Forty years ago my sister married a “Malteser” so having a wee, out of season, family visit, am writing to you now from Malta. Where, not unlike home, it’s been bucketing down good style. Difference being, the rain is hot!

With a post-Brexit scenario looming, my son also currently in France and my other sister just back from Italy, it got us all thinking about the difference between the Scots and our Continental cousins.

It was suggested unlike us they just don’t do a queue. Me, I think queue skipping is the thin edge of the wedge and have been known to grab folk by the back of their collar and holler, ‘Wait your turn!’ My sister was similarly scandalised at the Amalfi Coast, when after dutifully waiting, found the moment the tour bus doors, hissed open, it was a free for all, and all, with their elbows at the ready.

Of course it’s not always like this, ‘abroad’. I was glad to learn that the Maltese also use a system that I saw in Cuba. Once at the waiting point you call out, ‘Ultimo?” i.e. ‘Who is last?’ Once you’ve clocked them, you can go off to sit on the wall or in the cafe as once the bus comes or the club opens, you just have to find that person to get behind and form the queue.

I asked my sister about similarities with us Scots and the Maltese. She said we both don’t like ‘show offs’.

That got me thinking about the phrase ‘I kent your Faither’. For me it’s a helpful reminder of the importance of community. I’d always be up to high doh in a culture that promotes the, ‘If you’re no’ fast your last’ ethos. If you’ve ever driven in Italy you’ll know what I mean. Indeed what is often referred to as, ‘Tall Poppy Syndrome’ I believe could be seen more as a rallying cry for camaraderie!

Poor wee Malta – it’s smaller than Glasgow – because of it’s whereabouts it has been colonised time and time again.

In fact, in wartimes, it has been used like one big harbour!

The legacy of being colonised by the British is seen in it’s big ex-pat community, with everyone here being able to speak English and it’s red phone and post boxes.

Another aspect of the Maltese we agreed was similar to us Celts is the self deprecating humour. There’s even a dedicated Facebook page here called ‘ Only in Malta’ where Maltese mishaps abound! A lot of the jokes are of the ‘lost in translation’ sort.

The sport footwear shop called Athletes Foot. The pub called The Cornish Arms, with it’s sign of a Pastie with outstretched arms! Or the name of the sweetie shop, instead of being Yum-Yum, it’s called, Yam-Yam because of how it sounds to Maltese ears.

All of which endears me to all things Malta. Most of all though is their open and obvious friendliness, just like us Scots!


Visiting a hot country, it’s not the thought of topping up your tan that makes you smile,

but how easily the washing will dry.