Some streets are tidy and spotless (minus the chewing gum – those black spots on the asphalt).
Some streets have vomit and garbage flying around.
Some streets have prostitutes on them promising to take you for 20 minutes to heaven (unclear if travel insurance is included).
Some streets have more hair saloons than actual inhabitants on it.
Some streets have more shops selling the exact same products, yet none of them go bust (it’s a miracle!).
But all streets have one thing in common: they carry someone’s name, mainly of someone outstanding or a memorable event.
Not just any Tom, Dick and Harry (any coincidence is unintentional). Unless it’s in the US where most streets or avenues are just plain numbers; or in some parts of South America – some streets are so poor that they’re have no names. Don’t ask how people get/give directions.
Anyway, this refers to those streets that are named after someone.
Why then, my husband and I wondered, is there no law of some sort that automatically changes the street name to whatever its current condition corresponds to?
For example, we were walking on St. George’s street in St. Julian’s in Malta to get to my doctor’s appointment. The street had dry vomit on some corners; smelled of urine and cheesecakes at the same time. It had such a stench of pee overall that, what with the sun directly casting rays on where the puddles must have been, the pavement looked shiny and slippery.
The street has no lamp posts or any communication towers of sorts, yet it’s full of wires hanging from everywhere that you don’t know what their purpose is.
As if RoboCop has shat all over the place.
The street, in other words, is so untidy that St. George, poor thing, is probably tossing in his coffin or wherever his sainthood remains reside.
My husband, in fact, suggested that the street should be called “chicken-pooh street” (he’s a father of two, after all :)).
Malta is a EU country (meaning, it demonstrates a specific level of standard).
It’s been peaceful since WWII.
Ok, with the little political unrest back in the 70s, I believe – but who didn’t go through turbulence back in the 70s.
No rubbles from bombed buildings, no dead baby corps running around, either.
On the other hand, garbage and odour is everywhere – kids’ parks, main streets, in front of the doctor’s office.
In our own backyard, too!!!
I’ve come across so many ‘relics’ since we moved in.
The best one was a single sock.
Why would you throw one of your socks in my garden?
What on earth possessed the person who did that?
And what with the overbuilding and the cranes sticking out with their rusty necks all around the island, it’s only fair to change the street names to something that represents their current state of being.
Until further notice.
And I’d propose that to any other part of the world.
Shitty street = shitty name.
It’s only fair.
Would you want your name to be hanging as a sign on any of the streets in Homs or Misrata as they are now?
Or maybe on any of the lanes on the Red Light District in Amsterdam?
Unless you’re a descendent of la Dame aux camellias or your professional name is Kicki-the-kinky-pants, you might ‘would’.
I got so hooked up on this thought that as soon as we went home, after manoeuvring through piss and litter, I went on my computer to look up exactly who St. George was to help me reflect on why people left the street that carries his name in such an embarrassing state.
And that’s a central (tourist) street, if I may add.
St. George was a Roman soldier.
He refused to abandon his Christian faith at a time when emperor Diocletian decreed that everyone should bow to Roman gods. George, however, offered martyrdom in honour of his Christian faith instead of complying and converting to paganism.
That’s in a nutshell.
And then the dragon story which is worth reading in any history book.
St. George, however, is recognised in most religions, as I gather.
He’s quite the lucky charm to the whole Mediterranean region and is celebrated across the Catholic followers on a grand scale.
The point is that none of this ‘nutshell’ story receives any sort of honourable reciprocation from the street – its inhabitants, mainly.
And wasn’t this same street named in honour of this same person in the first place?
St. George should have added to his last wish – “give all I have to the poor” – something like:
“…and please, for the love of my God, don’t let ‘them’ use my name to call their filthy streets, or to brand their tuna fish cans or something, will ya?”
I wondered why we people don’t think that way – when we are about to throw our chewing gum or cigarette bud, to hold on a second and figure, “hm, maybe I shouldn’t…what’s that street again? Ah, sorry buddy, Monsieur Clemenceau, I should probably…yep, there’s the bin”.
When I was a kid, my teachers, even strangers, have asked me whether I knew who the person was whose name my street had. At some point I learned who he was, quite early in my childhood in fact, because it was really common for adults to pester you with that same question.
The guy – after whom my street was called – was a famous historian, philologist, and one of the founders of my country’s constitution.
He also founded the first academy of sciences and wrote a lot of history books.
He must have read a lot, too.
My street, as I left it back then, was fairly tidy – mainly after the skip in the morning – but with its 40-year-old camomile trees, the rose bushes creeping up the tiny blocks, it kind of qualified for what the person (after whom the street was called) did during his life.
Who knows what state the street is in now.
Does all this matter?
I think it does.
The way we want to be appreciated for what we do.
The way we want to be respected for who we are and not necessarily by hoping that a squeaky clean street will carry our name.
But because we believe in fairness and fight for it, especially, if someone is stepping on our own toes.
And, even if we have nothing to do with St. George or his dragon, heroes, revolutionaries, and saints like him (St. George, not the dragon) make the world a tiny bit better with their developments, achievements and discoveries, and yet, more exciting – with the remaining that needs to be explored, achieved, and discovered by us, by our kids.