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14 October 2011

Malta the diamond in the Mediterranean.

I have travelled a lot in my 40+ years on this planet, some, especially my Mother, would say too much but whether it was for business, pleasure or out of a desire to "FLEE" I think that I have managed to see just about every country there is. Thankfully in recent years the desire to Flee has subsided, and more and more my travel is more business than pleasure, so when I go somewhere on business and find myself having a wonderful time it's a bit of a shock.
A few weeks ago I went to Malta to do interviews and promote the movie The Devil's Double, I had been to Malta every other week during the filming but had been either on set or in the Hotel, filming days were long and when you are in that kind of situation the film crew and talent become like family, you don't really look too much outside. This time Malta for me was like finding a Diamond in the middle of the sea, I was no longer in the bubble of the film crew, I was in the hands of the Maltese themselves and they were wonderful. From the moment I "checked in" on my Air Malta flight I was treated with the utmost respect and care, not in a forced or fake way but in a truly heartfelt way, and that treatment continued for my whole week in Malta. Now, it may be easy to say, well you are famous etc, but believe me that can be just as much of a hindrance as a help, I am sure that Malta has seen it's fair share of Celebrities (Gladiator among other movies was shot there), it hosts many movies and many of the Maltese people work in the film industry, make up, hair, camera etc, not to mention that all the extras, the schoolgirls and Uday's mother Sajida in the movie are all Maltese actors.  What really struck me was the honest care for my well-being, everyone wanted to make sure that I was okay, I had everything I needed etc but not in a pandering way, in a concerned familial way. I was invited to peoples homes, friends that I had made while in Malta and through Facebook came to see me, and all the time I understood that really I wasn't getting any special treatment, this is how the Maltese are, they care, they care about you no matter what you have in your pocket, who you are, where you come from. I was truly touched by their openness and generosity of spirit. They are the kind of people that if they only had a loaf of bread and saw you hungry on the street would give you half and smile.
Press Conference Malta 2011.
I can't really say enough about them, they gave me a renewed sense of ease in this world, I had become cynical and was truly beginning to believe that the good hearts of this world had been taken over by greed, but thanks to the Maltese people I still hold hope.
I suppose I feel a kinship with the Maltese because of their language which is like a hybrid of Arabic, Italian and I'm not sure what else thrown in, but I can understand at least half of what they say, their alphabet on the other hand is something else. Being in the middle of the Mediterranean as they are they had to have been influenced  by the trade that passed, also they were conquered more than once which accounts for the fact they the are also fluent in English, but up until recent years were made to learn Arabic at school. The Maltese Prime minister was the first in Europe if not the world to support the opposition in Libya and condemn Ghadaffi's regime, even before NATO or the UN, even though Malta sits only a few hundred miles off the coast of Libya and in easy range of missiles if Ghadaffi should decided to send them a few.
 The country is truly beautiful, in the past the Maltese used to live in the center of the country to protect themselves so cities like M'dina were built, it is a walled city with narrow walled streets, there are only doors, those doors lead to courtyards and then houses. Valetta is also very beautiful, actually all of Malta is, if you get a chance really you should visit. A surprise for me was a small little cove on the coast away from the main towns and cities, it was where the film Popeye was shot, it is the little town that they built as a set, it still stands and is a small tourist attraction, very colourful and unexpected.
I would like to thank everyone at Xarabank, Air Malta and the Radisson Blu Hotel for taking such good care of me, I had a wonderful time, made good friends, spent some time with good friends I already had and felt for once in a long time that I belonged.
Thank you Malta.

A very special thanks to the following:
Xarabank Production Team:

Presenter: Peppi Azzopardi
Production Manager: Norman Vella
Producers: Fabian Demicoli, Rebekah Grima, Catherine Aquilina, Claire Preca Taroum, Joe Julian Farrugia, Deborah Azzopardi, Melanie Casha Sammut and PJ Mintoff Vassallo
Video Editors: Olwyn Jo Saliba, Aaron Attard and Mandy Micallef Grimaud
Production Secretary: Katia Desira
+ Director Mark Vassallo and all the camera people and crew of Where's Everybody

TVM News:

Journalist: Keith Demicoli
Head of News: Dr. Natalino Fenech
CEO: Anton Attard
Chairman: Joe Mizzi

KRS Film Distributers
Maltese Police Force

Here is my interview on "Xarabank"