Yesterday was the children's day at Malta carnival and I went across to Valletta on the early ferry to see what was happening. Onslow decided to have a lazy day back at the apartment so I left him to it and wandered off on my own. The way to the ferry along the promenade has loads of booths with people selling excursions, bus tickets, boat trips etc and about every ten paces I get accosted and asked if I want to do something. It is a bit like running a gauntlet of a hundred Big Issue sellers in a ten minute walk. I have learned to keep my head down and just walk fast to avoid them.
I got across to Valletta and walked up the many steps to Palace Square and the children started to arrive. They were truly magnificent, not one of them more than three feet high and beautifully dressed up in costumes. There were hundreds of princesses and queens, lots of flamenco dancers, nurses, and witches. Quite a few children had obviously been to Disney (I have not seen a shop on the island) because Snow White, Minnie Mouse and Tinkerbell were out in force. The boys were brilliant, Superman and Spider Man have costumes with padded muscles on the arms and chests and look rather weird. There were many fine pirates, a particularly vicious one shot me with his gun and then wielded his cutlass at my throat, his little sister was a nurse and stuck a plaster on my hand to make me better. A few Knights of Malta, a particularly dashing naval officer and Dracula were there too. There was a pushchair with what looked a red furry strawberry in it which when I looked closely had a baby's face in the middle - you are obviously never too young for Carnival. There were several double pushchairs with twins in them, a particularly fine pair of Pierrots caught my eye. The entire twelve year old female population of Malta appeared to have decided to attend wearing pyjamas and clutching soft toys. The families were out in force, every Granny on the island was pretending to be David Bailey and every Grandpa was pretending he had never seen her before in his life. It really was a lovely occasion, no drunks, no violence, no litter. Just happy families rejoicing in their young.
One thing that really struck me yesterday was how slim and smart the Maltese are. Yesterday was a festival day and so one would expect them to be in their Sunday best, but even on ordinary days everyone dresses properly. I have been wracking my brain trying to think back and in the three weeks we have so far been here the only fat people I have come across have been either British or German. There are no lardy girls with pushchairs or slovenly youths with builders' bums hanging out of their jeans. Sliema has a KFC, a McDonalds and a Burger King so it cannot just be fast food that is to blame for obesity.
Today we have tickets for the Grandstand for the main Carnival procession so I will report back on that later.