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CLARKSOFF

Stuart White
THE WORLD IN BLACK-N-WHITE


There’s only one item on the HR talent agenda this week and that is clearly the sacking of Jeremy Clarkson as Top Gear presenter after an unbroken run of more than a decade. The announcement came late on Wednesday afternoon in a statement from Lord Hall, the Director General of the BBC, which said: 'It is with great regret that I have told Jeremy Clarkson that the BBC will not be renewing his contract. It is not a decision I have taken lightly. For me a line has been crossed'.

That may be true but it is equally so that Mr. Hall himself has probably crossed a line of his own. Reports in the press show a public sharply divided as to whether the fracas between Clarkson and junior producer Oisin Tymon was of such a serious nature in terms of conduct in the workplace as to tie Hall’s hands, or whether it was nothing more than a storm in a big boy’s teacup. 

Certainly industry insiders have remarked that the incident just gave some senior members of staff at the BBC the ammunition they needed to do what they’ve wanted to do for some time – get rid of the Clarkson thorn in their sides and publicly humiliate him at the same time. Clarkson, you see, is everything the BBC seems not to like – a bloke’s bloke who is far too British, far too macho, not in the least PC and er……white. 

And of course he certainly is all of those things but he is also much more.  It was he who took the very safe and predictable longstanding Top Gear show, once a mere review of cars old and new, assorted automotive products and a bit of auto sport news, grabbed it by the throat and gave it a makeover which transformed it into a show that pushed every  driving boundary that ever existed. Together with co-presenters Richard Hammond and James May, the trio travelled the world in pursuit of the next automotive high. They drove fast cars and skorro-skorros. 

They played football with small hatchbacks and wrecked caravans just for fun. They challenged every other mode of transport and made the car king. Top celebrity names jostled to be the Star in a Reasonably Priced Car and the waiting list to be a standing member of the audience at the show ran into several years. And towering over it all was the massive personality and physical presence of Jeremy Clarkson, a man adored by his fan base all over the world, with over a million signatures on an online petition to reinstate him; a petition that proved to be in vain.

As the news broke of Clarkson’s dismissal, SKY news interviewed a visibly shaken  James May who said “Well, they’ve shot him”, complaining that he had had to  prise the information out of BBC management.  He described his co-presenter as a bit of  k—b (door handle) but someone he liked working with and said he would be considering his options in terms of the show. “The team works in ways that people don’t understand”, was how he summed up their strange bedfellow personality mix.

As it happens, all three of the presenters’ contracts are due to expire next week and it really is hard to imagine how the show could continue without its anchor man. Some names have been bandied around as his successor, including Stephen Fry and Hollywood petrol head Jodie Kidd, but it is hard to see how they could replace JC as part of the Three Motorteers with all their shared history and experiences, not to mention the depth of their collective automotive knowledge.

As to the BBC itself, it’s hard to estimate the potential loss in revenue from the already cancelled shows as well as those still in the pipeline. A figure of 64,000 pounds sterling (P960 million) has been mentioned but that may very well be conservative, given that Top Gear is syndicated and sold all over the world and has a number of lucrative spin-offs such as live shows and appearances by its stars when there is a production break.

And last but not least, whence Oisin Tymon, the lowly co-producer who is the other half of the controversy? True, the BBC has come down firmly on his side with an internal investigation, led by Ken MacQuarrie, Director of BBC Scotland finding that Mr Tymon took himself to hospital after he was subjected to an "unprovoked physical and verbal attack during which he was struck, resulting in swelling and bleeding to his lip….., It lasted "around 30 seconds and was halted by the intervention of a witness," Mr MacQuarrie noted in his report. 

"The verbal abuse was sustained over a longer period" and "contained the strongest expletives and threats to sack" Mr Tymon, who believed he had lost his job. However in the event it is Jeremy Clarkson who has been relieved of his position and whilst the BBC may have closed ranks around Tymon, the show’s legion of fans are likely to want his head on a plate. 

He will be a complete Pariah, much like Ben Collins, former racing driver and erstwhile Stig who broke the cardinal rule of Stig anonymity and outed himself in an autobiography. That all ended in tears and an unpleasant court case which he may have won but it was a Phyrric victory since Messrs. Clarkson, May and Hammond lost no opportunity to bad-mouth him with less than oblique references as often as they could on almost every show and throughout several later series.


As I see it there are no winners here but the BBC will probably prove the biggest loser. They have managed what they never could before by dethroning the king but they have grossly underestimate Clarkson’s incredible popularity and personal fan base. And Clarkson himself, though down, is certainly not out. Talent such as his will always rise to the top and the Beeb’s loss will yet prove SKY or ITV’s gain. After all, another even more famous JC was quite literally crucified and look what happened there.

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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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