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Saturday, 25 May 2013

The Maltese Talkin' - Chapter 5 - Paceville (And Its After Effects)

Chapter 5.

Paceville: The nightlife zone in between my flat (Riviera Court) and my workplace (Superbowl). Paceville: the clubbing district of Malta. I had been warned by Eric and Davinia to avoid it, but its location had made that neigh impossible.
The place came alive as evening emerged, the central nightclubs would start pumping out dance music too loud for that daylight hour. Promoters would be handing out B.O.G.O.F drinks tokens to encourage the all-important first customers in. During each evening’s early stage a few of the youngest language students would be milling around looking lost, while holiday-making families sought out restaurants. Soon the Maltese would congregate on the outskirts hanging around shop-cum-bars drinking in large groups, jesting and fooling around. One guy would act the lummox, playfully accosting passers-by as his friends exaggerated their amazement with cries of “Il Allu!” – translated into English it means “Oh God” but the Maltese is misspelt to make it less blasphemous, so the direct translation, I suppose, would be “Oh Gud!”

I grabbed some drink tokens and went home to cook and get ready to find out what all the fuss was about. As midnight drew near I left my flat and followed the crowds all heading towards the magnetic neon pull, a steady stream of pupils arriving at a new cult. I recalled all the times in my life I had seen a beautiful girl walking in the opposite direction to me in the street. As they passed me I would often wonder where they were going. Now I knew. I felt I had stumbled upon the secret of each and every babe’s absolute final destination: Paceville.

When they arrived they didn’t stop walking. Everybody there seemed in a rush to get to the next club, to follow their friends, to meet others someplace else, always just around the corner. I stood still and watched. Maltese girls seemed to dress like twins; matching outfits. Two girls dressed in black and yellow like bumble bees. Three dressed all in white, save for their red belts: darling plump parcels wrapped with red ribbon. Groups of guys prowled in packs. You could almost smell the pheromones, the excitement, the hormones. Wondrous confusion resonated from the pavement’s dry heat, from the cigarette smoke, from the garish mixture of songs converging into an out-of-time throbbing pulse at the central crossroads: the country’s arteries. 

 - Hearts were broken and sparks of lust set others aflame - 

            As the night thrust on, the nightclubs filled up and squashed you onto the dance floors, no choice but to move - either rhythmically or out of there. The songs got into your head and you smiled a drunken smile, and it seemed everyone smiled. 

By the early hours of the morning the Maltese had returned home. Disheveled members of the European aristocracy were smooching on the padded seats at the edge of the dance floor and the streets were littered with empty glass bottles and passed-out Aryan teenagers. On the way back to Riviera Court was a Pastizerria: a small shop that baked Pastizzi: a cheap little pastry filled with pea paste or ricotta cheese. This Pastizerria named ‘Champ’ was open 24 hours a day, it also produced trays of pizza loaded with molten cheese and flavoursome green olives on a thick doughy base that soaked up all the excess oil. The Pizza came in a white paper bag that was made translucent by the grease almost instantaneously. It was dirt-cheap and the perfect ending to any cheap, dirty night.

            My alternative option for an evening’s stroll was back towards the Astra Hotel. I would often walk this route if I didn’t feel like drinking. A wide promenade ran all the way to Sliema and was full of dog walkers, groups of nuns, new mothers pushing baby carriages, exemplary families all sporting Ralph Loren, joggers sweating for success, and just about anyone who was anyone. The promenade hugged the twilight’s navy blue sea that turned the orange streetlamps and yellow lights of hotel rooms into dancing sea snakes. I could sit on a bench underneath thick palm trees and get overcome by the aura of richness and fertility. At times like these, sat under the moon’s insect glow, I would feel acute loneliness. Peculiarly it felt liberating, because it allowed for extensive introspective trains of thought. I was beginning to construct a new identity on my own agenda. I was reading extensively. Gin-soaked paranoia and ‘The Fall’ by Albert Camus made me consider the effects of being judged and of judging people. Following this I came across a ‘non-violent communication’ theory known as Jackals and Giraffes on the Internet. It was a way of talking whereby you never demand or judge but say how you feel and give others the opportunity to act or respond accordingly. You observe others and guess how they feel and what they need, occasionally making requests in the hope of coming to an empathetic understanding. 
  • A Jackal might say “Don’t sit on that bench under that palm tree staring at us with your wild eyes, it gives our pleasant evening an edge of awkwardness.”
  • Whereas a Giraffe would say “You look wild eyed. Is it because you feel lost? It makes us feel less comfortable about ourselves. We would feel better if you strolled along at an amicable pace like the rest of us.”


One night I stole a large rectangular board that had come unattached to the railings. On one side it advertised ‘Calypso’ but the other was pure white. Onto the white surface I painted an elegant giraffe’s neck and head, swirling black and white circles jumped out of the figure that stuck out its long blue tongue. 

When you get creative it gives you a rush. I liked playing with the forms and I liked this image of the land animal with the biggest heart since the dinosaurs, so I began making a conscious effort to speak like a giraffe. 
I noticed it making a positive effect on Yin my Korean flatmate.
“I see you are cooking, you must feel exhausted and in need of energy after a hard day learning English. The smell of the food makes me feel hungry.”
I tried the seaweed she was cooking but didn’t like it at all. Never the less I continued talking in Giraffe.
“I don’t like the taste of this but I feel more cultured for having tried it because seaweed isn’t a staple cuisine in England.”
“Oh OK Chris.” She said nervously.
…“You’re beginning to look stressed. Would you like to go out, drink some beer and blow off some steam?”

At a Paceville bar I got to know a Chinese friend of Yin’s who agreed to come over and cut my hair. It was all very giggly; a drunk giraffe getting a tipsy haircut. A week later I went out with my newly trimmed head and saw my kind hairdresser on her own. We drank a few sangrias together. She had left the clippers at my flat and asked if she could come back to pick them up. I obliged and before long we were both naked, sat cross-legged in my bed and she was rolling a condom onto my little giraffe. As we screwed she made high-pitched noises but they didn’t turn me on, they sounded grim like a squeaking baby strapped to a seesaw.  In the morning I no longer wanted to be a giraffe and refused to let her join me for breakfast.

Come Saint Patrick’s Day the whole Superbowl crew were going for a night out in Paceville, or PV as they called it. As I mop the floor Neville pulls on a T-shirt emblazoned with the Pepsi logo; the writing reads ‘Sexsi.’
He yells “Yeah Yeah!” and rubs his hands together. 

We all drink a lot of Cisk larger and are soon up and dancing, I feel a rump bumping my crotch and place my hands on Dawn's hips. I admire a beauty spot on her face and her bashful expression. We kiss for a minute or two but then Dawn pulls away worried she will hurt Neville’s feelings. He hadn’t seemed to notice as her friend was suggestively dancing with him at the time. Soon they both leave and the remainder of the group plonks down at a table in a different nightclub.
Alex and I spy and group of girls a-spying us. We invite them over and I begin nattering with a girl with short hair called Kylie who is just my type: tomboy, big gums! We hit it off talking skateboarding after I’d noticed her Vans shoes. Neville is speaking to a girl with a burnt face, and Alex has run out of conversation and looks bemused. The girls leave; Kylie gives me her phone number and a peck on the lips.
The drinking continues. Back at my flat Timms, Kurt and Alex start drinking the gin from the kitchen. Soon Kata, my witchy Hungarian landlady, flies out of her bedroom shouting at them to get out, says she can’t trust strangers in the house. 

In the morning fueled by sleep and still half-drunk, the joy of waking up with no hangover gives me a buzz-saw madness, I begin going about the day as normal. I shower and get on the bus to Valletta. I'd planned to visit Malta School of Art to investigate its potential as ‘the place for me’. Approaching it, the ancient crumbling Old Bakery Street installs bohemian anticipation in me. I enter the hallowed halls of an esteemed, pillared building that houses white Romanesque nude statues and renaissance paintings. A tutor tells me to come back in two hours for a tour. My head begins to pound as the sunlight grows vicious, and a violent need to rehydrate in a dark room grabs me by the throat. I see a sign for a cinema down a back-street so I grab a ticket and a litre cup of Pepsi.


 As I sit down the room fills with a ten-foot erect penis, then the largest pair of boobs I’ve ever witnessed graces the silver screen. I look around: a few old men reclining in the shadows. I’ve stumbled into a porn cinema! The sheer size of the pornography makes it more frightening than erotic and as I sit there St Patrick’s effects take a hold. I shiver, my eyes push against my bruised brain. My mouth dries up. My head thumps itself and my body weighs me down. Never before have I felt terrified by the effects of gravity. I force myself to endure two hours worth of the gargantuan genitalia. In the end the darkness helped the hangover and, after wildly cracking and chewing all the ice from my supersize Pepsi, I was ready to face the world of natural light: reborn, a child conceived in a porno.

All was well again, except now, any mundane situation seemed on the verge mutating into hard repetitive sex. Until I felt a little less fragile I would need to avoid mechanic’s garages, faulty showers and Romanesque banquets. I doubt I will ever be able to forget the noise, in full digital surround sound, of skin slapping against skin. The art school was nice, tranquil, but for someone like myself, maybe it was a little too conservative.


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