Deep Truth: Of poppycock and cock-lovers


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Poppycock

The word “poppycock” has its origins in a Dutch phrase that was exported to the US by the early immigrants. The phrase in question is “zo fijn als gemalen poppekak” which is taken to mean “to show excessive religious zeal” but literally means “as fine as powdered dollshit“. The “cock” in question is in fact a corruption of a word from the scatological field “kakke” – a word all native Maltese are used to in the form of the childish word “kakka” used to refer to the “doo-doos”. Probably Joseph Muscat was referring to one such word when he was singing his own praises to the joys of fatherhood and engaging in babyspeak with Soleil et Etoile.

No wonder “poppycock” was a word Daphne had not heard used for a while. It’s use was at its most popular in Britain and must have been brought over to Malta by the colonising British. Daphne was glad that an acquaintance of hers used this reference to dollshit to describe the fare in the Sunday papers. In a very humble post (Oh What Blessed Relief from All the Hogwash) Daphne explains to her followers (and amused onlookers) that she was beginning to think that all the articles about Joseph Muscat written for the Sunday Papers were a load of hogwash.

There’s more. It would seem that practically all male columnists commenting on Joseph Muscat are… wait for it… closet homosexuals. Now of course since I fall into this category (male columnist, not closet homosexual – at least not yet – who knows what the liberal immature unmarried in me might try next?) I was curious to see what pushed Daphne’s keyboard to these Lowellian limits of characterisation. It seems that some columnists are guilty of not falling in line with the Daphneite mudslingers and shooting at Joseph Muscat from the second he said “Inhobbkom“.

It reminded me of a line in a play by Tufigno which, to put it briefly went : “Bizzejjed, int pufta!” (Shut up, you are gay). Now apart from the fact that I don’t give two hoots about the sexual orientation of whoever is writing, this whole JM business is getting to be yawningly predictable. What many people are saying – including the nationalist Michael Falzon, is not – as the Daphneites would have it – that JM is a messiah and that he should have his slate wiped clean. Far from that.

What they are saying is that the schoolgirl attitude of shooting for the sake of shooting does not help anyone. Nobody is stupid enough to accept marketing ploys, ridiculous slogans or shaky off the cuff anthropological assessments for that matter. JM is a public politician. People are waiting and judging on his performance as he acts not as he was known. The Daphneites would love to have a lamb already slaughtered because as was clear during the elections the current status quo pays them. They’d rather have the weak labour anyday so that come election time we will have another walkover – another labour that is unelectable, another third party that suffers the latest “Wasted Vote” argument and here we go again – MediocrityPN becomes SuperMarioBrothers Save Malta from impending labour disaster.

Which is not what rational thinkers want. Rational thinkers who do not worry about the marriage status or sexual orientation (as wildly imaginative as can be) of their interlocutor want to see stronger labour, stronger pn and in some cases a strong third party that gives MLPN a run for their money. The early potshots of dollshit are just a mere distraction by what has become a circus of afficionados of the mudslinging, youtube viewing and funny picture sharing that is reminescent of the activity that used to go on under schooldesks between naughty, naughty schoolboys. If it’s their taste… good enough. But, as they like to put it, make no mistake – the substantial mass of poppycock writers are not amused and methinks neither are the intelligent minority of the readers.

And then there was Mark

Which brings me to Mark Anthony Falzon. I was lucky enough that Mark, an old colleague of mine, managed to find time to meet me for a long coffee at the St. James’ cafè while I was in Malta. It was inevitable that we would discuss, among other things, Joseph Muscat and his new role as pantomeister and Labour leader. We both shared notes about our respective articles for the next Sunday. One thing I like about Mark (in a very egoistic way) is that we do not differ much when it comes to viewing Malta’s political landscape. We both noticed that we would be tackling the same issues (inevitably) – the corniness of Muscat’s delivery, the all too candid smiling, the miming of the hymn etc etc. We both agreed that the man is far from being sellable imagewise.

Then comes the interesting part. Mark told me that since he is off for two weeks he actually sent in two installments – yesterday’s and next weeks. Given that Times articles cannot exceed 900 words he split his contribution into two. In fact, Mark’s article on Sunday ends with this note:

Next week: Why bad rhetoric alone does not a man unmake, and why I think Joseph Muscat is a decent proposal for both the Labour Party and the country.

Of course, when Daphne (quoting for the Daphneites) quoted the article this piece was omitted. It’s quite telling, because without wanting to go into detail I noticed that the full article by Mark is quite similar to what many well-read male (and some female) columnists are trying to say. Basically it is true – everyone was all out criticising the man’s style, the man’s kitschness and superficiality.

 What everyone bar the “dollshit accusers” also said was that the nation should wait and see for any signs of the promised change. Why? First of all there is nothing to lose in the first years at least. Secondly, mudslinging and name throwing will only serve to aggravate and retrench the battle lines of old and we know what kind of political drivvel that produces – at shit levels we are talking pachyderm and not taurean or doll.

As for the homosexual innuendos (and other sort of social labels – like unmarried, single, childless etc) they will be shelved along with all the rest. More of the same that continues to dilute any possible remaining message that might be trying to wrestle its way from that corner of the debate. It’s a pity that once you eliminate the poppycock slur and accusations of cock-loving homosexuality little of essence is left.

As I once said of Norman Lowell and his weird ideas, as I still think of Joseph Muscat, of Lawrence Gonzi and of Arnold Cassola …. in each and every case the people (and the readers) will be the ultimate judge.

All the rest is poppycock.

4 responses to “Deep Truth: Of poppycock and cock-lovers

  1. Caro Avv. Zammit,

    Purtroppo in tutta questa storia Lei sottovaluta tre fattori cardinali:

    1) la vendetta personale
    2) l’antipatia senza limiti e senza logica (si puo’ ragionare con l’antipatia?)
    3) il fatto che a Malta si gioca in un campo molto, ma molto ristretto.

    Dico questo non per giustificare l’atteggiamento della scrittrice ma per mettere la vicenda nel suo contesto reale. Quando si parla di politica, si parla anche di persone e di destini incrociati.

    Sigmund
    (in versione La Repubblica)

  2. So Michael Falzon (PN) who wrote about Joseph Muscat and was fairly objective secretly fancies the pants off Joseph Muscat? And Bocca who wrote something to the effect of “let’s wait and see” has also been laid low by the charms of a Labour leader who flicks a rainbow-coloured tie in his direction? Can’t imagine how these undercurrents of lust passed me by? Politics in Malta gets more and more ridiculous as we learn that the only reason that journalists aren’t laying into JM is because they fancy him rotten and not because it’s been just 2 weeks since he was elected and hasn’t done anything substantial we can criticise or praise. Lawrence Gonzi, JPO, the PN government….on the other hand….they’ve been around for ages. Why no criticism there? There must be another journalistic cohort which is rendered speechless by underperforming (politically) men

  3. danny attard

    Two quick reflections: talking of nappies etc brings to mind a Napoleonic maxim: “”Never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake.” Well, if labour were making a mistake when electing Muscat, his opponents were certainly…

    With Sigmund’s reflection surfaces an Arnold’s (of the Schwarzenegger line🙂 quip: Everybody pities the weak; jealousy you have to earn.”

    Muscat’s road is long and winding and slippery. Yet I feel that his heart may be in the right place. I see two types of pauses: the strategic pause (ok we wish to blow him out of the water but that will do our credibility no good, so let us pretend we are giving the man some time before we kiss him to smithereens) or the connoisseur’s pause.

  4. Pingback: The Last of the Poppycock Writers « j’accuse

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