Max is in the waiting room.Last week, he sold his much maligned 10 year-old Hyundai Accent. There was no time to say goodbye, only to sign log books. Sometime at the end of September, Max takes delivery of a Ford Focus. The reviews say ‘value for money, family hatchback with conservative looks’. Max really wanted to buy a Golf GTI or a four-wheeler to ride the potholes. Max thinks his next car will have soul. Tomorrow, Max and his brood take the hydrofoil to Pozzallo for an 11-day break to Sicily. In October there is a long-term contract to grapple with. It will be the first time in six years that Max has to adjust to a routine and go to an office. In February, Max wants to go to Milan to watch Depeche Mode with some new friends. Sometime, Max will pick up a copy of the Times, and feel that he can connect with what is going on outside his door. A cursory review of the letters pages, or a chance overheard conversation between three men in a bar proposing their own Orwellian solution to Malta’s ‘illegal immigrants’ problem is enough to send Max scuttling to a bottle of wine. Max wonders why he can never quite get a grasp of the present.
August slows down the brain. Air-conditioners hum 24/7, traffic jams get longer, mothers get irritable with their young, fathers shrug their shoulders and secretly lust over the language school babes in their skimpy holiday gear. Trade Unions mired in the past threaten national strikes in sympathy of workers sacked from Interprint. Public transport chiefs call a work to rule because they want state subsidy increased. And the President of the Republic is on a private visit, overseas, to escape the heat.And in the space that it took the Brits to build the M25, and entire sections of the M40, the Maltese contractors continue to build the road linking Siggiewi to the outside world. The sign promising new roads for a better life is covered with snow dust. Minister Mullet’s PR visits to the brave new roads has, to date, excluded the Siggiewi road. Cars navigate down different goat tracks every day, as different sections of a road not longer than 1,000 metres get closed on a daily basis to accommodate diggers straight out of Bob the Builder, falling debris, and men walking slowly. Only on weekends and feast days does the route remain unchanged, when the men in string vests and cowboy hats go away and do what the rest of the nation does. It’s a summer that has to date included: bouts of work, bouts of lethargy, a friend’s wife dying in the middle of divorce proceedings, other friends contemplating break ups, new daily routines to drive Jacob to summer school, parties that never quite took off, snatched fixes of poetry books, red wine instead of white, conversatons that go nowhere, cicadas screaming a constant, mad razor. At night, Max dreams of driving an red Mustang across the Mojave desert. Max is woken up by Jacob announcing it is almost time to celebrate his third birthday.