His hands were made to weave fishing nets, and he can do this with his eyes closed. Making fishing nets is a skill which is coursing through Gianni Xuereb’s veins. Known as Gianni l- Pipi, today he is over 80, and he still hasn’t stopped working, perhaps because nets are still sought after and in demand by fishermen.
Gianni Xuereb starts his working day in a small garage on the road which leads from Xewkija to Qala,
“I smoke a pipe my friend and my uncle’s name is Gianni. So as not to have both of us answering at the same time when they called the name John, they would always call me Pipi”
In addition to the pipe, Gianni is also widely known for making wicker fishing nets.
Speaking in his Xewkija dialect, Gianni l-Pipi said that he picks up the wicker from valleys. “During the war, I would do this and scrape them”
He inherited the skill from his grandparents. He started working the nets at the age of 12. “If you want to learn you learn because I learned. Isn’t that true?.”
His patience is infinite. “This is my craft. These nets are what i do. I am not a carpenter. I don’t make doors.”
Unlike other traditional crafts, Gianni is sure that his craft won’t die because his children are fishermen. “I have many children. I have 10 in all. But they’re currently fishing for lampuki.”
Although he is 82 years old he still enjoys good health and does not intend stepping down from his trade. “Until I am able, I will always work. Why not? What else would I do?.”
We left Gianni weaving nets with his pipe in his mouth and net in his hands, in anticipation of a day out fishing with his children.