About This Book
“Kull min daħak bil-kitbiet tan-Nanna Ġenoveffa, se jogħxa b'dan il-ktieb." Artikoli u taħditiet li jiftħulkom għajnejkom, mill-pinna tal-Kav. John Giordimaina O.S.C.I. Trevor Żahra din id-darba jċedi l-pinna u l-kelma lill-Kavallier John Giordimaina O.S.C.I., karattru li għandu opinjoni dwar ... kollox! Għażeb mimli interessi, President Onorarju tal-Għaqda Dilettanti tal-Arkett, membru fis-Soċjetà tal-Liżar Imqaddes, l-Għaqda Mudelli tal-Knejjes u membru fil-kumitat tal-Akkademja għall-Paċi f'Qiegħ il-Baħar, fl-1995 inħatar Kavallier tal-Ordni ta' San Clement I, kif ukoll kandidat indipendenti fl-elezzjonijiet ġenerali tal-1981 fejn ġab 23 vot. B'C.V. bħal dan, ma jistax jonqos li l-Kavallier jagħti l-opinjoni erudita tiegħu dwar kull suġġett immaġinabbli: miċ-ċensura, saċ-ċelibat, il-veġetarjaniżmu, il-proġett ta' Renzo Piano għal Bieb il-Belt, it-tipjip, l-astinenza, il-mediċina ... u ħafna u ħafna suġġetti oħra. “Dan huwa ktieb li għandu jservi ta’ gwida għal kull politiku ġenwin, kull Nisrani prattikanti, kull ċittadin ġentlom u kull min jaspira għal ħajja edifikanti.” “Bizzilla fl-Injam” Leħen l-Għaqda Dilettanti tal-Arkett Numru 57: Diċembru – Marzu 2012 “F’din il-ġabra ta’ studju, il-Kavallier Giordimaina reġa’ wera kemm ma jibżax juri l-opinjoni tiegħu quddiem kulħadd … dejjem bil-ħsieb li jgħallem lill-injorant u jiftaħ l-eluf ta’ mħuh magħluqa li għandhom jirrenjaw f’dan il-pajjiż.” Il-Fuljett tal-Għaqda Dilettanti tan-Nar Ħarġa tal-Festa – 2012 “Għażiż Kavallier, minn qalbi nifraħlek għal din l-opra ġdida tiegħek. Jalla dal-ktieb jixtered ma’ pajjiżna kollu, jidħol ġo kull dar u forsi xi darba jsib postu fis-sillabi tal-iskejjel tagħna.” - Ittra mingħand persuna mill-aktar rispettabbli, li ma tixtieqx ixxandar isimha “il-pajjiż kollu jinsab imkexkex, mistagħġeb u diżorjentat … għax ma jistax iniżżilha kif il-ktieb-ġawhra tal-magħruf Kavallier John Giordimaina O.S.C.I. ingħata l-ġenb u twarrab ghalkollox mill-ġurija tal-Premju Nazzjonali tal-Ktieb ta’ din is-sena. Tassew li kif dejjem jgħid il-Kavallier: ebda profeta mhu rikonoxxut f’pajjiżu.” Kumment minn “Skantat imnixxef” – Facebook – 3.01.13
An amusing know-all
(Sunday Times of Malta review)
This prolific, inventive and much-loved author has now produced a book supposedly written by Il-Kavalier John Giordmaina, consisting of articles and talks penned by this fictitious author.Giordmaina is a figure whose ideas on a vast range of topics from ‘the humble cigarette’ to ‘censorship’ or the new entrance into Valletta will evoke many readers’ sniggers or exclamations of impatience.Other views, perhaps of a more conservative nature, will be greeted by many as being reasonable, though expressed in an irritatingly pompous and self-satisfied manner.This mixture of narrow-minded views – views excellently portrayed by the actor Michael Tabone in his readings from the book at its launch – and others corresponding to what the acceptable conservative Maltese readily espouse, make the character transcend the level of a satirised buffoon. There are times, however, when Trevor Żahra the humorous writer reaches, and reaches successfully, for the big laugh.This can be seen when he ends Giordmaina’s attack on Renzo Piano’s designs for the new Valletta entrance with the statement, “Belt bla bieb, Parlament bla ruħ u teatru bla saqaf” (A city without a gate, a Parliament without a soul, and a theatre without a roof.) This epigram sounds too elegant for Giordmaina, though it reflects what he has written, and it is the real author who has now clearly taken over from his puppet.
Żahra’s satire is just as biting when Giordmaina shows his utter disapproval of sexual behaviour today, especially among the young. This is true especially when he thunders against many young women’s scanty clothing, citing it as an important cause of ultraliberal sexuality.On this last issue, however, Giordmaina will, I suspect, find many over-60s in agreement with him. Had he insisted mainly on this when he contested the parliamentary election in 1981 he might have received another hundred votes in addition to his wretched 23 …Basing himself on having an uncle who patched up the paint on route buses and painted this or that for the village festa, he considers he has strong artistic genes and sets himself up as an arbiter in the field of art. I, for one, am tempted to agree with his condemnation of most works of conceptual art, but few would go along with him in his statement that since the Renaissance, artists have gone downhill all the way.His insistence on his being chairman of the Malta Society of Amateur Fretwork Artists, which he considers a confirmation of the high view he has of his own artistic standing, is laughable. But here, perhaps, Żahra’s satire is gentler: amateur societies of artisans and artists tend to make some members see themselves in distorting mirrors.Giordmaina, a lifelong cigarette smoker, considers smoking to be a superb remedy for warring spouses to make it up, for chairmen of committees to solve problems, and for artists to concentrate on finer points of their art. He asks why the law imposes the showing of grave health warnings on cigarette packets and does not impose a similar condition, say, on commercial airlines. Many cigarette smokers might be tempted to echo him, but fortunately, legislators are unimpressed.I have touched on just some of the topics broached by Giordmaina/Żahra. I must not close, however, without a word of admiration for Giordmaina/Żahra’s beautiful lists, reading like poetry, for say, the tools and actions of the firework manufacturer. I suspect that Żahra himself shares at least some of Giordmaina’s enthusiasm for fireworks displays.This author’s many admirers will not be disappointed by this work.- Paul Xuereb
Żahra again cleverly makes Giordmaina an ambiguous friend of his. Giordmaina praises him mainly as an author of fiction for the young, but in his piece on censorship he does not mince his deep disapproval of Żahra’s 2008 theatre piece Minn wara ż-Żipp, an uninhibited work written in response to The Vagina Monologues and also Il-Ħajja Sigrieta tan-Nanna Ġenoveffa (also 2008), a novel in which an old woman reminisces about her life, sexuality not excluded. Here, there is no doubt about the author’s satirical intentions. Through Giordmaina, Żahra shows his contempt for all those bigots who would restrict authors and artists in their work to what is not shocking.