So last night I received a threat from the grandmother of the “nice middle-class girl” in the Labour campaign video

Published: February 14, 2016 at 10:31am

Last night at around 11.30pm I received an emailed threat from Carmen Hill tal-Belt, grandmother of Floren Sultana, the ‘nice middle class girl’ in the Labour Party’s most famous general election campaign video, Courage to Vote.

The threat came in via the email address of an Andrea Debono, which is the name of Floren Sultana’s minor half-brother and another of Carmen Hill’s grandchildren. The two have the same mother, Odette Goodlip, but Floren’s father is Mark Sultana and Andrea’s father is Darren Debono, who also features in this article in the Asia Times.

The entire threat was pasted into the email subject line and the main body of the email inadvertently contained Carmen Hill’s email address from which it had been copied originally.

It did not contain the information that the sender is Floren Sultana’s grandmother, but checking through Carmen Hill’s Facebook page – these people post so much information that it’s ridiculous – allowed me to identify her as Odette Goodlip’s mother despite all the different and confusing surnames, and also the mother of Daimer (pronounced Deemer, short for Redeemer) Goodlip, who runs Scoglitti with Darren Debono, with whom his sister Odette lives and has three children.

This also allowed me to positively identify Carmen Hill as the woman who tried to assault me (but was held back) after hurling a slew of insults from across the street outside the Carmelite Church in Balluta Bay, St Julian’s, three years ago during the general election campaign, while I was walking along on the other side of the road. I had just written about the campaign video Courage to Vote, identifying the ‘middle-class girl from a Nationalist family’ as a nail technician who glorified Dom Mintoff when he died a few months previously. Among the yelled insults from the woman in the street, I could make out “Floren taghna”, which is how I worked out the reason for the attempted assault.

That incident is also how I know that Floren is not pronounced as you would imagine it is – as in Florence – but ‘Flor-Enn’ as it would be if you had trouble with the pronunciation (and therefore the spelling) of Flore Anne.

At that time I had no idea that Floren Sultana is from a Valletta family. There wasn’t sufficient information online to be able to piece together the picture, and I had never gone to Scoglitti restaurant (it was just instinct, based on the type of clientele which told me it was a Taghna Lkoll den, and the instinct turned out to be right). But I told the person I was with that night of the attempted assault at Balluta Bay: “That woman is from qiegh il-Belt.” To which the response came: “Don’t jump to conclusions. How would you know? You’ve never seen her before in your life. She’s more likely to be from the Lazy Corner, given where we are.”

But to me it wasn’t a question or a possibility; it was a fact. “Rubbish,” I said. “People from the Lazy Corner don’t sound like that and they don’t fight like that either. People from qiegh il-Belt of that generation have a really particular way of insulting and fighting. It’s different even to the way they do it on the other side of the harbour.” Cue a volley of sarcastic remarks about how it’s impossible to know.

Anyway, I took it as fact that she was from the lower reaches of Valletta. She couldn’t have been more of an archetype from a place and an era. Despite seeing her trying to brawl in Balluta Bay, completely out of context surrounded by waterfront buildings, cafes and genteel passers-by out for their evening stroll, the scene must have triggered residual childhood memories of similar street-and-balcony-displays (my father is from Valletta and my grandparents lived there throughout my childhood, though near the Ministry of Foreign Affairs). My subconscious must have brought the disparate bits of information – accent, voice, species of insult, name+taghna, body language – together in a jiffy without my even being aware of it. It’s fascinating how the mind works in these curious ways, picking up, filing, storing and processing information and details that seem entirely random while we’re not even aware it’s happening.

Anyway, Carmen Hill is now upset because I made a “show bina” (the clannishness is another dead give-away). She’s going to come looking for me, she says, and assault me, if I don’t remove my posts “about us”. I think the way things are going, Carmen Hill had better keep her eyes open closer to home and make sure that her daughter’s companion, Darren Debono, doesn’t get blown up. Two registered fishermen with business connections to Libya have been blown up in their cars already – Martin Cachia a few weeks ago and Darren Degabriele 18 months ago – and what do you know, one of them even had a fish restaurant too.


Carmen Hill

Carmen Hill

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Carmen Hill with her daughter Odette Goodlip (pre breast, cheeks and lips augmentation), who is Floren Sultana's mother

Carmen Hill with her daughter Odette Goodlip (pre breast, cheeks and lips augmentation), who is Floren Sultana’s mother

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Floren Sultana, without hair extensions, make-up and hooker outfit (looks so much better), with her grandmother Carmen Hill

Floren Sultana, without hair extensions, make-up and hooker outfit (looks so much better), with her grandmother Carmen Hill

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valletta house