.
My nutritional information No food group has a more health-supportive protein-plus-fibre mix than legumes. Their almost magical protein-fibre combination explains important aspects of their health benefits for the digestive tract, the blood sugar regulatory system and the cardiovascular system.
How to choose me Both dried and canned black beans are available throughout the year. Dried beans are generally available in prepackaged containers as well as in bulk bins. Either way, make sure there is no moisture or insect damage and that they are not cracked. Unlike canned vegetables, which have lost much of their nutritional value, there is little difference in the nutritional value of canned black beans and those you cook yourself. Store dried black beans in an airtight container in a cool, dry and dark place, where they will keep up to 12 months. If you purchase black beans at different times, store them separately since they may feature varying stages of dryness and will require different cooking times. Cooked black beans keep fresh in the fridge for about three days if placed in a covered container.
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places up for Malta in the Euro Health Consumer Index, issued by the Health Consumer Powerhouse. [Malta was given 663 points and is up from position 27 and 582 points in 2014.]
MONTHLY MUSE “Be careful about reading health books. You may die of a misprint.” Mark Twain, American author [1835-1910]
Do the right thing Integrity is not just about honesty, according to Dott. EDWARD CURMI. It is a state of mind whereby we feel a strong sense of completeness and meaningfulness, which makes life seem worthwhile.
ccording to Prof. Barbara Killinger, integrity is all about doing the right thing for the right reason. It is a personal choice, where we choose to commit to and honour our moral values and principles. We often associate integrity with honesty, but really, it is more than that. Developmental psychologist Erik Erikson, in his theory of adulthood, believed that integrity is only attainable in the later years of our lives. Erikson described it as the opposite of the feeling of despair; it is a state of mind whereby we feel a strong sense of completeness and meaningfulness and life seems worthwhile.
How can we strive for integrity? According to leadership counsellor Bob Taibbi, these are some of the characteristics of people who hold the virtue of integrity in their everyday life: Knowing who you are A person with integrity knows what they want and need to achieve. They choose to live
their life by focusing all their energy on their priorities. They are able to find meaning in their daily life by choosing the pathway that leads them to happiness. Rejecting temptation Temptation comes in many shapes and forms. A person with integrity is able to ground and support himself when such temptations come his way. Any form of pressure does not distract, especially because he has mastered his values and principles.
picture, without rushing to judge others for their actions. They refuse to gossip or back-stab others, and do things in a calm and composed way. Their philosophy is live and let live. Being OK with being unpopular Having a sense of integrity means not being worried about what others think and say about you; not being afraid of making unpopular decisions, which reflect your way of perceiving the world. Responsibility and honesty are the approaches used most when dealing with everyday situations. Not needing to be rigid Integrity is treasuring what ‘feels’ right without imposing personal values and principles on others. Trying to control or manipulate others is just not the style of a person who upholds the value of integrity. Also, as much as they treasure their moral values and principles, they are willing to consider the bigger picture. In fact, after much reflection, they could consider adapting and even changing their own values, especially if it feels right.
“IT IS UNFORTUNATE THAT, IN TODAY’S WORLD, WE ARE SEEING PROMINENT FIGURES – BRIGHT AND TALENTED PEOPLE WHO WE CHOOSE TO LOOK UP TO – LYING, STEALING, BEING UNFAITHFUL AND FALLING FROM GRACE” Being responsible A person with integrity is very much in control of his emotions. He is able to use his emotional intelligence without playing the victim, or being overly dramatic. Using compassion Persons who live by the virtue of integrity are compassionate and emphatic by nature. They choose to always see the bigger
Integrity is a personal choice and style one chooses to adopt in one’s life. It is unfortunate that, in today’s world, we are seeing prominent figures – bright and talented people who we choose to look up to – lying, stealing, being unfaithful and falling from grace. Dott. Edward Curmi is a registered clinical psychologist, psychotherapist and author of the book Common Sense: a Better Understanding of Emotional Well-being.
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Telling ‘stories’ ?
Educational and child psychologist Dr STEPHANIE SATARIANO uncovers what lies say about your child’s cognitive development. At times, it can actually be a good thing.
hile a lie is defined in the Cambridge dictionary as “to say or write something that is not true in order to deceive someone”, we have to understand how true this is when it comes to children. How does lying develop? When is it normal child development and when is it something to be worried about? Children begin to develop some form of conceptual and moral understanding of lying at around three years of age, but it will take more than a decade before a child begins to fully understand and appreciate the moral and ethical impact of their lies.
wrong, yet they still seem unable to control themselves. So why are they ‘lying’? • It may not be a lie, but rather a play with imagination. It is during this time that children’s imagination flourishes and their symbolic thinking emerges. For example, they can develop imaginary friends, who may take the blame for things they have done wrong. • Children are still learning to distinguish between fact and fiction, and have not yet fully grasped what a lie is and that is it bad. Have you taught them and explained to them what lying is?
“BEFORE THE AGE OF THREE, IT IS LIKELY THAT CHILDREN DO NOT UNDERSTAND THEY ARE ‘LYING’ AND THAT THEY ARE DOING SOMETHING WRONG” Before the age of three, it is likely that children do not understand they are ‘lying’ and that they are doing something wrong. Lying develops as a child develops cognitively and socially, and it is well evidenced that the ability to lie develops according to cognitive development. Therefore, it may not be a bad thing when your child lies!
Lying in the pre-school age Children at this age are starting to learn what a lie is and that lying is Pink March 2016 ∫ 73
PARENTINGTIPS • As a way of beginning to understand the world, for example, after experiencing their first death, or hearing that someone died, it is not uncommon for children to start telling ‘stories’ of people who died. • The most common reason for a ‘lie’ [that is a purposeful keeping of the truth] is fear of punishment, which is greater than guilt for anybody, especially children.
Lying in middle childhood • In this age group, the ability to tell white ‘prosocial lies’ develops. For example, confessing to something you didn’t do to protect a friend/sibling. This shows an emerging social awareness, empathy and sensitivity. • As they develop, children become more aware of the impact of their actions on others; however, they are still not very good at regulating and controlling their behaviour. Therefore, when they do something they are not proud of, they may lie to avoid disappointing and upsetting those they love.
Lying in teenage years Research has highlighted that this is the age in the whole of our life span when we tell the most lies, and we are the most able to lie. So if your teen is telling lies about doing chores, homework and so on, although very frustrating, it is part of typical development. Although there are age-specific trends, children and teenagers also lie due to some common themes: • It may be wishful thinking; some desire they want to come true. • If life is too painful, lying can actually help children cope with the real world. Their fantasy and imagination are a happier place, which they can control and which allows them to feel a sense of security. • To get out of something they don’t want to do, such as brushing their teeth. • For love, approval and acceptance and to avoid disappointing and upsetting people they care about when they have done something wrong. • To help and protect somebody else. • Due to developing inhibitory and behaviour regulation skills, they may
“DON’T PUNISH FOR LYING WHEN THEY HAVE ADMITTED THE LIE; ACCEPT IT MAY HAVE BEEN DIFFICULT FOR THEM TO DO SO AND THANK THEM FOR BEING HONEST AND BRAVE”
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lie accidentally and then get caught up in their own web of lies – by mistake.
When do you start becoming concerned? When does it become chronic lying? Children may compulsively lie when they feel anxious or scared of a real-life situation and are trying to escape and avoid a painful reality. It can be a sign that a child is under stress and is a red flag that they are struggling. Another reason may be that lying has become part of their sense of self and they believe they are ‘liars’ and ‘bad’, so they are living up to the self-fulfilling prophecy. Also, lying becomes easier the more you practise, so once the child is in that behaviour pattern, it may be difficult to break it. It is helpful to seek guidance in such situations. And it may also be useful to begin to notice if there is a recurrent theme in their storytelling – it may give an indication of a deep wish they have.
What to do when a child of any age lies: • Try to see things from their point of view and understand the reason and purpose behind their lies. • If you know it’s a lie, calmly let them know and discuss with them what is going on. • Children are keen observers; set a good example yourself [ for example, no lying about ages to get discounts] and create a narrative in the home that emphasises that lying can damage relationships and is immoral. However, bear in mind, nothing works overnight, and to create these beliefs takes time. • Acknowledge their ‘story’ or ‘wishful thinking’: “Oh really, you want to go on holiday to Disneyland. That would be fun! Now tell me, what did you actually do in the holidays.” • When you’re trying to unpick what happened in a situation, try doing this in a non-judgemental way. Try to focus on the ‘what’ of a situation rather than the ‘why’. • Avoid a direct inquisition; it is likely to make your child close up and become defensive. • Most importantly, don’t punish for lying when they have admitted the lie; accept it may have been difficult for them to do so and thank them for being honest and brave.
& omega So what’s the big deal about this Alpha Course? KRISTINA CHETCUTI is curious to find out more about a global religious phenomenon that has affected 27 million people around the world – and more than around 2,000 Maltese… not of the happy-clappy sort.
ear Grylls, the star of Discovery Channel’s Man vs Wild adventure show is a huge fan of the Alpha Course. So is Spice Girl Geri Halliwell, who was agnostic; then after the course, was spotted wearing a cruciﬁx on her necklace. Grylls and Halliwell are two of the 27 million people around the world who took this “introduction to the basics of the Christian faith” course, which runs in 169 countries, including Malta. Column inches have been written about it in The New Statesmen, The
Guardian, The Spectator, The Telegraph and all the major international broadsheets. It has even featured on CNN and BBC. So what is the big deal about this Alpha Course, I ask… It is not happy-clappy, I’m assured. No one speaks in tongues, there’s no counselling, no airing of dirty linen in public, no group therapy, but… it is a global religious phenomenon. How does it work? Participants gather in a church centre, eat a homemade dinner together, watch a video that discusses issues, and then break up into small groups for chats about the basic beliefs of the Christian faith. It is a formula that has worked for the last 40 years, and has attracted people from all walks of life: from singers to doctors to journalists and writers. Even the most sceptic are converted. Tim Lott, popular British author and The Guardian columnist, recently wrote a piece about how he’s communicating better with his wife and said: “It was, cough, part of the Alpha Course – you know, the one for, cough, Christians – but it was pretty smart, and inexpensive, and you could do worse than try it even if you do worship pagan idols.” The Alpha Course was born in 1977. Reverend Charles Marnham, a curate at Holy Trinity, Brompton, a Church of England parish in London, had this idea of a 10-week course, with participants meeting for one evening a week. It was a word-of-mouth success, spreading not just all over the parishes in the UK, but also across the different branches of Christianity: Anglican, Presbyterian, Lutheran, Baptist, Methodist, Pentecostal, British New Church Movement and Orthodox churches and ﬁnally the Roman Catholic Church – which is when it came to Malta. In 1997, the Alpha Course was organised as part of an outreach of the International Catholic Programme for Evangelisation. They then trained people to run the course in Maltese parishes. The Maltese version, of course, is run in a Catholic context, with due importance given to the teachings of the Catholic Church.
“IT SHOULD APPEAL TO PEOPLE WHO HAVE NEVER BEEN TO CHURCH, OR MAY HAVE ATTENDED CHURCH BUT FEEL THEY HAVE NEVER HAD A PERSONAL UNDERSTANDING OF THE CHRISTIAN FAITH” “Alpha is an opportunity for anyone to explore the Christian faith in a relaxed, informal and fun setting over 10 thought-provoking weekly sessions,” says Malta Alpha Course coordinator Manfred Galdes. The course is open to everyone, but particularly to people who are not religion-obsessed. Manfred says it should appeal to people who “have never been to church, or may have attended church but feel they have never had a personal understanding of the Christian faith”. Many people, he says, question the Pink March 2016 ∫ 77
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relevance of God in today’s world, and that is exactly what Alpha tries to answer. People are usually grouped by age and they get to know each other during the 10 weeks. But it doesn’t mean that they have to blurt out their life stories. “You are free to discuss as much, or as little, as you wish. In fact, you don’t have to come for the whole term – you can just come round for the first session and see what you think. No pressure, no follow-up and no charge,” says Manfred. To date, more than 2,000 Maltese have attended the course. Hundreds have formed friendship bonds that have lasted over the years. Others say it has changed their attitude to life. It certainly helps Bear Grylls survive the wild, and to quote him: “If you risk nothing, you gain nothing.”
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Architect Ben Formosa and his wife Debbie, who works in IT, attended the course in 2012. “Someone gave us a promotional flyer and we thought of giving it a try,” they say. Both now 32 years old, they feel the course strengthened their relationship. “It was the start of a journey.” Unfortunately, they maintain, Christian teaching stops at school level so courses like this helped them to develop further faith.
Carmen Galea, 58, a separated, single mother and manager of a Spa Resort, attended her first Alpha Course in 1999, when she was going through a difficult and painful marriage breakup. “I was never an active Christian and rarely attended Mass,” she says. She compares the course to a “stimulating conversation”. That’s what drew her – “it wasn’t Churchy; and more than that, over the years, I have met some wonderful people who are still friends today… It has changed my outlook on life. It made me realise that authentic inner transformation is somewhat of a lifelong and gentle process”.
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“IT WASN’T CHURCHY; AND MORE THAN THAT, OVER THE YEARS, I HAVE MET SOME WONDERFUL PEOPLE WHO ARE STILL FRIENDS TODAY… IT HAS CHANGED MY OUTLOOK ON LIFE. IT MADE ME REALISE THAT AUTHENTIC INNER TRANSFORMATION IS SOMEWHAT OF A LIFELONG AND GENTLE PROCESS”
Sandra Galdes, 39, is a full-time mother. “When an Alpha Course was held at our parish, some 16 years ago, my parents and sister went along. They really enjoyed it and I could tell they discovered something special. So I was curious and decided to attend the next course myself.” She attended the course with her husband, who was still her boyfriend at the time. “It made a massive difference. Our priorities in life slowly started to change and this helped to make our relationship much stronger.” Malcolm Crockford, specialist in Radiology, and his wife Shirley, a radiographer, had long been encouraged to attend the Alpha Course by their friends, however, each time, they felt it was not for them. A few years ago, they somehow ended up enrolling. “It has definitely made us think more deeply about things and helped us to translate our religion into everyday living. It had a calming effect and gave a change in outlook on our lives, which persists up till today,” they say. Courses like these are always meaningful and helpful, maybe more so today with the world in such turmoil, they continue. Nikki Von Brockdorff, 62, a travel consultant, lost her husband in 2006. Two friends of hers had been trying to get her to attend to make new friends. Religion was always a part of her life, however, the course was an eye-opener. “Now, when I am in church, I have a better understanding of why prayer is so important. The course gave me a better understanding of what it really means to be a Christian.” The next Alpha Course starts on April 7 at the MSSP Oratory in Birkirkara. It is free of charge. firstname.lastname@example.org
THE VIRGINIA MONOLOGUES
THE BOOK THIEF
couple of months ago, my son casually announced that he had lost one of ‘his’ schoolbooks, and I very nearly brought the house down. Please don’t misunderstand me and my seemingly overreaction. Had it been a Maths, Physics, or most any ordinary schoolbook, I would certainly have not raised hell, or even an eyebrow. Understand that this book was rather special to me. Quite apart from being a poetry book and therefore special even from a purely
“YOU DECIDE TO TRUST YOUR COVETED COPY TO YOUR SON AND YOU TELL HIM TO GUARD IT WITH HIS LIFE. BUT OF COURSE CHILDREN – AND PARTICULARLY BOYS – DON’T. A BOOK IS JUST A BOOK, EASILY REPLACEABLE AND NOT SOMETHING THEY ARE EVER GOING TO FORM AN EMOTIONAL ATTACHMENT WITH” objective point of view, it happened to be older than him and very probably older than me. It had been passed down from previous generations and had belonged to me and my sister before that. It was also full of interesting notes and scribble – literary explanations and references to sonnets, alliteration, metaphors, ellipsis, iambic pentameters and of course all those notes that students write when they are bored of studying and need a distraction, including girlie crushes and names of boys who are no longer boys and perhaps who are no longer. Truth be told, my son wasn’t that casual about it. I had long been asking where The Dragon Book of Verse had disappeared to and he had obviously been 80 ∫ Pink March 2016
keeping mum about it, undoubtedly hoping it would suddenly turn up on his desk, or that I’d miraculously forget. No such luck of course. When he could no longer sidestep the issue, which he knew I was not about to drop, he came clean and told me the truth I had long feared. The book had been mislaid – lost, or perhaps ‘stolen’, picked up at school by someone who probably liked the fact that it was a limited edition, which looked more akin to a teacher’s, not a student’s, book. Finders keepers and all of that. Whatever happened to lost property? My son had previously told me that a couple of his peers [even a couple of teachers] had admired the book, which, of course, he was rather chuffed about.
In hindsight, of course, I should have known better than to give it to him. When that dreaded school list appears every year and you actually recognise a book you have and one you can cross off, the very idea of buying one you already own appears insane. Overcome by a completely different sort of temporary insanity, you decide to trust your coveted copy to your son and you tell him to guard it with his life. But of course children – and particularly boys – don’t. A book is just a book, easily replaceable and not something they are ever going to form an emotional attachment with. I was devastated as you can imagine. I’d probably have taken it far better had he told me he’d raided the drinks cabinet, or dropped my mobile phone down the loo. And then, after I had sulked and moped, I had to do the thing that I ought to have down a few months earlier – buy the damn book all over again. I picked one up on Amazon and forgot all about it.
Now anyone who has ever bought anything from Amazon will know that there are usually an array of books – New, Used, Hardback, Softback – to choose from. I picked one of the Used books, which was in excellent condition, hoping by some miracle that it would be the same edition as the one I had lost. It was not to be. When the book eventually arrived, it was everything I expected it to be – modern, colourful and textbookish. I hated it on sight. But then, the strangest thing happened. I opened it, determined not to like it. And there, staring right back at me was a little note that someone else had written. The note read: March 2010 – Dear Alice, Enjoy English despite your teacher. We loved having you with us in Alpbach! Lots of love Sam, Theo, Ollie & Casper. All my reservations suddenly vanished. Here was someone else’s book and someone else’s scribble. Here was a book that had lived somewhere else before it joined our household; a book that had its own story to tell. And of course, what were the odds of me picking that particular book, which even had my son’s name in it. Two of them, actually! I’m a great believer in these little coincidences and I’m also a great believer in books being like people – unique and special in their own way. Of course, there’s another way of looking at it: if books are like people, presumably they have volition and a mind of their own. Perhaps the book got tired of me and needed out; it needed to take a walk on the wild side; it was a dragon book after all. Still, I couldn’t help wondering where that particular edition of The Dragon Book of Verse – with mine, my sister’s and my son’s name – ended up. I am still not quite sure that I like the idea that it is inhabiting someone else’s world, sitting on someone else’s shelf. It feels sinister, almost like a kidnapping. Of course I am not unique in feeling this way. There’s a whole internet site dedicated to all the reasons why you should never lend books [or money] to people, because you lose the book, the money and the friends with it. I suppose the moral of the story is that you should never loan or give away anything that you wouldn’t want lost, especially if you are likely to lose sleep over it. Lending books is always a risk. They come back with oil, coffee and tea stains and generally dog-eared. They say that one who lends a book is a fool. And the person who expects the book to be returned is an even bigger fool. Oh well, who knows? Perhaps one day, I’ll come across it at a book fair, or in some second-hand bookshop. Perhaps not… *** PS Yesterday, after about nine months, the book turned up. I had already written the piece and I could hardly believe it. I felt bad for ‘blaming’ someone else. The book was found by my son in the school library. He went there to get a copy of The Dragon Book of Verse [because he had left his new copy at home] and what do you know? My book was sitting on the shelf. To me, this remains one of the most fascinating stories I have ever written, because it turned up a few days after I wrote this piece – almost as if it had heard me.
The Suzuki Vitara is back – not that it ever went anywhere – with an image that is altogether cooler than its predecessors. When ANDREA FAYE CHRISTIANS picks up the turquoise version from Industrial Motors in Msida, she meets a self-assured vehicle that knows what it is and what it isn’t and is unashamedly in touch with its feminine side.
he 1980s was a decade characterised by flamboyance. Heavy make-up, big hair and even bigger shoulder pads defined the music scene, while no selfrespecting yuppie would be seen dead without their Filofax and power suit! In this era of excess, car lust allowed those who could afford it to indulge in Mercedeses, Maseratis and BMWs. For those who couldn’t, it was invariably the Ford Escort that took pride of place in their driveway. The SUV as we know it did not exist, but almost a quarter of a century ago, Suzuki had the foresight to introduce a compact four-wheel drive that was set to steal the hearts of many. At its launch in 1988, the Suzuki Vitara was rather twee by today’s standards, but nonetheless, soon proved to be a must-have accessory among the dedicated followers of fashion and the young, upwardly mobile professionals of the time, who viewed it as an ideal weekend car. Seizing the opportunity, advertising agencies promoted the Vitara with a
plethora of cheesy photographs of Baywatch-style models in tiny swimming costumes, while car accessory shops cashed in on the boom by offering ridiculously wide wheels, bullbars, elevated headlights and body kits. The yuppies may be middle-aged now, but 25 years on, it’s still not an unusual sight to see one such Suzuki Vitara driven on the roads of Malta amid mutterings of the word “naff ” by off-road purists. Now, however, the Suzuki Vitara is back – not that it ever went anywhere – with an image that is altogether cooler than its predecessors. When it comes to appearances, what we now have is a vehicle that is rather sculpted, giving the impression that it has undergone many hours at the gym and taken
looking but not monstrously large, the Vitara is one of the smaller crossovers around, making it ideal for Malta’s roads and a real pleasure to drive. Although it is said that beauty is only skin deep, the interior is good too, with a kit list as long as your arm and plenty of legroom in both the front and rear. It’s also child-friendly, with comfortable headroom for manoeuvring Junior in and out of a child seat, and has plenty of wipe-clean surfaces for sticky fingers and muddy shoes as well as a substantial 345-litre boot. Suzuki has a history of building hard-wearing and affordable cars, and although the Vitara is perhaps almost too pretty to roll around in the mud, it really can get down and dirty if needs be.
“WHEN IT COMES TO APPEARANCES, WHAT WE NOW HAVE IS A VEHICLE THAT IS RATHER SCULPTED, GIVING THE IMPRESSION THAT IT HAS UNDERGONE MANY HOURS AT THE GYM AND TAKEN A GENTLE DOSE OF STEROIDS TO BEEF ITSELF UP” a gentle dose of steroids to beef itself up. When it comes to character, think Clooney, Pitt and Depp with a bit of Eddie Redmayne in the mix and you’ll get the idea. Svelte and understated, the Suzuki Vitara has reinvented itself as a crossover. What we see now is a selfassured vehicle that knows what it is and what it isn’t and is unashamedly in touch with its feminine side… Good-
Out on the road, it is eager to please, with an engine that is nippy and steering that is light. Moreover, starting at €17,500, it is significantly cheaper than the competition. Now in its fourth generation, it has stood the test of time, and although the Baywatch babes are no more and the shoulder pads are long gone, the newlook Suzuki Vitara promises to be as exciting and popular as it ever was. Pink March 2016 ∫ 85
THE FUTURE IS
PINK ARIES MARCH 20-APRIL 18 The Aries New Moon on April 7 alters your perspective on existing arrangements and introduces new ideas and offers. While you’re superb at dealing with last-minute events, take it slowly. Make it clear what interests you, but with yet more intriguing ideas appearing all month, sidestep commitments. As important, declutter your diary and life of once-worthwhile goals that you realise are increasingly outdated. This soon makes it clear who and what mean most and, equally, what it’s time to say farewell to.
CANCER JUNE 20-JULY 21 Ordinarily, you try to minimise potentially unsettling changes. But you’re eager to break free from tedious or restrictive arrangements at home, in your daily routine, or at work. Between shakeups in March and the powerful New Moon on April 7, you’re already seeing the huge promise in potential changes. True, there’ll be moments when you must think and perhaps commit swiftly. Waste no time debating facts. Your intuition will tell you everything. Trust it, even if it means making a leap of faith.
LIBRA SEPTEMBER 22-OCTOBER 21 As April begins, you’ll still be wrestling with the changes triggered by the Libra eclipsed Full Moon on March 23. Tempting as it is to seek a quick solution, you’ll regret it. Actually, initially, you should focus on what must go. Only once you’ve decluttered your mind and life by mid-April will potential decisions be clear. Don’t worry about changes being unsettling for others. They, too, are rethinking their lives, activities and priorities. Discussing even disruptive plans together will bring you closer.
CAPRICORN DECEMBER 21-JANUARY 19 Being an organiser, you tend to shoulder the responsibility for personal decisions, those that inﬂuence the lives and careers of others and to everybody’s proﬁt. But during March, April and May, with forthright Mars in the most strategic portion of your chart, you must back off. While uncomfortable, this introduces you to new people and unfamiliar ideas, all of which broaden your perspective and options. While often the beneﬁts will be obvious, some will require patience. Still, the results will be worth waiting for.
According to astrologer SHELLEY VON STRUNCKEL… TAURUS
APRIL 19-MAY 19 While eclipses in March shook up elements of your life, and were unsettling at the time, looking back, you’re grateful they took place. They triggered changes in everything from relations with friends, family and loved ones to certain ongoing duties, or obligations. The short-term disarray forced you to rethink, if not eliminate, burdensome arrangements. Savour the resulting freedom, but don’t be in a rush to replace what’s gone. There’s lots of exciting things waiting to be discovered, mostly during the months of May and June.
LEO JULY 22-AUGUST 21 You’ve good reason to battle those who are being ridiculous, or certain unfair demands. Instead, state your opinion; then busy yourself elsewhere. By mid-month, these and several other unworkable arrangements will have changed, and without you wasting time on them. April is a month of transition in the world around you, but even more in your own priorities. For this reason, be ﬁrm about letting go of the past. This is clearing the way for exciting and often completely unexpected events yet to come.
SCORPIO OCTOBER 22-NOVEMBER 20 While you can’t plan ahead for the unexpected, you can ensure that what you organise is ﬂexible enough to be able to respond to surprise developments. True, you’ll already have faced the sudden changes triggered by March’s two eclipses. However, these inﬂuence everybody and mean rethinking several long-standing arrangements. More important, they’re preparing you for the pivotal events triggered by the emotionally intense Scorpio Full Moon on April 22. What comes your way will free you for new adventures.
AQUARIUS JANUARY 20-FEBRUARY 18 Once you understand that no matter how carefully you think plans through, they’re unlikely to proceed as you intend, you’ll stop worrying about sudden changes. The primary cause will be dramatic developments in the world around you, but as you learn more, you’ll focus on what’s new and begin saying farewell to the past – even certain long-standing arrangements. Although life might be in considerable disarray now, have faith. Before the end of April, the picture will be clearer, and it will all make sense.
Visit www.shelleyvonstrunckel.com to learn more and order your own chart.
GEMINI MAY 20-JUNE 19 This year is a year of change for you, others and the world. Remember this and, while some of what arises will be unsettling, you’ll recognise that most events will lead to exciting, if not unimagined, opportunities. Should others seek advice, be vague. Similarly, if anybody insists you commit to plans for the present or future, express interest, but make no promises. It’s the same with emotional alliances. The more openhearted your attitude about existing or future relationships, the happier you’ll be.
VIRGO AUGUST 22-SEPTEMBER 21 Even the simplest of plans are unlikely to last long. Recognise that and you’ll stop worrying about details being perfect. Instead, organise things loosely; then focus on venturing into unfamiliar territory. Risky as this seems, ongoing changes enable you to dip into ideas, pursuits and encounters you’d otherwise avoid for fear of wasting time. On the contrary, what doesn’t work will prove as informative as what does. Knowing that, take chances. As for the necessary long-term decisions? You’ll make them in late May.
SAGITTARIUS NOVEMBER 21-DECEMBER 20 Exciting ideas and offers are thrilling, but obviously, you want to decide how to respond. Yet, during April, in many situations, things won’t be up to you. While this will be annoying, if not upsetting, it’s for the best. Those making decisions, or perhaps, destiny itself will take you into new, unfamiliar, but ultimately, worthwhile territory in everything from your life to close alliances and career. Out of character as going with the ﬂow is, it’s the best option, as you’ll soon realise.
PISCES FEBRUARY 19-MARCH 19 Because the Pisces eclipsed Full Moon in early March will have triggered shakeups in your personal and relationship life, as April begins, you’ll still be exploring your options. While, obviously, being unsure what’s next is unsettling, this also gives you time to explore both ideas and ventures that are intriguing, but would take you into unfamiliar territory. Ignore pressure to settle on plans. Put yourself ﬁrst and do things at your own pace. Investing time in what you’re learning now will pay off handsomely later. Pink March 2016 ∫ 87
After winning the Face of Diet Kinnie competition, model Nicole Ebejer says we can pretty much expect to see her everywhere soon.
ou went from ‘nothing’ to ending up on the cover of this leading fashion magazine through a glam overseas photo shoot. Have you taken all this in your stride, or do you still pinch yourself to wake up from the dream and think it’s surreal? Funnily enough, I still pinch myself just to double check if I’m dreaming or not when I see myself on magazines and social media.
Did you feel you had a good chance of winning the Face of Diet Kinnie competition when it was announced at The Pink Fashion Show, and what do you think clinched it? I honestly believe each and every one of us had a good chance of winning since the girls were all amazing. It think it must have been my outgoing personality. What have you learnt – and unlearnt – from your experience so far, both as regards modelling and work/life in general? I’ve learnt that behind a great photo there’s a lot of hard work, and if you do that and apply all your energy, you can go far and reach your goals. Now that the Face of Diet Kinnie has launched your modelling career, so to speak, and you have a one-year modelling contract with Supernova Model Management under the guidance of Marisa Grima, what do you hope to be doing in this field in the years to come? I’d love to keep doing what I’m doing because it’s something I really enjoy. I hope to experience working abroad as well. That would be a dream come true!
Pink March 2016 ∫ 89
What has been your best experience so far, since the day you learnt about the Face of Diet Kinnie? The photo shoot at the Corinthia Hotel London was by far an experience of a lifetime, while I also enjoyed the shoot for the Diet Kinnie campaign, where I had to dress up as and impersonate different fashion icons. How would you describe your stint in London – your first [overseas] assignment? Did you feel up to the job with the bit of experience you had behind you? I must say, I felt pretty confident. Having stylist Marisa Grima with me was a bonus and the whole team was simply amazing. What have you been doing as the Face of Diet Kinnie? Where can we expect to see you? I’ve done photo shoots for billboards, social media and TV, so I guess you’ll be seeing a bit of me everywhere soon. Do you feel there is potential to move on in modelling in Malta, or is it somewhat of a dead end? In my opinion, yes, sure, there is plenty of room for professional modelling in Malta and it’s also improving a lot at a pretty fast pace. What is your next dream? To continue with my modelling career overseas. The Face of Diet Kinnie was launched in 2010 and featured Britain’s Next Top Model winner, Tiffany Pisani, in the 2011 local marketing campaign. In 2015, the Face of Diet Kinnie campaign was launched through an app on the Kinnie Facebook page, giving people between the ages of 15 and 25 the opportunity to apply through the digital platform. Over 200 people did so and were shortlisted to 10 ﬁnalists.
∫ Pink March 2016
I am taste This campaign is based around the unique selling point of Diet Kinnie – its taste – which is further emphasised, visually, through the famous iconic fashion faces that Nicole portrays. They have been strategically chosen to be recognisable by the target audience, while still speaking to the masses.