15 August 2018

Brexit's all Greek to me


Like many others (or should that be like everyone in the UK?), the first time I heard the word 'brexit' was sometime before the referendum in June 2016.

At the time, I remember having many conversations bemoaning the fact that Cameron and his colleagues had failed to come up with anything like as punchy a name as brexit for referring to enthusiasm for remaining in the EU.

Nor had their chums in PR and advertising.

Yet 'brexit' has now been in the Oxford English Dictionary since December, 2016 - 6months after the referendum.

On looking into where, when and from whom it came there's an irony about it's use by everyone from David Cameron, Teresa May ("Brexit means brexit"), through those who campaigned vigorously for it like Johnson, Farage, Gove, Duncan Smith, Grayling, etc. etc. etc.

The irony is that the word was not coined by any of them but by someone in favour of remaining in the European Union:

The man who coined ‘Brexit’ first appeared on EURACTIV blog


By Matthew Tempest | EURACTIV.com Jan 10, 2017

The word ‘Brexit’ was coined by EURACTIV, according to the latest edition of the Oxford English Dictionary, way back in 2012, in a blog post by Peter Wilding.

The decision came in an update to the third edition of the dictionary, put together by some 50-60 lexicographers, and was put online last month. It gives the definition of the word as: “the (proposed) withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union, and the political process associated with it”.  
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He wrote about "Brexit" in May 2012, eight months before the then Prime Minister David Cameron had announced he would be holding a referendum.
"Unless a clear view is pushed that Britain must lead in Europe at the very least to achieve the completion of the single market then the portmanteau for Greek euro exit (Grexit) might be followed by another sad word, Brexit," he predicted.

13 August 2018

Why doesn't India produce more fast bowlers?

James Anderson
As James Anderson  (left) said after he and Stuart Broad (right) had skittled India out twice in quick succession in the second Test match at Lords: "We would have bowled out any team under these conditions."

He didn't say that even pace bowlers as old as Broad and me were able to dismiss the best team in the world in next to no time."

One of the things that intrigues me about India's leading position in world cricket is that they've succeeded with some brilliant batsmen and brilliant slow spin bowlers - but with fewer fast bowlers than other national teams,  such as. Australia, the West Indies, England and Pakistan.

During one test match against Pakistan years ago (when England were being trounced by their pace attack), I was having breakfast with two Indian students at the Henley Management College.

I asked them why Pakistan always seemed to have had some seriously good fast bowlers (one of whom has just become President of the country) whereas it was more difficult to come up with a list of famous names of fast bowlers from India.

Both of them were agreed that the reason lay in the difference in the main religions of the two countries: "As Hindus, we're far too laid back to exert all the energy needed to bowl faster than medium pace; but Moslems are more aggressive than us so they're not afraid of taking a long run and bowling as fast as they possibly can."

Blogging again

It's 10 years since I started blogging - at the suggestion of journalist Michael Crick, then of BBC's Newsnight, now at Channel 4 News.

It became such a regular obsession that a selection of my blogs was published in my most recent book, Seen and Heard, after which the rate of posting now blogs dwindled for a variety of reasons. Recently, however, I've been updating (i.e. simplifying) the Atkinson Communications website, from which there is now a link to my blog that will make it easier for visitors to find whatever it is that I'm blogging about.

The main problem at the moment is that, silly season though it may be, political news there's so much depressing political news that there's too much to write about!

19 November 2017

Two depressing sights/sites in Harare

About twenty years ago, I went to Zimbabwe to run a presentation skills course for an American company with branches in almost every country in Africa. One of their managers met me at Harare airport. When he asked "Is this your first time in Africa?", I said "Yes."

"Well just be thankful you've come to Zimbabwe, because they haven't had time to really mess things  up yet. Most of the things you take for granted - like phones that work, banks with cash, buses and cabs more or  less work - unlike in some of the other African countries where we work. That's why we all opt to hold our meetings here whenever we can."

In this 'popular; country, Mugabe and ZANU-PF had already been in power for quite a while, but they'd yet to set about the country's agriculture and currency was reasonably stable. It also had a flourishing tourist industry, with easy access to world famous sights like the Zambezi and Victoria Falls.

But there were two sites which, even then, before there had been any hint of rampant hyperinflation or the hardline dictatorship of Mugabe, there were two buildings in Harare that I found rather depressing and, in retrospect, realise were totally prophetic of what lay in store for Zimbabweans.

Image result for picture of bank of zimbabwe building




The tower block above had just been finished and is still the highest building in town. It was and is the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, standing at 120 metres tall and located (appropriately?) on Rotten Row. Even then, before hyperinflation, the country hardly seemed wealthy enough to spend so much on such a lavish building to house its central bank.

Image result for picture of zanu pf headquarters building in HarareAt the same time, there was another large  building still under construction: the new headquarters of Mugabe's ruling political party, ZANU PF, now completed (left).

What worried me then and worries me now is the way that post-colonial Zimbabwe has been so inextricably linked with Mugabe, the Shona-speaking majority and ZANU-PF.

Who now remembers the Lancaster House negotiations, Joshua Nkomo, ZANU, and the Ndebele-speaking minority?

In the last few days we've been reminded of the massacres around Bulawayo and other horrors committed by Mugabe and his cronies in ZANU-PF (not to mention rigged elections, corrupt politicians and bureaucrats).

A political party may at last have seen the error of its ways and ousted Mr and Mrs Mugabe.

ZANU-PF has fired its leader and his wife, but let's not forget that ZANU-PF is a wealthy political party (see the building above) that's both controlled and benefited from running Mugabe's one party state.

Until the party reforms itself, there's little likelihood of free and fair elections in the country.

15 November 2017

If Mugabe goes, will Dr Sentamu get a new dog-collar?

Back in September 2008, Dr John Sentamu, Archbishop of York, took off his dog collar during an interview with Andrew Marr, and then proceeded to cut it into small pieces to illustrate what Mugabe was doing to the identity of the Zimbabwean people, ending by promising not to wear it again until Mugabe was gone.

Eleven years later, news that time may at last be up for President Mugabe presumably means that the Archbishop of York may be about to start wearing his dog-collar - providing what no happens in Zimbabwe is something rather better than dictatorship by the Mugabes and their cronies in ZANU-PF.

If you've read any of my books or been on any of my courses, you'll know that one type of visual aid that tends to go down very well with audiences is the use of objects or props to make a point.

These two examples show that things as apparently unpromising as cutting a clerical collar up or brushing items of clothing can be very effective.

The first clip shows Dr Sentamu in action in a live TV interview and the second one, Barack Obama (then yet to win the Democrat nomination as their presidential candidate), dismisses criticism from Hillary Clinton's camp by brushing invisible dust from his jacket - and the more he brushed, the more the audience applauded.

You can see both these examples by clicking below - and more on objects as visual aids in my books Lend Me Your Ears: All You Need to Know about Making Speeches and Presentations, London: Vermilion, 2004 & New York: Oxford University Press, 2005, and Speech-making and Presentation Made Easy: Seven Essential Steps to Success, London: Vemilion, 2008.

1 comment:

sal said...
Those of us, of a slightly older vintage, may remember Nikita Kruschev banking the desk at the UN with his shoe.

It turns out that the shoe was a prop for the occasion which he carried into the UN building in his pocket.