People who criticise me for criticising the Nationalist Party say I do so because I’m nostalgic for times when I was influential there. Nothing could be further from the truth. For starters even if I worked for government for many years when the PN ran the show, I never amounted to anything in the party. Secondly and perhaps more relevantly, Adrian Delia’s team tried to recruit me to work there so personal grudges have nothing to do with this.

But I admit to feeling nostalgia for earlier days. Earlier days. I remember the old headquarters with the newish entrance in the middle of the side street. A building secured like a fortress out of fear of violence, fortified and caged in the years when any building sporting a PN flag was open season for sub-machine guns and worse.

I used to visit the building as a teenager to follow proceedings of the party’s general conferences from the balcony. I wasn’t a Councillor. I wasn’t even a party member. So I used to sit upstairs with the press in that narrow hall where the then 600-strong Council used to meet quarterly.

I used to go by bus on the Sunday mornings waiting for Eddie Fenech Adami’s closing speech. It was the time of the big fight over EU membership and I was swept up by the idealism of that cause.

There were two men who manned the reception desk as you came in. From a teenager’s point of view they looked old but they will have been around the age I am now at the time. They had a uniform blue shirt, the sort bus drivers were expected to wear at the time and taxi drivers still do.

They were droopy and a bit dishevelled but courteous and well meaning. They used to answer the phone with a drawl and the greeting “elow, stamperija,” referring to the headquarters of the ruling party by the description of the original function it had when it was first built — a printing press. It was a term of endearment, and affection for a place that in the 1990s bore with pride the fresh wounds of the 1970s and 1980s.

Since I published my post yesterday about what happened outside PN headquarters Tuesday night, Monique Agius, Newsbook reporter, released a video of a PN security guard trying to prevent her from filming what was happening in an open place.

Geplaatst door Monique Agius op Vrijdag 19 juli 2019

The orc blocking the view of other orcs is called Godric Marston, fitting given that he does look like a Harry Potter villain. He’s not some hanger on the PN is stuck with and cannot be rid of. He was recruited for headier stuff than watching the gates. The party put him forward as an election candidate in Marsa. The good people of Marsa knew better than to elect him.

This is the greeting you risk getting if you approach the PN headquarters these days with what these people perceive as hostile intent. I have seen trolls writing on Facebook that if journalists do not want to be treated this way they should “act more ethically”.

Because now it is unethical to film outside party headquarters unless party headquarters ask you to and unless it is to put them in a good light.

I am also informed that in the last hours Newsbook management has joined Times of Malta’s protest with the PN about this behaviour. Bully for them. 

On location at the time there was Yannick Pace working for Malta Today who is also the President of the journalists’ institute, the IĠM. I imagine he too raised the matter in protest and ensured that the colleagues he represents are duly protected. But perhaps my imagination is still optimistic in spite of all that is around me.

I see how journalists need to worry about their safety and their ability to freely do their job in the street outside PN headquarters and I do get nostalgic. I get nostalgic for a time when two old men in a light blue shirt, one of them with a cold tea and the other with a cigarette butt lodged forgotten between unattractive teeth would sullenly look up from their crossword puzzle of yesterday in-Nazzjon and greeted you as you came in with ‘elow, stamperija’.