Malta Diary Envious of the Midas Touch – but does it all turn to gold … or maybe glass?
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My estimation of television, television stations and the media in general is that standards have plummeted and plummeted and are still going down. I was raised in a world which opined the only word to be trusted is that of the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC). Sadly, this is no longer either. Today I do not trust any one single media but weigh up the pros and cons and make my own judgement – despite media bombardment.
One TV station I do watch is BBC Entertainment, an overseas package that over the years has declined and declined. Nowadays it is merely repeats of features that we have seen again and again and now almost know all the dialogue by heart. Their only “contemporary” features are ‘Eastenders’, ‘Doctors’ and ‘Casualty’ with a month-long time lag after they appear in the UK.
The ‘Antiques Roadshow’ is one that has always fascinated me because of its different localities and antiques surprises and evaluations. If somebody brings in an empty rusted can of baked beans which they picked up off a rubbish heap, a panel ‘expert’ will pronounce that the can contents had been eaten by Prince William and this had been verified after tests revealed his DNA on the lid and therefore the can is now worth £20,000!
However, a four or five-year-old episode screened the other day raised my hackles and my ire to extreme. A lady brought in a large glass vase and said her parents had bought it from Malta back in the 70s from a company called Mdina Glass and she had treasured it ever since.
The “expert” handling the case was one Andy McConnell who has always struck me as being a know-all about all there is to know that is worth knowing.
He praised the vase, its texture, its delicate design and manufacture and then went on to regale us with his vast knowledge. The Company had been started in Malta in 1968 by Michael Harris, an industrial glass design expert and lecturer at the Royal College of Art. Together with his colleague Eric Dobson they set up Maltese Glass Industries which was soon changed to Mdina Glass.
Their scope was to move away from traditional glass designs into new design dimensions and they succeeded very well and the glass-blowing manufacturers soon became renowned throughout Europe. Then came the downturn.
McConnell said, “However, Dom Mintoff was elected to Government in 1971 and he forced the British to leave and sadly Harris and his family had to return to England as a result”.
What a load of nonsense and rubbish. Dom Mintoff did nothing of the sort. From the onset of his career he had always made it crystal clear that his grudge was against the British Government for political reasons and NOT the British people. The reasons mainly involved his perception that Malta had been hard-done by because the British Government lauded Malta on the one hand for its resistance and bravery during WWII but on the other hand denied Malta politically and economically. This he felt was an insult that had to be righted.
I will not go into all the reasons but on re-election as Prime Minister in 1971 (after his stint between 1955 and 1958 when he clamoured for Malta’s independence) at a juncture when in fact Malta had become independent, the British Military Services were still outrightly using Malta for defence and dominated large tracts of the island territorially as well as keeping a tight clamp on airspace and the island’s territorial waters and foreign policy.
His demand was “you use and so have to pay for using” on a timeline to 1979 by which time all British forces will have to pull out – which they did.
Mintoff had studied at Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar; his wife Moira was English; their daughters Yana and Anne attended British universities and lived and married in England. Among his principle advisors he had Lord Thomas Balogh – a renowned British economist.
During his time British manufacturing companies like De La Rue and Toly Products set up Malta plants and Malta Rubber (later to become Trelleborg) flourished. In addition, at the time the gigantic Italo-Franco ST Microelectronics group opened a Malta Plant as did the German Playmobil Company – and all are still here today and flourishing and employing thousands of people and contributing substantially to Malta’s GDP!
Harris and his family left in 1973 for PERSONAL reasons and were NOT forced out. In fact his colleague Dobson remained in Malta and continued to run Mdina Glass for several years after!
In time, the number of Maltese personnel grew and glass-blowing and shaping became an entrenched skill and the Company now employs 50 people. It has won a plethora of awards and has become a hallmark in the world of glass design and manufacture.
Well, to finish off, McConnell valued the lady’s vase as being worth several thousands of pounds. Sadly however, if his evaluations are on a par with his political knowledge, I would not place much stock on them.
In short Mr Andy McConnell of the Antiques Roadshow – take a hike!
“If he/she falls in the water – he/she will not get wet”
Referring to somebody who is always lucky, whatever he or she does it always turns up trumps.