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Stuart White
THE WORLD IN BLACK-N-WHITE

“WANTED – MOTORING BBC TELEVISION PROGRAMME PRESENTER.  Must have nerves of steel, exceptional driving skills and be prepared to travel extensively. Sense of humour essential”.

Of course it hasn’t happened yet and it may not, but there’s no sense in not being prepared.  I refer, as I’m sure you’ve guessed, to the shock suspension and possible dismissal of Top Gear presenter and front man Jeremy Clarkson, he of the crumpled face, crumpled jeans, big head and bigger height.  He’s a media personality with a capital ‘P’, instantly recognisable all over the world, so popular is his signature Top Gear show. 

He’s even motored across our own Kalahari with his faithful companions Richard Hammond and James May, a journey which included a chance encounter with the nation’s President Ian Khama Seretse Khama whilst he was Vice-President and very much of an action man and adventure-seeker in his own right. 

In the course of the programme’s long history JC has driven some of the world’s most-expensive cars and most prestigious marques.  Him and his team have driven to the North Pole and found what they believe to be the true source of the Nile. 

They have raced and off-roaded wherever vehicular transport and sports exist and in places where they don’t.  They have pushed cars to their absolute limits and pitted themselves against all forms of transport to prove that the car is king.  They are the ultimate petrol heads and Jeremy is Petrol Head Supreme.

He is also an outspoken, inveterate foot-in-mouther, in petrol-head parlance he never engages brain before operating mouth.  He says what he thinks and what he thinks is often controversial as well as acidly amusing.  He is also the ultimate in non-glad suffering of fools and he is never far from controversy. 

Did he actually say the ‘N’ word when reciting Eeny Meeny Miny Mo?  Hard to tell, say those who have micro-examined the taped footage.  Did he really set out to cause an Argy-Bargy with that controversial number plate on the Top Gear trip to Argentina which appeared to reference the Falklands War?  Impossible, say other car experts.  Where would he find just the right vehicle with just the right registration plate?  Where indeed?

And yet the more he appears in court controversy and pushes the non-PC envelope, the more he is loved by his legion of fans all over the world.  An online petition to re-instate him has already gathered half a million signatures and is still growing exponentially.  

Even the British Prime Minister David Cameron has waded into the row with the BBC, saying “He’s a huge talent. Because he is such a huge talent and he amuses and entertains so many people, including my children, who’d be heartbroken if Top Gear was taken off air, I hope this can be sorted out.” 

A huge talent, indeed. So big, in fact, you’d have thought he was untouchable.  After all, previous transgressions have only shown how Teflon-like he is where trouble is concerned and how, Prince Philip like, he gets away with blue murder because he is who he is and he is so well-loved and admired.

So what was the storm in the BBC teacup which has precipitated the suspension of one of its undoubted stars?  Well, according to reports in today’s papers it was all over a piece of steak, or to be more precise the lack thereof, whereby after a hard day’s filming JC wanted a hearty piece of rare meat for his supper but the crew arrived too late, the hotel chef had knocked off and all he was offered was a cold meat platter. 

That apparently so infuriated him that a minor row erupted between him and an Assistant Producer Oisin Tymon, during which a scuffle ensued and the air turned blue with foul language.  Early reports referred to JC throwing a punch at the afore-mentioned Tymon, though an onlooker described it more as a ‘scuffle’. Clarkson himself referred to is as ‘handbags and pushing’ while fellow presenter May called it ‘a bit of a dust-up’. 

By all accounts Clarkson and Tymon have always enjoyed a cordial relationship and significantly the latter has not made any sort of official complaint. But the knives appear to be out at the Beeb, the sharpest one wielded by Director of Television Danny Cohen who seems hell-bent on ousting JC at all costs, though owing to his superstar status the Director General of the BBC, Lord Hall, has stated that he will personally oversee the investigation into the incident. 



And make no mistake, letting Jeremy Clarkson go would come not ‘at any cost’ but one almost invaluable in terms of programme revenues from its worldwide syndication.  Because without him it is hard to see how Top Gear could possibly continue.  Much of its success depends on the undoubted chemistry between the three presenters and their three very different but complimentary personalities. 

And all three of them, though handsomely rewarded, do go above and beyond the call of duty, spending long months away from home and family, often in hardship conditions which could not be tolerated if it were not for their undoubted camaraderie. 

And as any HR expert will tell you, success is always the result of two different factors – talent, yes, and JC has this in spades but also in sheer hard work, in putting in long hours under arduous working conditions and in doing it year after year seeking ever more dangerous and difficult challenges at an age when others might be thinking of starting to take more of a back seat, rather than, literally, staying very much in the driving seat.

So the world of petrol heads wait with baited breath to see if JC can non-stick his way out of the latest furore or whether he faces his own ‘Night of the Long Knives’ but make no mistake, if he goes, Top Gear goes with him and probably James May and Richard Hammond too. 

But not for long – I’m betting that in the boardrooms of the ITV channels executives are, as I write, calculating how big a package they can offer him and his mates and how quickly they can get the show, or as close to it as they can get away with, back on air if push should come to him being shoved. The King is Dead, Long Live the King!

STUART WHITE is the Managing Director of HRMC and they can be reached on 395 1640 or at www.hrmc.co.bw

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The Daring Dozen at Bari

8th December 2020
JEFF---Batswana-smoke-unit

Seventy-seven years ago, on the evening of December 2, 1943, the Germans launched a surprise air raid on allied shipping in the Italian port of Bari, which was then the key supply centre for the British 8th army’s advance in Italy.

The attack was spearheaded by 105 Junkers JU88 bombers under the overall command of the infamous Air Marshal Wolfram von Richthofen (who had initially achieved international notoriety during the Spanish Civil War for his aerial bombardment of Guernica). In a little over an hour the German aircraft succeeded in sinking 28 transport and cargo ships, while further inflicting massive damage to the harbour’s facilities, resulting in the port being effectively put out of action for two months.

Over two thousand ground personnel were killed during the raid, with the release of a secret supply of mustard gas aboard one of the destroyed ships contributing to the death toll, as well as subsequent military and civilian casualties. The extent of the later is a controversy due to the fact that the American and British governments subsequently covered up the presence of the gas for decades.

At least five Batswana were killed and seven critically wounded during the raid, with one of the wounded being miraculously rescued floating unconscious out to sea with a head wound. He had been given up for dead when he returned to his unit fourteen days later. The fatalities and casualties all occurred when the enemy hit an ammunition ship adjacent to where 24 Batswana members of the African Pioneer Corps (APC) 1979 Smoke Company where posted.

Thereafter, the dozen surviving members of the unit distinguished themselves for their efficiency in putting up and maintaining smokescreens in their sector, which was credited with saving additional shipping. For his personal heroism in rallying his men following the initial explosions Company Corporal Chitu Bakombi was awarded the British Empire Medal, while his superior officer, Lieutenant N.F. Moor was later given an M.B.E.

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A Strong Marriage Bond Needs Two

8th December 2020

Remember: bricks and cement are used to build a house, but mutual love, respect and companionship are used to build a HOME. And amongst His signs is this: He creates for you mates out of your own kind, so that you may find contentment (Sukoon) with them, and He engenders love and tenderness between you; in this behold, there are signs (messages) indeed for people who reflect and think (Quran 30:21).

This verse talks about contentment; this implies companionship, of their being together, sharing together, supporting one another and creating a home of peace. This verse also talks about love between them; this love is both physical and emotional. For love to exist it must be built on the foundation of a mutually supportive relationship guided by respect and tenderness. As the Quran says; ‘they are like garments for you, and you are garments for them (Quran 2:187)’. That means spouses should provide each other with comfort, intimacy and protection just as clothing protects, warms and dignifies the body.

In Islam marriage is considered an ‘ibaadah’, (an act of pleasing Allah) because it is about a commitment made to each other, that is built on mutual love, interdependence, integrity, trust, respect, companionship and harmony towards each other. It is about building of a home on an Islamic foundation in which peace and tranquillity reigns wherein your offspring are raised in an atmosphere conducive to a moral and upright upbringing so that when we all stand before Him (Allah) on that Promised Day, He will be pleased with them all.

Most marriages start out with great hopes and rosy dreams; spouses are truly committed to making their marriages work. However, as the pressures of life mount, many marriages change over time and it is quite common for some of them to run into problems and start to flounder as the reality of living with a spouse that does not meet with one’s pre-conceived ‘expectations’. However, with hard work and dedication, couples can keep their marriages strong and enjoyable. How is it done? What does it take to create a long-lasting, satisfying marriage?

Below are some of the points that have been taken from a marriage guidance article I read recently and adapted for this purposes.

POSITIVITY
Spouses should have far more positive than negative interactions. If there is too much negativity — criticizing, demanding, name-calling, holding grudges, etc. — the relationship will suffer. However, if there is never any negativity, it probably means that frustrations and grievances are not getting ‘air time’ and unresolved tension is accumulating inside one or both partners waiting to ‘explode’ one day.

“Let not some men among you laugh at others: it may be that the (latter) are better than the (former): nor let some women laugh at others: it may be that the (latter) are better than the (former): nor defame nor be sarcastic to each other, nor call each other by (offensive) nicknames.” (49:11)

We all have our individual faults though we may not see them nor want to admit to them but we will easily identify them in others. The key is balance between the two extremes and being supportive of one another. To foster positivity in a marriage that help make them stable and happy, being affectionate, truly listening to each other, taking joy in each other’s achievements and being playful are just a few examples of positive interactions.
Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “The believers who show the most perfect faith are those who have the best character and the best of you are those who are best to their wives”

UNDERSTANDING

Another characteristic of happy marriages is empathy; understanding your spouses’ perspective by putting oneself in his or her shoes. By showing that understanding and identifying with your spouse is important for relationship satisfaction. Spouses are more likely to feel good about their marriage and if their partner expresses empathy towards them. Husbands and wives are more content in their relationships when they feel that their partners understand their thoughts and feelings.

Successful married couples grow with each other; it simply isn’t wise to put any person in charge of your happiness. You must be happy with yourself before anyone else can be.  You are responsible for your actions, your attitudes and your happiness. Your spouse just enhances those things in your life. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “Treat your women well and be kind to them for they are your partners and committed helpers.”

COMMITMENT

Successful marriages involve both spouses’ commitment to the relationship. The married couple should learn the art of compromise and this usually takes years. The largest parts of compromise are openness to the other’s point of view and good communication when differences arise.

When two people are truly dedicated to making their marriage work, despite the unavoidable challenges and obstacles that come, they are much more likely to have a relationship that lasts. Husbands and wives who only focus on themselves and their own desires are not as likely to find joy and satisfaction in their relationships.

ACCEPTANCE

Another basic need in a relationship is each partner wants to feel valued and respected. When people feel that their spouses truly accept them for who they are, they are usually more secure and confident in their relationships. Often, there is conflict in marriage because partners cannot accept the individual preferences of their spouses and try to demand change from one another. When one person tries to force change from another, he or she is usually met with resistance.

However, change is much more likely to occur when spouses respect differences and accept each other unconditionally. Basic acceptance is vital to a happy marriage. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “It is the generous (in character) who is good to women, and it is the wicked who insults them.”
“Overlook (any human faults) with gracious forgiveness.” (Quran 15:85)

COMPASSION, MUTUAL LOVE AND RESPECT

Other important components of successful marriages are love, compassion and respect for each other. The fact is, as time passes and life becomes increasingly complicated, the marriage is often stressed and suffers as a result. A happy and successful marriage is based on equality. When one or the other dominates strongly, intimacy is replaced by fear of displeasing.

It is all too easy for spouses to lose touch with each other and neglect the love and romance that once came so easily. It is vital that husbands and wives continue to cultivate love and respect for each other throughout their lives. If they do, it is highly likely that their relationships will remain happy and satisfying. Move beyond the fantasy and unrealistic expectations and realize that marriage is about making a conscious choice to love and care for your spouse-even when you do not feel like it.

Seldom can one love someone for whom we have no respect. This also means that we have to learn to overlook and forgive the mistakes of one’s partner. In other words write the good about your partner in stone and the bad in dust, so that when the wind comes it blows away the bad and only the good remains.

Paramount of all, marriage must be based on the teachings of the Noble Qur’an and the teachings and guidance of our Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). To grow spiritually in your marriage requires that you learn to be less selfish and more loving, even during times of conflict. A marriage needs love, support, tolerance, honesty, respect, humility, realistic expectations and a sense of humour to be successful.

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Chronic Joblessness: How to Help Curtail it

30th November 2020
Motswana woman

The past week or two has been a mixed grill of briefs in so far as the national employment picture is concerned. BDC just injected a further P64 million in Kromberg & Schubert, the automotive cable manufacturer and exporter, to help keep it afloat in the face of the COVID-19-engendered global economic apocalypse. The financial lifeline, which follows an earlier P36 million way back in 2017, hopefully guarantees the jobs of 2500, maybe for another year or two.

It was also reported that a bulb manufacturing company, which is two years old and is youth-led, is making waves in Selibe Phikwe. Called Bulb Word, it is the only bulb manufacturing operation in Botswana and employs 60 people. The figure is not insignificant in a town that had 5000 jobs offloaded in one fell swoop when BCL closed shop in 2016 under seemingly contrived circumstances, so that as I write, two or three buyers have submitted bids to acquire and exhume it from its stage-managed grave.

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