1983: while the people were starving, Malta’s mini Ben Alis and Trabelsis made hay

Published: February 1, 2011 at 8:18pm
All aboard for a weekend of R & R while the country goes to hell: Silvio tas-Spiaggia, Karmenu Vella, Dom Mintoff and Valletta City footballer Carlo Seychell

All aboard for a weekend of R & R while the country goes to hell: Silvio tas-Spiaggia, Karmenu Vella, Dom Mintoff and Valletta City footballer Carlo Seychell

In-…..Taghna, 12 August 1983



In…Taghna titlob lill-awtoritajiet koncernati jaghmlu investigazzjonijiet dwar zewg jottijiet li nhar il-Gimgha fil-ghaxija dahlu fil-bajja tal-Ghadira u hattew minn fuqhom kaxxi, pakketti u affarijiet ohra.

Iz-zewg jottijiet, ‘Stormy’ u ‘Lady Jo’, li fuqhom jidhru spiss il-Ministru Karmenu Vella u d-Deputat Mintoffjan John Dalli, rispettivament, huma registrati fir-Renju Unit u dahlu l-Ghadira ghall-habta tas-6pm. Humna rabtu mas-simenta li hemm fejn ir-ristorant Tunny Net li xtara dan l-ahhar id-Deputat MIntoffjan John Dalli. Fuq is-simenta, lejn iz-zewg jottijiet, resqu zewg karozzi li fihom inhattew kaxxi maghluqa, pakketti u xi affarijiet ohra. Kaxxi u pakketti dehru jiddahhlu ukoll fir-ristorant Tunny Net u izjed tard issejhet taxi li fiha wkoll tghallew xi pakki u pakketti.

Mhux maghruf x’kien fihom dawn il-kaxxi u l-pakketti u jekk iz-zewg jottijiet dahlux l-Ghadira minn xi port iehor f’Malta jew inkella gewx minn barra l-pajjiz. Il-probabilita hi li z-zewg jottijiet dahlu minn Sqallija.

In…Taghna ghalhekk titlob lill-awtoritajiet koncernati jivverifikaw il-jottijiet ‘Stormy’ u ‘Lady Jo’ minn fejn dahlu l-Ghadira u jekk kellhomx il-permess biex jidhlu f’dik il-bajja meta talbiet li saru minn sidien ta’ jottijiet ohra, biex jidhlu hemmhekk, ma nghatawx il-permess mehtieg mill-awtoritajiet tal-Port.

Kemm il-darba z-zewg jottijiet dahlu minn barra l-pajjiz, il-pulizija tal-immigrazzjoni u l-ufficjali tad-Dwana kienu nfurmati u x’passi hadu?

Iz-zewg jottijiet raqdu hemmhekk (ir-ritratt juri z-zewg jottijiet marbutin l-Ghadira s-Sibt filghodu) u l-‘Lady Jo’ hareg it-tnejn filghodu. Fuqu kien hemm id-deputat Mintoffjan John Dalli flimkien ma’ mebri tal-familja tieghu li hu maghruf li marru fuq vaganza fuqu.

Tajjeb ukoll wiehed jinvestiga jekk ir-restrizzjonijiet li beda jattwa dan l-ahhar il-Bank Centrali humiex japplikaw ghal nies simili ukoll. Skond dawn ir-restrizzjonijiet, wiehed jista johrog flus bara l-pajjiz ghal vaganza mhux aktar minn darba kull xahrejn u jekk hu fuq negozju mhux aktar minn darba fix-xahar.


I remember this clearly when I was 19 years old (not even 19 yet, because my birthday was two weeks later). It was a big scandal, but to put it into context, you have to remember – or discover for the first time if you are younger than I am – these salient points.

1. Labour was in government with fewer votes than the Nationalist Party but more seats.

2. The country was wracked by unrest, mob violence, bombs, corruption from top to bottom, thuggery and the whims and excesses of Lorry Sant and Ronnie Pellegrini, Patrick Holland and Fusellu, Joe Grima and his lorries, and KMB leading the aristocracy of the workers to wreak occasional havoc in Valletta.

3. There were angry mass meetings and demonstrations of tens of thousands of people almost every weekend.

4. There were hardly any shops and nothing in them.

5. There were severe financial restrictions on travel – you were allowed to take so little money out of the country that you couldn’t leave in the first place.

6. Anyone coming off a plane or the ferry from Sicily was practically strip-searched for hidden chocolates and other pathetic basic items and then held to ransom if any were found.

7. Hawkers on the Sicilian markets pitied the Maltese and regarded us with contempt like the Austrians pitied the deprived people of Bratislava who were allowed to cross the Iron Curtain in their Trabants for a few hours of normal life.

8. Private yachts and cabin cruisers – there were hardly any and they all belonged to those who were in with our local Ben Alis and Trabelsis – needed permission from the Port Authority to move around the coast. They had to be back in their registered berth by dusk and there was a strict ban on overnighting in bays.

9. The vast majority of the population was out of work, scrapping around in the Pijunieri or equivalent, or earning the minimum wage in the private sector and considering themselves bloody lucky to do so.

If you had told me back then that, 27 years later in 2011 at the age of 46, having raised a family and waved them off – literally a whole new generation – I would be sitting here listening to the news that this very same Karmenu Vella would be writing Labour’s electoral programme for the years 2013 to 2018 – the plan for what would effectively be my grandchildren’s generation – I would have laughed. And laughed. And laughed in disbelief.

And then I would have cried. Because at the levels of despair we were all in then (except for the Trabelsis and the Ben Alis), we thought it would never end.

And by God, we were right.

100 Comments Comment

  1. Chris says:

    What’s In-…Taghna?

    [Daphne – Gracious, history really did begin in 1987. Right, under Labour parliament legislated to ban the use of the words ‘nazzjon’, ‘national’ and ‘Malta’ except by the state on official business. Any company, shop, business, etc with any of those words in its name had to find another name or just drop the banned words. That was when The Times of Malta became just ‘The Times’, and when pharmacies called ‘National’ had to start calling themselves ‘Rational’. And so on. The Nationalist Party newspaper, In-Nazzjon Taghna, refused to change its name on principle, and so took the step of dropping the ‘nazzjon’ from the masthead and replacing it with a map of Malta. It became known as ‘L-inn taghna’, in mockery of the law.]

  2. liberal says:

    Deputat Mintoffjan John Dalli?

    [Daphne – My goodness, I’m astonished that for many, political history begins in 1987. Yes, deputat Mintoffjan John Dalli. Another John Dalli, brother-in-law to Helena. He was huge in the late 1970s and early 1980s.]

  3. anthony says:

    According to Joe Grima, this same Karmenu Vella is going to give Malta its future back.

    If Grima thinks we have all lost it, he is wrong. I know for a certainty that one person still has it and that’s me.

  4. David S says:

    You forgot to mention that the university student population in 1986 was a mere 700 students, as a result of KMB’s infamous “20 punt”. Today it’s 11,000, besides thousands more at MCAST and ITS.

    A generation lost the opportunity to tertiary education.

    Ooops, Hon Karmenu Vella was a minister in that cabinet of horrors. U le!

  5. Antoine Vella says:

    The last bit of the report, about currency restrictions, reminded me of something. I used to study and work in Milan throughout the 1970s until 1981 and, whenever I wanted to change Maltese into Italian money, I had to take my passport to the bank. The cashier would write down the amount I had changed and this would then be carefully checked by the police at the airport. Just in case I was going to smuggle vast riches out of the country.

  6. dudu says:

    Daphne, I think you should write about these people in your Sunday article on the Independent for maximum exposure.

    • Grezz says:

      I agree. The younger generation – unless their parents bring the subject up – are unlikely to know much about the disaster we will be led into yet again if Labour are elected, what with the same old Labour faces still there, decades down the line. As for their policies? They will never change.

  7. S.Azzopardi says:

    “Iz-zewg jottijiet, ‘Stormy’ u ‘Lady Jo’, li fuqhom jidhru spiss il-Ministry Karmenu Vella u d-Deputat Mintoffjan John Dalli,”

    As I’m too young to remember might I ask three questions?

    1) Who owned these yachts?

    2) Were Karmenu Vella and John Dalli really on board these two yachts at the moment of this incident?

    3) What was the conclusion – was something illegal really being carried on?


    [Daphne – The yachts were registered in the United Kingdom in the names of companies. The persons most frequently seen on them in an ownership capacity were Karmenu Vella and John Dalli (not the EU Commissioner, but Helena Dalli’s brother-in-law, who was a Labour MP and bigshot. Yes, they were on the boats. Yes, it was illegal to bring goods into the country in that manner. There was a near-total ban on imports of consumer goods, severe restrictions on personal purchases bought overseas (you had to declare everything in your suitcase and pay duty on it) and bringing in certain items – chocolates, for example – was prohibited. To bring in a couple of packets of chocolates in your suitcase, you would have to slip the customs official a fiver or he would confiscate them. It’s hard for you to understand in today’s anything-goes scenario, but back in 1983 you couldn’t take a boat to Sicily, sail it back to Ghadira with a load of consumer goods and just bring them ashore without being bunged up in jail.]

    • Rita Camilleri says:

      no chocolate, no shampoo, no toothpaste….

      • ASP says:

        We had bought a teddy bear (as big as a child) from London. At Luqa airport we had to lie to avoid having it confiscated because we weren’t allowed to ‘import’ new toys. We said that the bear had left Malta with us and gone on holiday because I (a child back then) couldn’t sleep without it. It was 1987.

  8. Joe Scerri says:

    Thank you, Daphne, for reminding us about those dark times. People our age remember them very well and do not forget. I am no big fan of PN but I would rather have PN warts and all than Labour.

  9. chavsRus says:

    What a load of rubbish. What have you been drinking?

    [Daphne – It’s not a load of rubbish, my ‘dear’. It’s pure, cast-iron fact. Having grown up in the relative heaven of post 1987 Malta, and with your Laburisti parents telling you nothing of what life was like before that, you are clearly at a loss and out of your depth. As for what I’ve been drinking – tea. It’s your former leader, Alfred Sant, and your current guru, Godfrey Grima, who knock back the whisky. But I bet you didn’t know that either.]

    • chavsRus says:

      It is total, unadulterated rubbish.

      “While the people were starving…”

      Give us a break!

      [Daphne – Yes, ChavsRUs, we were starving. Man does not live by bread alone, hence what is happening in Egypt now. You really have no idea, do you. And there was real under-nourishment too. You never saw the fat people you see now. What do you think – that we went for a coffee l-Ferries? Or popped out to buy snacks? Or raided the supermarket shelves for Europe’s best and most bountiful? Or ate in restaurants?]

      • Grezz says:

        Ah, but we were so desperate for a decent bar of chocolate, that we’d often pay Lm1 (that’s 2.33 Euros for chavsRus) for a Mars bar off the back of a lorry.

      • O Ellul Micallef says:

        Perhaps your parents didn’t have to queue for your household quota of sugar and oranges, ChavsRUs. Maybe they never bought the sole variety of corned beef with no best before date.

        Maybe they were in with the in-crowd, or maybe they’re just not telling you the truth.

        If you carry out some unbaised research, you’ll find the reality.

        Keep up your good work, Daphne.

      • chavsRus says:

        Yes, total unadulterated crap to use a more colloquial term.

        Welcome crap, as far as I am concerned. It’s very heartening to see that you are reduced to inventing fairy tales about the past to divert attention from the present.

        Carry on, please.

      • TROY says:

        chavsRus, I feel sorry for you and those like you who were kept in the dark by their parents, who are probably too ashamed to tell their children what the majority of the Maltese people went through in the Mintoff days.

        We were another Egypt, with the Labour regime dictating what to eat, buy, say and do. Those were the days when the favoured ones like John Dalli (not the EU Commissioner) ran the country.

        People like him were immune, protected by the police and the regime, and were able to take their yachts to Sicily and load them up with anything that they wanted, knowing that no one would dare to stop them.

        The ‘Lady Jo’ (named after Mrs Dalli) was like a symbol of power when moored at Ghadira. No one was allowed to even swim near it (ghax dik ta’ John). Then in the evenings when the cat was away………

      • Rita Camilleri says:

        Just answer one simple question – how old are you chavsRus?

      • il-Ginger says:

        If they want to improve the level of education in Malta they should scrap history lessons about Louis XIV and replace them with relevant ones, like stuff about Archbishop Gonzi and Mintoff and KMB. No pc bull to make everybody’s grandchildren proud, but the real stories, the facts and their real impact on Maltese life.

        ChavRUs, instead of disbelieving it, would say that the Maltese were better off then when they went without, because now they are overweight and have diabetes.

      • Joseph A Borg says:

        Oh come on, chavsRus. Daphne adds a bit of rhetorical flourish to her writing and most of the time it’s safely within entertainment limits.

        Are you perchance implying that in the 80s Malta was heaven on earth?

    • Rover says:

      chavRus, rubbish my foot.

      I distinctly remember the incident of the two yachts entering Mellieha bay and unloading boxes upon boxes ashore at the Tunny Net. It was Karmenu Vella, Labour’s new oracle and writer of all our socialist aspirations, and John Dalli (not the EU Commissioner), then Mintoff’s lackey as he was always hanging onto his tail.

      The flagrant abuse of power was unbelievable and these two Labour politicians, one a cabinet minister and the other a backbencher, in full view of anyone who cared to look on that hot August day, brought ashore contraband on which clearly they did not pay customs duty.

      The very same people who laid down the law for the rest of us were petty smugglers who had the front to bypass customs by illegally entering Mellieha, smuggling goods on which at the time lesser mortals had to pay a huge percentage of duty, and then claiming that they went to Mellieha by mistake. And guess what?

      They got away with it.

      Karmenu Vella and John Dalli should have gone to prison. At the very least, they should have been roughed up by the police, thrown into a filthy cell and interrogated for 48 hours after having their goods confiscated, as others were for much less – being suspected of having a ‘walkie talkie’, for example.

      Instead, Karmenu Vella was promoted to Minister for screwing the inland revenue and now he is the opposition spokesman for the economy and finance.

      Daphne, you don’t cry in desperation on your own.

    • dee says:

      Today Tetley, Typhoo, Green Tea, White Tea, Fruit Tea or anything you fancy tea. In those days, chavsRus, Daphne would have been drinking Tower Tea if she could stomach it. Only Tower Tea.

    • @chavsRus…….jekk int ma tafx b’dawn l-affarijiet mhux ahjar tiffacja lill genituri tieghek jew zijiet u issaqqsijhom?

      Iva, konna imjassrin. Jiena batejt hafna taht Mintoff, minghajr ilma, ghax ma kienx ikollna ilma kuljum, b’tfal zghar ta’ ftit xhur, sena u nofs u 3 snin – kollha bil-harqa ta’ dak iz-zmien qisha xugaman.

      Sahansitra l-bajd ma konniex insibu u imnalla missieri kien jara kif jiddobbalna halli inkunu nistaw nghatu xi wahda lil uliedhna.

      La ma kontx ghadek twelidt, mhux ahjar taqra ftit l-storja halli tara dak il-mishut gvern Laburista ta’ Mintoff kemm gieghlna inbatu.

  10. Yanika says:

    “Deputat Mintoffjan John Dalli” jigi in-‘Nazzjonalist’ John Dalli? Mela kien Mintoffjan?

    u In-…. Taghna hija gazzetta? Hemm xi raguni ghaliex mhux issemmiha b’isimha?

    Grazzi ta’ l-informazzjoni.

    [Daphne – Please see my replies to other commenters.]

    • maryanne says:

      “Hemm xi raguni ghaliex mhux issemmiha b’isimha?”

      Ara veru ma tafu xejn. Staqsi lil dear Joseph ghalfejn ma hemmx il-kelma Nazzjon, ha jispjegalek.

      • liberal says:

        I know the major events that happened like tal-Barrani, Raymond Caruana, Kurja, 81 election, Karen Grech etc. I knew about in-Taghna but not about John Dalli.

        So I know nothing? If you haven’t lived in those times and you’re interested, you read about the major occurences.

        You probably miss details from the Sixties like I miss from the early eighties, no big deal.

        [Daphne – I didn’t need to know the details of 1960s politics because they were never relevant in my adulthood. I first voted in 1987, when I was almost 23, not having been eligible to vote in 1981. Nothing from the sixties mattered then. But now we’re talking about a 1983 Labour cabinet minister who has just been tasked with writing the plan for Malta for the years 2013 to 2018, so those 1983 details are extremely relevant. Politicians are able to reinvent themselves and have fresh starts here in Malta because the press is really so very weak. Nobody brings these things up, and so bad politicians are able to reinvent themselves afresh with every generation that doesn’t remember them, and even with many of the generations who do remember them, but who believe that politicians are like stocks and shares and that past performance is no indicator of future performance, when it definitely is.]

      • R. Camilleri says:

        This stuff is not taught in schools, you know. Those of us born in the 80s or later would not know these stories. My post in the previous thread clearly shows that, I guess.

        As Liberal says, one would know the major stories, and even then it is hard to obtain objective information. The press really is shite here; it is its job to educate us on such matters.

    • GiovDeMartino says:

      In- Taghna…Yanika, do you know that the Malta Union of….had to change its name because the word Malta could not be used? The Movement of United Teachers (MUT), the Main Football Association (MFA) etc etc. A bottle of Ilma Zghar ta’ Malta had to have the word Malta deleted. Maltese Honey had to find some other name…The list is endless.

  11. Frans C says:

    In 1983 I was 11 years old, but I clearly remember how in those days my father used to tell me to go and buy him a newspaper named In-taghna.

    I remember him advising me to keep it to myself while on my way back home. I was baffled by the strange name of this particular newspaper. I used to wonder to myself what it could possibly mean.

    To my surprise, all became much more understantable after the 1987 election when on the day of the Nationalist Party election victory I read for the first time, at age 15, the real name of the paper, In-Nazzjon Taghna.

    All this is history, thanks to subsequent Nationalist governments, but some names from that politcal era are still very active: Karmenu Vella, now writing Labour’s electoral programme, Alex Sciberras Trigona, now Labour’s international secretary, Alfred Sant, Joe Debono Grech, Marie Louise Coleiro and others.

    These people are not worthy to govern this country again. If they are voted in, we will all get what not all deserve, sheer incompetence.

  12. Luigi says:

    I was brought up mainly post 1987 so I can’t really judge Labour of the 70s and 80s. The only Labour overnment I remember was Sant’s between 1996 and 1998, when he removed the stipends, and made a disaster out of our economy.

    • H.P. Baxxter says:

      By the same token, you can’t really judge Fascism, Communism, 60s music, 60s ideology, anything that happened before 1987 or anything that happened abroad, can you?

      OF COURSE you can judge! You SHOULD judge. Just read the history books, follow the news, look up old copies of The Times and ask your lecturers. And if they refuse to answer, or if they don’t know, send them to hell and call them spineless idiots.

      And tell them that if you grow up to be an illiterate uncultured yob, it’ll be their fault. You have my permission. That’s right, start a goddamn revolution in the classroom. That’s what “The Wall” is all about, in case you and your mates haven’t noticed.

  13. Ian says:

    chavsRus, Yanika,

    How old are you?

    • Yanika says:

      I’m in my early twenties.

      Anyway, thanks Daphne for the info. I used to like history back in secondary school, but history used to stop at Jum il-Helsien back in 2003/2004. We did not do much about the Maltese political turmoils that happened afterwards, which is much of a pity.

      • Macduff says:

        That’s the tragedy, isn’t it? No one dares to speak a word about this at school, in books or the visual media. Didn’t Henry Frendo try to produce a documentary about Maltese history post-independence (he even interviewed Peter Carrington) but then he was stopped?

      • H.P. Baxxter says:

        That’s no excuse. In any case, 1987 is too recent to be discussed in history books. That’s current events. My Grajjet Malta, and this was in 1996/1997, also stopped at Jum il-Helsien, and much of the stuff in the three volumes was culled from Andrew Vella’s histiorographic aberration, complete with Gorg Mallia’s anachronistic and nonsensical illustrations.

        Your generation was born with internet and Wikipedia and every tool at your disposal. If you’d only seek knowledge with the same fervour with which you seek nookie (for you do), you could be the Finns of the Mediterranean.

      • Gorg Mallia says:

        With reference to H.P. Baxxter. With all due respect to what is being said in the comment, I am presuming the Grajjiet Malta reference is to JOE Mallia’s illustrations. Getting the name right of a person you’re dissing is the least one can do, I would think.

  14. Riya says:

    Daphne, why not also mention the tortures and murders at police stations and headquarters.

    [Daphne – Because they are not contextual, The context I set covered travel, shopping, the ban on importation of consumer goods and restrictions on use of private boats. This is for the benefit of those who can’t believe that you couldn’t always travel as and when you please, with a credit card, spend as much as you want and buy whatever you please, walking straight through the doors and into your car when you get off the plane. If I didn’t explain this context, readers under the age of 45 would have no idea why this behaviour by a government minister and government backbencher were so abusive and shocking. And they probably still won’t grasp the full scale of it because they have never had to go through customs and be treated like a drugs mule.]

    The brutal beatings by the regime Police with dogs, tear gas and bullets we used to suffer during meetings and silent protests, and frame-ups by Police. Students used to be beaten harshly by Police when protesting for their rights and not given red carpet treatment and receive stipends like today. I don’t blame these young people here, cause when I mention mine and other people’s experiences to people of their age, they tell me I read comics.

    • Joseph A Borg says:

      A quick interlude into Egypt news: Mubarak tugs are spilling into Liberation Square, harassing and mugging protesters…

    • Paul Bonnici says:

      And that is why Karen Grech’s killer was never caught, because Malta did not have professionally trained policemen, the police were Labour thugs in police uniform. They are marginally better now, although the recent death of a man following his escape from police custody is shocking.

  15. Riya says:

    Issa nahseb jerga jqabbad driver Karmenu Vella. Nispera ma jergax ikun il-Bottom.

    • TROY says:

      Il Bottom mil-Gudja? Le, le nahseb qed nitfixkel, ghax ma nafx ghala meta nisma il-kelma Gudja niftakar fil-Bottom.

  16. gb says:

    Reminds me of “rumour” back in the time when the Ghawdex started operating twice-weekly day trips to Syracuse. Passengers “in the know” would buy chocolates/colour TVs, etc and for a few liri, would “obtain” a key to a cabin from certain crew members.

    On arrival in Malta, they would walk through customs empty-handed. The next day , they would board the Ghawdex with their car as it operated the normal Malta-Gozo route, unlock the cabin and load their car up with with all the stuff bought in Sicily.

    [Daphne – The way we lived then. How sad. I wonder if ChavsRUs, spoiled rotten under Fenech Adami and Lawrence Gonzi, is going to ask us what we’ve been drinking to have made up a story like this. Maybe we should tell him what the penalty was for being found with an illegal colour TV: being roughed up and arrested.]

    • Rita Camilleri says:

      oh ChavsRUS, if you wanted a bar of chocolate, you could go the Labour Party Club at St Julian’s and buy it there on the black martket – what irony.

    • bookworm says:

      Forces of the law beware as I’m going to make a confession. In 1983 I travelled to Sicily with grandma and on our way back, she told me to carry a plastic shopper, which I did. She was confident that eight-year-olds wouldn’t be searched by customs officers, until on our arrival I learnt that I had become a cherry mule or rather, after all the kicking the shopper got from my end, we smuggled cherry jam.

  17. Matt B says:

    What was the reason why Mintoff (and his puppet KMB) banned things such as chocolates from entering into Malta, and for businesses not flourishing, unlike their European counterparts at the time (when industry was at a boom)?

    Being born in 1989 (and abroad, for that matter), I luckily have never had to endure these hardships, but all I know from my mother is that the ‘chocolate’ that used to be produced as an “irresistible” mix of worms and God knows what, called ‘dezerta’.

    [Daphne – Mintoff applied to the country the same principles he applied to his own personal life and household: don’t spend, make do, and don’t buy anything you can make yourself. His government applied a harsh ‘import substitution’ policy to cut down on money leaving the country, which effectively meant that if something was made in Malta, then it couldn’t be imported. And if something wasn’t made in Malta, then it still couldn’t be imported unless we really needed it and couldn’t do without it. So, because one company made toothpaste, all toothpaste importation was banned and the entire country had to buy and use the same brand of Malta-made toothpaste. One company made running shoes, so all importation of running shoes was banned and we all wore the same running shoes, like Commie Chinese. Clothes were considered a waste of money, so the government would allow their importation in small quotas and on an irregular basis. Because the quota was per value, not per item, the importer would maximise the number of items he could bring in on a quota of, say, Lm3,000, and so would buy the cheapest of the cheap – and that’s all we had in the shops. Everytime somebody set up a factory in Malta to pack or make something for the domestic market, our hearts would freeze in dread, because we knew that we would be forced to buy only that brand and that all other similar things would be banned from entering the market. That’s the reason chocolates were banned. A Chinese company set up here making a plasticy chocolate substitute called Desserta – in three equally vile flavours, as I recall – so all chocolate and chocolate related products were banned between 1976 and 1987. Colour televisions were considered unnecessary, so they were banned outright. Then Grundig started assembling sets – ahem – here, and you could buy one for Lm450, which to put you in the picture was 15 weeks’ wages. Washing machines were considered a luxury because women’s place was in the home washing clothes, and so they had something like 75% import duty slapped on them. Buying a washing machine, again, ate up 15 weeks’ wages. And on it went. It was beyond hideous.]

    • Anonymous Coward says:

      I was born in 1985 but do realise the damage these cretins did to our country, and were they given the chance to run it again I might just pack my bags and go somewhere sensible.

      I honestly cannot believe that no one in that “political” party has the brains and the balls to speak up and tell Joseph & co. to grow up. Is it too much to ask for a decent opposition party?

    • Hubert Zammit says:

      Daphne, you could have spared all the writing and used just one word……Socialism.

      • Tim Ripard says:

        On the contrary, Hubert, there’s tons more to say, and almost all of it horrendous.

        Cars, for example. As we all know, many Maltese idolise their cars. In those ugly days (I was born in ’59, by the way, so I grew up in lovely Socialist Malta between the ages of 12 and 28) there were severe restrictions on the importation of cars and the very limited quotas resulted in a gap of up to two years between ordering a car and getting it delivered.

        As a result, second-hand cars not only retained their value but often fetched prices ABOVE the original purchase price. When my father wanted to buy a car he was offered a FIAT 127 for around LM1900 – and this was 1979 or 1980, so we’re talking about €15,000 in today’s terms – from a guy who had bought it as an investment and was auctioning it to the highest bidder.

      • Joseph A Borg says:

        That’s a horrible misnomer, Hubert

    • Matt B says:

      Thanks for the info, Daphne. Puts me right in the picture – to say that it was beyond hideous is practically an understatement, it seems.

      Thank goodness that when it comes to voting, I’ll be using my head again and not voting in any people who could possibly put the country back 20 years. Unfortunately though, I highly doubt my one vote will count for much this time.

    • O Ellul Micallef says:

      A good argument for a free market economy.

    • Anthony Farrugia says:

      Cordless telephones: for the life of me I cannot remember why their importation was also prohibited pre-1987.

    • A. Charles says:

      When toothpaste imports were banned because of the toothpaste being packed in Malta, we, dental surgeons, had a field day as we were seeing many patients who had widespread pathologies in their mouths. We agreed that the culprit was the Malta-made toothpaste.

      I was told by a “manufacturer” of this toothpaste (brother of a Labour minister at that time) that they were in such a hurry to put it on the market that they used a packing machine which was previously used to pack tubes of “kunserva”. He started laughing because he said he remembered that they did not have enough time to clean the machine before putting the imported toothpaste into tubes.

      The toothpaste wasn’t made in Malta. It was imported in bulk and packed here.

    • Jelly Bean says:

      I was thrilled when my father finally decided to ‘put down his name’ to buy a Grundig. Now we could watch Star Soccer at 7pm on Saturdays IN COLOUR, munching happily on our Dessertas. We had the ‘dairy milk’, ‘semi-sweet’, and the most horrible ‘tal-banana’.

      However we had to make sure that the window ‘blinds’ were closed when the colour TV was on as we would be seen by some of our neighbours. The neighbours Mintoffjani that used to come in front of our door during a Labour victory shouting obscenities, ‘irriduh, irriduh’ and ‘l-aghar li se jgawdu maghna’.

  18. ThePhoenix says:

    Daphne, you would do wel to remind your readers of the kiosk at the main gate to Valletta, where you could buy a Mars bar for Lm5. Yes, ChavsRUs, Lm5. And people were so desperate for that link with normality that they would sometimes go mad and spend one-sixth of a week’s wages on a single Mars bar.

    That kiosk belonged to Mrs Bondin, mother of John Bondin, the notorious thug and frontman for various cabinet ministers, Il-Fusellu, who was shot dead some years ago. Not content with extorting protection money and bribes for import licences and quotas, he also ran a little blackmarket business of his own, selling chocolates, video recorders, toothpaste, pasta and other normal things that people were crying out for – at extortionate prices like that Lm5 for a Mars bar.

    Il-Fusellu used to have a network of speedboats ferrying the good stuff in summer and depositing it into waiting vans at Mistra or Xemxija. He and his cronies used to drink themselves silly at some bar in St Julian’s and not pay for the drinks but instead threaten anyone stupid enough to object. His gang? L-indjan, Il-Baflu, Il-Pupa, ic-Copajs, Piju l-Hawsla, and the man who is supposed to have killed Raymond Caruana but who most conveniently died before being brought to trial.

    I’m sure that friend Ronnie, he of the pink sjut, used to occasionally join in the fun, given that their lords and protectors were Mintoff, Lorry Sant and Wistin Abela. And then when he lay in his hospital bed, dead already but hooked up to a drip for the television cameras – yes, unbelievable – the ministers all gathered round his bed while a certain notary worked to transfer his property. Why was this dreadful thug so important and so untouchable, and why did half the cabinet go to pay him homage on his deathbed, filmed for television?

    The word at the time among the older generation was that John Bondin was Dom Mintoff’s bastard. So it was no surprise that when Fusellu picked on someone who was actually not afraid to fight back, Louis Bartolo, all Malta held its breath. His send-off was like a state funeral, with the entire cabinet, Labour MPs and lackeys lining the front pews. This for a thug and black marketeer. His grave is very close to the main door of the Addolorata. I make it a point to pass by on the other side, lest I be tempted to spit on it.

    This is what we grew up with. And this is why we need a website like this one to remind people, or to tell them if they never knew, that this is really what used to happen. After 30 years of enforced Opposition, the danger of this happening again is still real and no Joseph Muscat will stop it.

    You have seen already that he considers others’ misfortune and struggles for democracy and human rights to be a business oppportunity. Such is the mark of the man. The Jesuits wasted their time with him, because he is certainly no ‘man for others’.

    • Tim Ripard says:

      Remember when Fusellu made a girl strip completely naked and dance with him at Styx? And everyone there was too scared shitless to even say anything? That’s the ’70s/’80s we remember.

      • TROY says:

        Tim Ripard, I remember that incident very well and I also remember the day when Louis Bartolo shot that lowlife and rid us of Mintoff’s bully (like father like son) once and for all.

      • H.P. Baxxter says:

        Louis Bartolo is a hero, and the only guest ever to talk sense on Xarabank. This was back in December 1997, but I still remember his parting phrase, when that prat “Peppi” asked him for a “kumment tal-ahhar”, expecting the usual inanities. Bartolo’s reply is still engraved in my memory:

        “I wish a happy Christmas to those who keep the scales of justice balanced. The rest, go to bloody hell!”

        Words of wisdom.

  19. ciccio2011 says:

    Just read what Saviour himself had to say about Karmenu Vella only about 2 years ago, in December 2008:


    Now contrast that with how Malta Today reported about Karmenu Vella’s new role on Thursday, 27 January 2011:

    “Karmenu Vella takes up finances in Muscat’s shadow cabinet reshuffle

    …The most important change is that of Karmenu Vella, who replaces Charles Mangion as the shadow finance minister. Vella is considered to be Muscat’s closest aide. The veteran politician and former minister has been tasked with also drafting of the party’s electoral programmes. on economic policy, sustainable development, social policy and home and foreign affairs…

    Karmenu Vella offers a rare combination for Labour. On one hand he represents the new modern look which Muscat is desperately trying to convey, but he is also remembered for his experience as a young minister under Dom Mintoff. He is considered to be a moderate by the electorate.

    Well spoken and highly respected in the tourism sector, Karmenu Vella has been a close aide to Joseph Muscat since his election as party leader in 2008.”

  20. Riya says:

    I am sure Daphne can write a whole newspaper every day about these Labour political stories, and that is why people at Maltastar and the various other Labour satellites fear her. People of our age suffered a lot in those 16 years of Labour governments.

    With regards to the person who mentioned the 1960s, allow me to inform him that it was always Labour who created violence on this island. Dockyard people used to create violence even during thoses days. When I discuss with Labour supporters about violence, they only mention when Labour had the clash with the church and their meetings used to be interrupted by the ringing of church bells. That is not torture, teargas, bullets, murders and frame-ups. Moreover, it was the church who did it not the PN.

  21. Riya says:

    @ThePhoenix. Very well said and explained

    His friends also forced their way into the ITU at St Luke’s Hospital when he was there and beat doctors and nurses who tried to stop them. You failed to mention anolther of his gang, il-Jackson from Valletta.

    When Mrs Bondin’s kiosk was set up at the entrance to the city, the owners of another kiosk which had been there for ages were ordered to move aside.

  22. anthony says:

    The above makes for very interesting reading.

    It clearly illustrates the well known fact that so many of my compatriots are completely ignorant of their country’s history.

    What is so sad is that we are not talking fifteenth century history here but, in reality, contemporary history.

    This sheer and utter ignorance is what the PL takes advantage of.

  23. Victor says:

    I remenber in 1982 or 1983, when I was studying abroad, I read on one of the newspapers the heading: QASSIS AKKUZAT B’DELITT. Yes, those exact words. You know what? He was found with some 200 US dollars in his siutcase while trying to board a plane to Rome, and was held at Luqa airport and prosecuted for this crime. This was Malta under the MLP.

  24. Godfrey A Grima says:

    We were not well off at the time. Before 1987, I only left Malta once – with my uncle for one week in London in 1982. I was 17.

    We bought some chocolate bars at a supermarket. We ate one bar in the supermarket and paid at the counter including the empty wrapper. We did not speak to the cashier. I can still see her in my mind. She raised an eyebrow and asked ‘Maltese?’

    It hit me there and then what a sorry state we were in. And I vowed, if it has anything to do with me, ‘Never Again’. Not for the chocolate, but for more fundamental things which we NOW take for granted. My children are grown up, and as part of their home education we included several of these stories of our pre 1987 lives. Lest we forget.

  25. Observer says:

    Let me remind all young Labour readers. The Mintoffian regime totally prohibited the use of words like Malta and Nation in Maltese and English. This law was taken to such a ridiculous extreme that even a pharmacy in Hamrun had to change its name from National to Nashinal.

    Now in 2011, the Labour Party is systematically pushing aside reporters from the Nationalist media. Labour has no problems with the rest, because even the independent media doesn’t have the political insight to question party decisions like the appointment of Karmenu Vella to write the party programme.

    Probably this is done to protect the Labour leader and his henchmen from further gaffes. Alfred Sant used to do it too. Before the 2003 general election, around 80 journalists and media people had signed a letter of protest against Sant’s decision to refuse to take questions at his press conferences, or to communicate with certain reporters.

    This attitude shows that at root, Labour still does not understand freedom of expression or that democracy goes beyond a vote once every five years.

  26. Pip says:

    What Daphne says here is the undiluted truth. It has no bias, and if anything, it is a mild account of what really went on then.

    If it weren’t for Eddie Fenech Adami’s wise leadership, the chances are that we would still be governed by that regime to this day, just as happened to our neighbours and political cohorts right across North Africa.

    Back then, we just couldn’t see the light at the end of the tunnel.

    Our standard of living would have remained at a level comparable to that of our North African neighbours, happy until very recently to make do with small mercies handed out by the government and bereft of all private initiative.

    Instead of hiding their faces in shame, Joseph Muscat and these relics from our dismal past have the audacity to sing the praises of the old socialist regime and now we have Joe Grima to tell us what a great leader Mintoff was.

    To top it all, besides having to endure a spirited comeback from the old protagonists, we also have to put up with the quasi daily pontification of the then financial minister, Lino Spiteri.

    The Tunisians and Egyptians insist that change has to be complete. They demand that the collaborators of their regimes have to go as well as the main protagonists. Likewise in Malta, the protagonists of the time should do us a favour and get out of politics once and for all.

    It’s been long enough.

  27. maryanne says:

    “To top it all, besides having to endure a spirited comeback from the old protagonists, we also have to put up with the quasi daily pontification of the then financial minister, Lino Spiteri.”

    Totally agree.

  28. anthony says:

    I took my first holiday in Sicily in 1966.

    It took a couple of hours to drive from Catania to Taormina then.

    There was no motorway. There was nothing. They were poor, having not yet recovered from the ravages of the war.

    They told us “voi siete stati fortunati, avete avuto gli Inglesi”.

    After less than fifteen years the tables were turned. We went there looking for toothpaste, chocolate, decent canned food, tea, the lot. At the Catania market, stalls catering specifically for the Maltesi were set up.

    What an embarrassment.

    I wonder whether this is a taste of the future Karmenu Vella has been commissioned to recapture for us.

  29. CPS says:

    @Matt B . I remember very well – The cost of a Grundig colour TV was Lm450 , the remote control (additional luxury) was another Lm50 and to get to the top of the waiting list, you had to another another Lm100 in the way of a bribe.

    • Racketeer says:

      I bought mine – without much trouble or bribes – in 1982 for LM450. When I left Malta later that year I advertised it on The Times and got LM600 for it. I was chuffed.

  30. Tim Ripard says:

    John Dalli (MLP) is my uncle, married to my mother’s youngest sister, Josephine. He was very close to Mintoff and he certainly made a lot of money in construction and catering, no doubt largely as a result of his proximity to ‘Is-Salvatur’.

    However, to say he was ‘huge’ is something of an overstatement. He was always in the shadow of Lorry Sant who was his rival, if not his outright enemy. And the two are no comparison. Yes, John used to enjoy and sometimes flaunt his wealth but he was never a tyrant whose thugs extorted land, money and God knows what else out of other people, as Lorry did. In fact, personally he’s a very nice guy. He just liked to get his snout in the trough – a shortcoming by no means limited to Labourites.

    His door was always open to Labourites and Nationalists alike (unlike Joe ‘jekk int Nazzjonaist thabbatx’ Debono Grech) and I’m under the impression that quite a few Nats used to knock on it back then.

    Although, like you, I was fighting for freedom in those days, attending meetings, taking part in programmes on the PN pirate radio station (Studio Master?) and writing the odd sharply worded letter in The Times, he and his family never let politics stand in the way of good family relations. Blood is thicker than politics.

    John also had large bank loans (easily obtained since the banks were all state-owned and controlled then) which were summarily called in in 1987.

    The ‘Tunny Net Incident’ led to criminal charges being filed and eventually fines. It may have been a slap on the wrist but at least it was something. He and Karmenu had claimed at the time that they were not aware that were required to declare the stuff they had brought in on their yachts to Customs. Coming from a cabinet minister and an MP, that would have been hilarious if it wasn’t so shocking, but that was the MLP all over – they couldn’t care less about the law.

  31. TROY says:

    ASP. It was never airmalta during the Mintoff’s rule, but airlabour.

  32. Alex says:

    I’m with you all the way when it comes to keeping the dark 80s alive in our collective memory, but please, need you resort to hyperbole to make your point? (for instance: “while the people were starving” or “Anyone coming off a plane or the ferry from Sicily was practically strip-searched”). It cheapens your otherwise valid message. I’m old enough to remember 1983, and no one was starving and although I know of people who ran the gauntlet of the dwana with fivers ready at hand, very few were strip-searched.

  33. Spiru says:

    Just one question – after 1987, was there anyone actually brought to justice? The Zejtun thugs? Lorry Sant was absolved of everything if I’m not mistaken, wasn’t he? The bloke who actually killed Nardu Debono? Karin Grech? Raymond Caruana?

  34. Herbie says:

    Anton Buttigieg once said ‘Il Poplu jinsa’. Oh, how right he was.

  35. GiovDeMartino says:

    There is a pharmacy in Hamrun which is still called Nashinal Pharmacy. The Malta Union of Teachers had to change its name to Movement of United Teachers. Bottles of Ilma Zghar ta’ Malta had the word Malta deleted; the Malta Football Association had to call itself Main Football Association – the list is endless.

  36. Muscat says:

    I can understand Dom Mintoff’s logic with the ban of imports the timed water cuts and all the hardships, being a miser and a socialist himself. But I fail to understand the ban on the use “National” and “Malta.”

    Side comment about the Deserta. I remember that at the time we lived off ‘perlini’, sugared ‘cicri’ and on Sundays smuggled Kinder. Haven’t tasted a ‘cicra’ since then.

  37. old age says:

    What has been written about the 70s and the 80s is so true. I experienced them personally and I can vouch that they all true and no exaggerations.

    What has not been written is that during the 60s all the shop shelves although by no means big stores contained all sorts of varieties and choice including chocolates. Even the petroleum division offered choice. Companies like Shell, Esso, BP etc used to sell their products here and some petrol stations opened 24/7.

    Mintoff did his best to control everthing and even tried to control our minds. All was set to bring up a socialist generation. I for one prefer to go to hell than to live in tyranny under those thugs again.

  38. Mark says:

    I have heard so many of these stories before as well as listened to countless experiences by older family members of the tough times and I appreciate and understand that it is impossible to vote for someone who puts you through such hardship.

    I cannot however understand how it is only people with Nationalist backgrounds who seem to think that Malta had it bad in the 80s. Correct me if I’m wrong but the lack of consumer choice was the same for all and not according to political colour (that featured very prominently in other areas).

    Why are Labour supporters of the day seemingly in the dark or not really bothered in hindsight?

    [Daphne – Because they never had anything to start with, Mark, so it made no difference to them when it all went. You see what Mintoff and KMB did was to hand out plots of land and council flats and government jobs with one hand, and with the other hand, remove all the things that made life normal for everyone else.]

    Can’t they see that they live a much more comfortable life? It doesn’t really take much to compare the present with the past for someone who has experienced it first hand…

    [Daphne – Bright people see it, but those who aren’t bright don’t. And there’s nothing that can be done about that. The way they reason is: the plots of land and government jobs they got in the 1970s and 1980s came from Is-Salvatur, but all that has happened over the last 20 years is by their own efforts. Is-Salvatur handed out fish and got worshipped for it; Fenech Adami and Gonzi handed out rods to fish with.]

  39. We are now members of the EU. Is it possible that what happened between 1971 and 1987 can repeat itself? Back then we had no one to turn to. I’m sure that today those crackpot policies of e.g. bulk buying, outright banning of imports or – later – exorbitant duty on anything not manufactured locally etc won’t be allowed.

    I can see the possibility of corruption becoming the order of the day again – but I’m struggling to see how the atrocities of the 70s and 80s can be repeated (e.g. banning any means of communication other Xandir Malta, gratuitous violence, nearly killing off education etc).

    [Daphne – This is the way I see it. The EU cannot protect us against unsound political decisions which lead to unsound approach to the economy. We have Greece – which is pretty much bankrupt – as the most frightening example of that. The Labour Party’s politicians have in the main demonstrated extremely poor judgement on major issues. All you describe was the result of poor judgement, and everything else was, too, including the corruption and violence. I am wary of people who demonstrate poor judgement because if they do it in one area they will do it in another. Having poor judgement behind a desk in an office is one thing, but poor judgement at the level of running a country is another. Closer to our own times, we had the disturbing example of Sant, who still cannot see where he went wrong even with the benefit of hindsight. When I look at the Labour Party figureheads I see nobody capable of good judgement. If I had the merest lingering doubt about Muscat it was decimated when he said what he did about tourism and Tunisia/Egypt. Poor judgement is extremely common and widespread. It is the main reason so many people mess up their personal lives and definitely the reason that so many people vote Labour. Also, people with poor judgement – because our sense of judgement is intricately bound up with our sense of self – are often in denial and seek all manner of ways to persuade themselves and others that they are right. This makes them doubly dangerous and accounts for the fact that they keep digging even when in a hole. People with good judgement, paradoxically, tend to have the ability to say – when they have made a bad decision or thought something out badly – that they were wrong and had better regroup and look at the situation properly.]

  40. TROY says:

    H.P. Baxxter was spot on. Louis Bartolo is a true hero and he was a decent man and a man of few words.

    He hardly knew Fusellu, but when he crossed paths with Louis, little did Dom’s bastard realise that this man had balls of steel.

  41. Riya says:

    Louis Bartolo haqqu monument f’qalb dawk in-nies kollha li jozzu is-sewwa.

    Louis Bartolo vera ma kienx jafu lill-Fusellu u l-kwistjoni kollha bdiet meta darba kien hemm zewg zaghzagh (wiehed minnhom illum avukat) jimpustaw xi leaflets tal-PN gewwa tas-Sliema u lemahom il-Fusellu u taghhom xeba.

    Sar jaf Louis u wara xi zmien iltaqghu fejn kien jghix Louis Bartolo ghax il-Fusellu kien sgassa kamra biex isir il-loghob tal-azzard.

    Il-Fusellu kull ma kellu poter u sahha mill-partit ghax qatt ma kien xi bully ta’ veru u dejjem ghazel in-nies. Pero’ jekk ma tiqaflux kien kattiv.

    Personalment kont f’okazzjonijiet fejn kellu x’jaqsam il-Fusellu u darba minnhom meta kien ikun mal-bullijiet ta’ Danny Cremona hebbew ghal-membri tal-familja tieghi. Fusellu wahdu qatt ma ghamel xejn hlief gheded li jispara jew spara ghal ajru ta’ kiesah li kien.

    Dawn dejjem kienu nies li jaghmlu l-arja bil-kontra, u l-Pulizija ta’ dak iz-zmien flok tiehu passi kontrihom kienet tiddefendihom.

    Dawn kienu kriminali politici. Kellna l-ministri kriminali ahseb u ara dawn x’kienu. Niftakru fl-Indipendenza fuq il-bejt tal-BOV fil-Belt jitfalna l-gebel u l-fliexken. Konna qisna tal-Iraq. Troy qal sew, like father like son. U nieqaf hawn ghax is-sahha li kellu tal-meravilji.

  42. Austin Sammut says:


    I always avoid blogs, because I will have a lot of wasted time (from my work that is).

    But I would like to recount some nasty anecdotes.

    During the Labour days I remember colour televisions being unloaded clandestinely from trucks in Valley Road Birkirkara half way through the night and being quickly loaded onto a line of waiting cars. On one occasion I was at a friend ‘s residence with a colour television when this was raided by the police (I believe it was a Sunday afternoon) in order to confiscate this diabolical contraption. My friend grabbed it and smashed it down the stairs, lest it ended up in the living room of some fat cat. And what about the ban on computers under Labour. Oh my God! I appeal to all our youngsters/new voters: “isimghu minn kliem ix-xjuh li ghaddew minn dan kollu”. I will never forget our medical student colleagues being brutally beaten by police and Labour thugs while being chained to the railings outside Castille – not quite rioting. We could go on and on.

  43. Tristan says:

    Idiots like ChavsRUS have again landed Malta with a corrupt Labour administration. I remember well what has been written above.

    I went through a frame-up, which thank God did not go as planned by the benevolent supporters of the then Lejber regime. They would do anything to shut you up.

  44. Lino Debono says:

    I still remember disembarking from the Tirrenia in Catania port to be greeted by Slcilians with vans full of chocolates and toothpaste to sell to the “Maltesi affamati” as we were known to the Sicilians.

  45. bryan says:

    missing ChavsRus. where has he gone to?

  46. TGTBT says:

    Besides the ‘Tower Tea’, I can also clearly remember ‘Pepsodent toothpaste’, ‘Catch’ and ‘Mini Mint’, ‘Sanga’ and ‘Soldini’ and many others.

    I also clearly remember my dad coming back from a sporting event held in Luxembourg. He had brought with him a digital typewriter and a cordless phone.

    I vividly remember the tension on his face passing customs, and the strictest instructions to us kids not to tell anyone at school that we actually had the phone at home.

    Today I can buy 5 cordless phones from an ironmongery.

    Well, I wonder why ChavsRUs has gone quiet. Has he/she realised that all the people writing on this thread are not drinking anything, and all the comments are similar. Incredible how parents would hide this from their kids, know it is wrong, and still keep them in the dark.

  47. ron says:

    All that has been said is true. However all have missed one important point.

    Today we witness graduates going round in buses to celebrate their success after long years of study.

    I was lucky to be one of those 700 students graduating under Mintoff’s rule. However there were no bus-cades then. When we graduated we were met by Lorry Sant’s thugs who came over to beat us because we dared to chant anti-government slogans during our graduation ceremony.

    Those were Labour’s democratic credentials back then. Young people had so good for so long under the PN that they take life for granted.

  48. Alexander Ball says:

    Were tourists searched for Mars bars as well?

  49. Elephantine memories says:


    First and foremost please DO tell us how old you are. You either have a selective memory or your family fed you a load of bull****

    Let me run you through my family history. I am 45 years old.

    1. Properties confiscated and never compensated financially.

    2. Home raided 3 times to look for contraband TVs and video players under mattresses.

    3. Father had to leave Malta to earn a decent living for his children.

    4. Beaten up outside my church school for standing up for my right to education.

    5. Another family member who chained himself to the railings at the Office of the Prime Minister, in protest at being denied a university education, was beaten up.

    6. Strip searched on arriving in Malta from Sicily twice.

    7. Not to mention myself not going to University because I refused to study Arabic and physics.

    8. Running for my life aged 16 at Tal-Barrani and Rabat mass demos.

    9. Buying Mars bars for Lm1 on the black market as an alternative to maggot-ridden Dezerta.

    10. Shopping from a particular stall at the old Valletta market from where everyone bought contraband chocolates, pasta and decent cheeses and hams.

    11. Paying Lm500 in 1981 for the privilege of having a Grundig colour tv to watch Olympics and the royal wedding.

    12. Cordless phones were illegal.

    13. Home computers also illegal.

    Is that enough, ChavRUS?

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