Pig ear press

I was watching a farmer today who was moving his flock of a dozen or so sheep and goats along a hillside; he was smoking and drinking beer from the bottle while his two dogs circled and yapped. Between him and me were two Japanese tourists rotating a map as if it were a painting by Pollock. I thought about offering help. I also thought about wandering over to the pigeon house on the hill to chat to the birds. I did neither.


With a bus card you can go anywhere on the island for 75c. It's how I got away from the farmer and the Japanese tourists.  The driver it turns out is from South London. His Dad took him to watch Crystal Palace play when he was a kid too: 'It was 50p for my Dad and 30p for me back then'. We talk about the impossibility of the language, the reliability of the new buses, the best bars on the island, our respective dogs and how this dot on the map is not too bad at all. We say goodbye as we pull up at my stop. He shakes my hand like he means it and that feels good, because all too often these days it feels like there's no heart in it.


On the way down Varinja Street towards home a three-generation family are hurrying to one of the many churches, the youngest clearly knowing where they are going and not willing to go there without a fight. The child's mother has on tottering heels and struggles to win the fight. The grandmother offers what appears to be unwanted advice and the father and grandfather stand silently on the wings, hands in pockets, probably thinking about the Juventus match that's on in a few hours, and the beer and pastizzi that awaits them at the bar after church. It all seems to resolve itself fairly quickly and as I pass I exchange nods with the two men.


I enter my house, feed the dog, step into the yard and look out on the citrus trees bursting with colour. A plastic statue of Mary stares back at me from a recess in the wall. I don't think I've done anything too bad today and I smile and go back inside.

Gozo

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