To the casual visitor, Strait Street, popularly known as Strada Stretta was an irresistible invitation to fly in the face of inhibition and give in to the basest desires. But for local residents, who felt they had to conform to the puritanical expectations of a still stoically Catholic society, it was a different matter altogether.
And here lies the appeal of this book, which consists of a series of interviews with people who lived in Strait Street during its “golden age”. This approach by the author has proved to be a winning formula that has resulted in an immensely captivating text, simply because it was the people and their efforts to reconcile the seemingly irreconcilable, that made Strait Street the entertainment hub it was.
The author’s main job was to gain the trust of those he interviewed and encourage them to relate the details of their daily life. These are not an author’s nostalgic reminiscences of earlier times, and far less are they a romanticised interpretation of recent history. It is the crude rendering of history related by people who actually lived it and, in many cases, it’s the story of an epic battle for survivaL, of people who had to abandon the luxury of an untainted reputation in order to earn a living.
This book is a true example of spoken history becoming official history.
Part of a book review by Joe Azzopardi in Vigilo, the magazine published by Din l-Art Ħelwa, the National Trust of Malta, Mr Azzopardi is editor of Vigilo.
A former PR and marketing practitioner, reporter and night editor at The Times of Malta, George Cini graduated BA (Hons) in Communication Studies and MA in Journalism from the University of Malta. The author lectures in journalism at the University’s Faculty of Media and Knowledge Sciences.