I love summer and I love hot weather. I think I must be part lizard, because I bask in the sun whenever I’m on holiday or on a writing break. So, for me, perfection means loads of lovely sunshine, one of the reasons I’ve long hankered after a summer in Malta, where I was brought up for several years.
Will I ever achieve it? I have my doubts… but, just in case, I do have a plan.
It’s possible for me to stay in Malta for up to two months without a residency permit and several months more if the permit’s forthcoming. According to what happens on that front, I’d rent an apartment or house in or around Sliema – maybe Ta’ Xbiex, where we once lived, Sliema itself, Tigné or St Julians. As this perfect summer is, at present, imaginary, I might as well select a beautiful property built of honey-coloured Maltese limestone. It would have a balcony or roof terrace where I can write or watch the boats on the bright blue Mediterranean. The property better have a couple of extra bedrooms, as I’m pretty certain I could expect visits from my Malta-loving family.
I love my job so wouldn’t stop writing, in my perfect summer, but I’d find plenty of time to enjoy the island. I’m interested in the history of Malta, especially the second half of the twentieth century, when my parents, my two brothers and myself, spent around eighteen months living in Tigné Barracks and, later, three years spread between Naxxar, Ta’ Xbiex and Floriana. I’ve already spent many happy hours in the National War Museum, the Lascaris War Rooms and the NATO Tunnels, but there are plenty of other sites of interest due a visit, such as the Malta Maritime Museum and Fort St Angelo. Maybe I could make my trip coincide with a reunion for service kids.
Summers in Malta are long and hot. Outdoor dining is entirely the thing, and I’ll be the one sitting in the sun (slathered in factor fifty), eating arancini (rice balls with ragu or cheese in the centre) or pastizzi (puffs of pastry filled with ricotta cheese) and drinking the local Cisk beer. I’ll have my laptop in my backpack and take it out after lunch to write for a couple of hours. I have a shade that goes around my screen to make this possible. Piano music playing through my earbuds fades out the hustle and bustle around me, but one of the joys of my job is that I can work anywhere. Later, I’ll probably shut up my laptop and wander off past the shops selling lace or brightly coloured summer clothes to buy an ice-cream, which the Maltese do just as well as their neighbours, the Italians, before settling back to work.
Dusk comes early, and I’ll round the day off with dinner on my terrace, reading, and gazing out over the lights from the coast road scribbling their reflections on the shiny black sea.
Perfect. Or, in Maltese, perfetta.