When I woke up this morning I knew I was in for a rough week, but I was not aware how tough it was really going to be. An email from my MaltaMedia colleagues at lunchtime informed me that my former boss at Xandir Malta had just had a fatal heart attack while at Broadcasting House in Gwardamangia where he had spent most of his life.
Charles Arrigo is one name everybody in Malta knew before I was born and has known since. I'm sure that people will be saying that his passing marks the end of an era. The man deserves every eulogy he gets. Broadcasting and culture in Malta would have been very very different without Charles Arrigo in the last 60 years.
You should not be too surprised to learn that I knew a very different Charles than the one the public knew for so many years. A casual Charles Arrigo, a candid Charles who started out as my supervisor when I worked for the state-run radio and television company and ended up being a friend with whom I shared my youthful vision of the way broadcasting should run in Malta, in those hazy lazy days before deregulation. Few people knew about our private friendship, which manifested itself over long dinners filled with passionate conversations about our craft and nights out to the theatre cracking jokes over fellow thespians.
I trusted him not only because he was someone I looked up to at the beginning of my career but also because he gave me my first real radio break some 20 years ago. I spent as much time with him as I could in my early years as a professional broadcaster; learning all the unofficial tricks of the trade. From him I also learned how to avoid making waves while sticking to your guns. We didn't always see eye to eye, but he still gave me more than enough rope to hang myself with. When I quit my job with Xandir Malta in 1991 I bit off that cord, but I never felt bad about it because I knew it was time for me to move on. We could never achieve what we really wanted together. I was too young and he was too old.
Our last conversation was in 1994 before I left Malta for good. We didn't talk about that. Our mutual respect remained but I have a feeling we were both slightly disappointed in each other. That's a story for another day and time. It's not appropriate now.
Rest in peace old friend. You will be missed but never forgotten.