EXCLUSIVE: Martin the Pigeon Man, homeless on the streets of Dublin for many years, is not only Maltese but from a very particular social background
Serendipitously, an Irish acquaintance who worked for some years in Malta but who is now back in Dublin saw this interview published today, decided to listen to it during a slow moment at work, and snapped alert.
He not only recognised the accent as being unmistakably Maltese, but also what he called ‘Sliema’, and immediately sent me the link.
Yes, in Martin the Pigeon Man’s generation – his age is given as around 60 – that accent was associated only with a very particular social group. Take what I am going to say next as purely an academic observation and nothing else.
To outsiders, all ‘tal-pepe’ accents and people are much of a muchness and undifferentiated. But to insiders, there are several distinctly differentiated groups within the overarching category, and that accent belongs to one very particular group.
There are really very few families from which Martin the Pigeon Man could have come, making his current situation on the freezing streets of Dublin all the more tragic and mysterious.
While he speaks perfectly coherently and in proper sentences, there are obvious signs of mental illness, like the fact that in his old age he is still excited to wake up every day away from his mother.
As a firm believer in personal liberty, I don’t think anyone has the right to interfere in how Martin the Pigeon Man lives. But if his situation is the result of mental illness or a spiral of financial ruin, he should be helped. The Maltese embassy in Dublin could at least look into it, offer him assistance, and give him the opportunity to refuse it.
But even if he refuses it, the embassy staff should make a point of ‘adopting’ him and keep an eye out for him, making sure he has what he needs.
If there is anyone reading this blog-post who recognises Martin in the photograph, or by his voice, or who has some idea who he might be, please contact me in confidence at firstname.lastname@example.org
There is no way that he could have that accent without actually growing up in Malta among people who spoke that way, and that would mean he also went to school here. So if you are a man of around 60 and went to a certain school (or a certain kind of school), please think hard. The likelihood is that he is one of the many late 1960s ‘Sliema’ escapees to swinging London, who fell through the net.