Rosemary Sutcliff’s father was a naval officer, posted to Malta when she was very young.
I remember little cameos of Malta. I remember branches of an orange tree hanging over a wall. And I remember the people coming and going in the streets. Four kinds of people in particular: priests, who I remember as wearing lace petticoats. You know one’s memory is a little kind of peculiar at that age—I was only about three. Goats, usually with a paper bag hanging out of their mouths, because they ate anything and everything, and used to be milked on the doorstep, which was a great way of spreading Malta fever I believe. Sailors of course, everywhere; and in those days still a great many women wearing the faldetta, which I don’t suppose you would ever see in Malta nowadays, which was a very becoming head-dress.
- Source: BBC Archives, Desert Island Discs; transcripts at http://sutcliff-talk.livejournal.com .
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For those intrigued by Rosemary Sutcliff’s mention of the faldetta, here’s an interesting article on its history. As she suspected, it is now a fashion which has pretty much vanished from customary use.
Thanks for this.
I should have thanked you long ago for this! I do now…