Classic music radio demise leaves huge gap

I started listening to classical music in high school. I would borrow classical music records from the library in those days located on the road in front of the beach in Fish Hoek. I had heard classical music was something special but it remained closed to me until I started listening to it in a deliberate way.

At home my parents mainly listened to jazz. My father was a double-bass player and singer and had formed a band. I still remember the records he would play: Dizzy Gillespie, Dave Brubeck, Nat King Cole, Louis Armstrong and others. These roots had a positive influence on my musical taste much later in life.

So classical music was something foreign to me. I enjoyed some of the Mozart piano pieces but not much else. Then something happened in the heavy rock music world. Bands like Emerson Lake and Palmer were taking Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition and turning into rock (and unbelieveably with lyrics).

After this classical music clicked with me. I began to appreciate the beauty of classical music and the variety. Dvo?ák, Bach, Beethoven, Mozart, Ronald Binge, Malcolm Arnold, etc.

The introduction of Classic FM radio on 1 September 1997 opened classic music to me on a scale I hadn’t known before. Here was a radio station where you could listen to hours of classic music for free in the car and at home. I, of course, bought CDs of the music and composers that I enjoyed.

Over time I got used to Classic FM as wonderful background music at home while I worked on projects and painted watercolours. I enjoy some pop music played by the other radio stations but after a while it gets sickly sweet and I have to turn it off. I got rid of the talk radio stations from my life which were no more than chewing gum for the mind.

Then came the sad day when Classic FM had to shut its doors. We heard that wrong business decisions were made. Others put it down to lack of an aggressive sale and other problems. Outsiders can only guess at what went wrong.

Gone forever. It felt like loyal classic music radio listeners gained over years and years were abandoned. For some people the feeling was that it was jettisoned too easily. The fatalists merely attributed it to a long decline in radio for intelligent radio listeners.

Some felt it was a pity that radio listeners were not approached on how they could have helped them keep the station alive. Others said they would have paid an annual subscription fee (even if some listeners wouldn’t want to pay) to keep the classic music programmes running. We don’t know the business models of radio stations but some weren’t convinced that all options had been explored.

A wave of sadness swept over me the first Saturday morning after Classic FM had closed down when I thought of how in the afternoons while I was working I heard the uplifting Theme from a Summer Place by Percy Faith.

It was goodbye to all of that and goodbye to some warm, seasoned presenters. Peter Thierre, Mike Mills, Kutlwano Masote, Shireen Hollier, Caroline Steyn and Richard Kock and those polished news readers Deano Maduramuthu and Anne Williams.

I can’t go back to the past and borrow classical music records from the library anymore but there are other ways of listening to classical music. It’s enjoyable to listen to your own selections. But it’s never going to be the same again without those presenters’ voices. Switching on Classic FM radio early in the mornings and letting it play the whole day and late into the night was a pleasure (and luxury) that came around once in a lifetime and now it is gone.

What your boss will wish you knew after a disruptive incident …

Business Continuity Awareness Week 2021: 17th – 21st May has come and gone. 

An important decision to make in business continuity is the quality of the advice you engage.

Independent business continuity advisors provide many benefits.

They help with specialist advice. Their in-depth experience with past projects and specialised education provides peace of mind.

At any time, the independent specialist can call in associates to assist if the scope of the project increases.

An independent view helps you cut through the clutter and get to the risks and impacts that matter. 

The experienced consultant is unafraid to tell you like it is and come up with an independent assessment. 

Engage an independent business continuity consultant to develop continuity strategy, business continuity plans (BCPs), test BCPs, give employee training or implement mock recovery scenarios and disaster drills.

Why not consider having a chat to an independent business continuity consultant or advisor to get the ball rolling?

The clock is ticking … a disruptive incident could come out of the blue at any time.


Essays from the underground – Revisiting The Stranger

A dark wind rises for some time in Meursault’s life, leading to his ultimate fate. Since I read The Stranger in my late teens, the relentless machinery of society and justice continues to keep the dark wind blowing. This wind has blown in the absurd notion of democracy under the guise of elite minorities whose rule is accompanied by pathological resentment that seems to know no bounds. The machinery of the state and the ruling minority are hell-bent on retribution removing any semblance of equality and equal treatment. The favoured few push their snouts into the trough leaving little or nothing for the people. (We need to turn to Dostoevsky to understand this ressentiment and its inner motivations.)

A former newspaper editor said the other night that people enjoy unrivaled freedom of the media. It’s the kind of cliche that easily falls from lips. Since 1946 when The Stranger was published the machinery of society has grown enormously under the guise of protecting people. However, today we are experiencing the rise of a new and vigorous authoritarianism where freedom is curb by the liberal left, family life is increasingly being prescribed and the street mob hold sway, destroying and burning private and state property, chaffering to get what they want. Some see the end of the enlightenment era as authoritarianism sweeps across the world. It isn’t necessarily big government that perpetrates authoritarian rule but the aggressive left and the rising mob demanding social justice. Leaders have little or no say and kowtow to all sorts of new demands. Those without the ownership of the machinery of the digital age (in the hands of a few), where people can be summarily banned from media platforms, lose careers and have their reputations destroyed.

Near his execution, Meursault sees people as all privileged but all condemned — and opens himself to ” gentle indifference”. Which means living life on one’s own terms, not being a prisoner of the absurd machinations of societal machinery in whatever form. It’s difficult yes. Is it possible to be free from the mental prison of society where one becomes a unit of production, a consumer and a taxpayer (fleeced to the hilt)? In your own mind, your own life and attitude towards it, one can be free — free to choose what you believe but still bounded by the reality of the absurd. Being condemned to die places everyone in the same circumstances, the same ultimate fate. The Stranger reminds one that you are free to choose how to live on your own terms despite the guillotine ready to fall at any time, the dark wind rising about you.

How does this apply to the ordinary person who most likely wouldn’t be interested in reading Camus? I can think of one person, a friend, who died last year. His death came as a surprise to even those closest to him. It was clear that he had been suffering for a long time with a terminal illness. Knowing him for more than 45 years, I can understand why he chose not to disclose his illness. He was a private person and a rugged individualist. Like Meursault, but for very different reasons, he chose to depart on his own terms with a personal philosophy that created his own individual meaning. The backlash was frustration and even anger from those whose views and attitudes have been shaped by convention and the prevailing societal machinery.

Knowing where you stand in relation to society offers a firm foothold. However, society and its machinery may become more forceful, more demanding and more authoritarian. It doesn’t mean despair or feeling impotent. Meursault was pleased that his mother had taken a “fiancé” near the end of her life. He thinks to himself: “So close to death, Maman must have felt free then and ready to live it all again. Nobody, nobody had the right to cry over her.”

We are all free to take away what we want from The Stranger. Each person will have their own interpretation. One can say a lot more about this fast-paced short novel. It’s deceptively simple on the surface but juxtaposition working on various levels add to a depth, complexity and paradox. The novel still challenges us to think about the conventional and unconventional whatever the prevailing social circumstances and whether you are just starting out in life, as I was when I first read the book, or in the situation where lives are “fading out”.

Debt to Shakespeare

Who really cares about the never ending controversy about who Shakespeare really was? The author of many gripping plays and emotive poems has made a large contribution entertainment and to the English language.

Still, you’ll find questions about him like: Who was the author? Did Shakespeare write his own plays? Could other writers have written the poems and plays? Was Shakespeare a Woman?

Many remember trying to understand Shakespeare’s sonnets and plays at school and wondering why these texts had to be studied. When you write yourself and re-read the poems and plays you realise how incredibly well they were written.

Only a dullard can’t be stirred by these lines (Sonnet 65):

Since brass, nor stone, nor earth, nor boundless sea,
But sad mortality o’ersways their power,
How with this rage shall beauty hold a plea,
Whose action is no stronger than a flower?

So relevant to the corruption and evil-doers of today are these lines from Julius Caesar:

“The evil that men do lives after them;
The good is oft interred with their bones.”

Even Shakespeare’s plots have inspired modern-day adaptations and spin-offs. Japanese film-maker Akira Kurosawa produced : Throne of Blood (1957), a retelling of Macbeth, and Ran (1985), the story of King Lear. In the US, adaptations include Forbidden Planet (1956), West Side Story (1961), The Lion King (1994), and 10 Things I Hate About You (1999). [Respectively, The Tempest, Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet, and The Taming of the Shrew.] A classic western starring Gregory Peck, Anne Baxter and Richard Widmark is based on The Tempest: Yellow Sky (1948).

Words and phrases from his plays have been used for novels and films from Brave New World (Aldous Huxley) and The Sound and the Fury (William Faulkner) to The Glimpses of the Moon (Edith Wharton) and The Dogs of War (Frederick Forsyth).

Here are some common words (check the Internet for many more than 400 words that Shakespeare came up with) that first appeared in Shakespeare’s plays and their meanings:

admirable – something that deserves respect or admiration
auspicious – favorable; promising success; a good omen
baseless – without a foundation; not based on fact

Some phrases that Shakespeare is said to have invented:

“Break the ice” (The Taming of the Shrew)
“Cold comfort” (King John)
“Come what come may” (“come what may”) (Macbeth)
“Eaten me out of house and home” (2 Henry IV)
“In a pickle” (The Tempest)
“What’s done is done” (Macbeth)

We can learn a lot about writing from Shakespeare. Above all he shows us how to write about human emotions. Stories with human emotion are always popular. Learn like Shakespeare to write about the range of human emotions, from love, envy, procrastination, greed and despair.

Peter James in the Guardian says if Shakespeare was a 21st century novelist he’d be a crime writer. “I believe it is because these writers – like Lee Child, Ian Rankin, Ruth Rendell, PD James, Michael Connelly and so many others – tackle the most important issues of our times while making them accessible to everyone… he produced brilliant, classy potboilers, with high body counts and peppered with sex. I rest my case…”

Shakespeare’s writing is hard to read and becoming increasingly so as education deteriorates in many countries. But if we can overcome this we can obtain great value from his works.

How do you improve your business writing?

Business writing is something most business people do every day.

But are their emails and other correspondence effective?

One survey conducted in the computer technology industry involved 1,000 computer professionals. The survey showed that 28 percent of respondents acknowledged poor communication as the main cause of failure to deliver a project within its agreed time frame.

Poor writing skills can harm yourself and your business. One researcher says it can cause confusion and misunderstanding, waste important resources of time and money, erode credibility and trust.

A company reviewed nearly 3,000 emails and found 15 percent lacked a main idea or clear instructions for the reader, with 16 percent having to be re-worked. They calculated the cost of writing these poor emails.

How then to improve your business writing?

One of the common approaches is to examine word usage, grammar, sentence structure and compression of thought. But business writing goes much further and it takes application to improve.

You can read more business correspondence documents, get help from a colleague, take an online course, get someone to assist you with your writing or even get someone to do your writing for you.

Contact Business Writing Academy for more information.

Business continuity and a six-pack of risk strategies

Business continuity and a six-pack of risk strategies

Knowing the different types of risks that can cause business disruption in a company is crucial in these volatile and complex times. 

I was going to cover in detail the six types of strategies to help protect a company’s critical processes but I’m sure you can pick them up in business continuity process planning training or from your implementation partner. 

The important point I want to get across is how to manage different kinds of risks that could lead to business disruption. 

You can handle risk by modifying it, reducing it, transferring it, putting in loss mitigation controls or through business continuity management. 

All these options depend on a company’s risk appetite – how much risk you are prepared to retain in the company. 

Now to the point — think of all the risks you face in your business and how you are going to manage them.

It was interesting to see Acer hit with R7 billion ransomware demand this week. Do you have cybercrime threats that face your business? What would be the financial impact because of disruption? 

Enjoy your weekend. #riskmanagement #businesscontinuityplanning

How to perform a business continuity risk assessment

Today’s businesses face various risks including financial, market, reputation, legal and operational threats.

Business continuity involves operational risk to a company – its purpose is to identify the threats, vulnerabilities and failure points from production to supply of products or services.

Management needs to identify operational risks through risk assessment. A starting point could be the company’s risk register (if available) or a risk workshop held by top management.

They’ll need to seek the risks of disruption to the company’s important activities. This includes a thorough review of processes, systems, information, people, assets and outsource partners.

Natural risks can include extreme weather and climate change. Human-made risks include those in supply chains, information security, fire and explosions, systems failure and legal compliance.

Risks need further analysis through a business impact analysis. Each key risk should include strategies to mitigate, reduce, transfer or eliminate risk.

One of the key responsibilities of top management is to review risks or issues not adequately addressed in previous risk assessments and ensure that the company’s key risks are updated.

Business continuity management isn’t compulsory but that doesn’t mean it isn’t important (and vital in risky business environments)

Photo credit: Michael Shannon, Unsplash

When I was growing up, eating healthy food wasn’t compulsory but a good diet was essential to health and vitality.

Lots of exercise wasn’t enforced but it was crucial to a happy mind and healthy body.

It’s not compulsory to go to your doctor for an annual check-up but you could detect trouble in its early stages.

You don’t have to take out household insurance but it can help get your home up and running after an armed robbery.

There’s no mandatory need to save for a rainy day but in these times a cash reserve can ease unnecessary hardship for your business.

It’s not compulsory to prepare a business continuity plan. Not like health and safety management plans and other legal compliance requirements. But having a business continuity plan will help get your business up and running faster after a disruptive incident. Or, it may prevent your business closing down as have so many in this challenging economic environment.

“Keep inventing, and don’t despair when at first the idea looks crazy. Remember to wander. Let curiosity be your compass. It remains Day 1.” Jeff Bezos

A rare moment in time

Photograph credit: Chesney Bradshaw

I arrive at the beach, put my swimming things down and sit on a stone bench under a tree. I can’t believe I am here after a difficult year. It is late in the afternoon and shadows from the big trees that surround the beach cast long shadows across the sand. The seawater is flat, sheltered by the large granite boulders that run along the shore between the beach and out towards the entrance of the beach.

Two elderly women and an old man sit on a bench chatting. Another two women, in their forties, sit on their towels on the beach their legs outstretched. A woman in her forties walks past me, puts her personal things on a stone bench and walks down to the water’s edge. I watch her walk into the water, dive in and swim the length of the small bay, and then out into the open sea.

I change into my swimming costume and go down to the beach. The sea water feels chilly against my ankles but as I walk in deeper to waist height my body acclimatises to the cold. I’ve been swimming in inland pools and the seawater temperature takes a little getting used to. I came to this beach two years ago and have missed the sea, the sand and the sun.

I take in a deep breath and dive into the water and swim over-arm for several strokes. Now my body feels the temperature of the water. It’s warmer than I thought. I swim out to the two big boulders that mark the entrance to the small bay, turn around and make my way back to the beach.

Inside the bay I dive under the water, a greenish colour as I open my eyes. I check out the rocks and sand and then see two sea urchins lying on the sand. All that’s left of the sea urchins is green shells after they died a long time back. I leave them lying there on the sandy bottom. I’m not one for taking anything from the sea. I took enough in my younger days.

I swim towards the shallow part of the beach and linger there. I lie on my back in the water, looking up at the sky. Around me the kelp sways around the brown rocks in the surge. Inshore wave ripples run up the white beach sand. I’ll have to get out of the water but I want to stay there with the sea around my body for as long as I can. I have no compelling reason to get out, no arrangements for the evening, no rush to go somewhere, no people to see.

Far out beyond the big boulders the woman who went in earlier swims across the mouth of the bay. She is an experienced swimmer to be so long in the water. The light is fading, the shadows becoming longer, the water in front flat. Further out to sea is a large outcrop of gigantic boulders, and even further out is the lighthouse.

In this moment I feel it. Something moves within me. I sense nature drawing me into relaxation. The troubles of the long year past seem to melt away. All the people who contributed to the year’s turmoil don’t matter anymore. I continue sitting there looking at the scene before me, feeling as though I have become one with nature.

I don’t want to leave, don’t want to get up, don’t want to go anywhere. All I want to do is stay in the moment. A peaceful feeling comes over me making my head and body feel light. No buzzing or vibrations, only a calm making me feel relaxed. I wondered what has overcome me but put it down to being in a beautiful place with the stillness of evening and being where I want to be.

A woman comes down to the rocks before the beach and sits there taking in the scene. I hardly notice her. The two women and the old man still sit near me chatting. The woman who went in for a long swim comes out of the water, walks up the beach and strikes up a conversation with the woman who has arrived at the beach.

The calmness that comes over me remains. I’m in a place where I had long to be. A place I had almost forgotten about like someone you once knew long ago. Then you remember them and wonder what it would be like to see them again. You may have lost contact or they are long gone. Here in front of me the place I once knew as a teenager is still here and will remain in me.

To feel such deep relaxation when your mind and body seem to take in your whole surroundings doesn’t often happen with this intensity. I only experience this feeling again about a month later one morning in the solitude of the Kalahari in Namibia. There where the grass shimmers in the wind makes me feel like I am watching the ocean before me. It’s not possible to live in a state and moment of heightened feeling in ordinary day-to-day living. But the experiences stay with you to recall and relive when you need to feel alive and connected to something bigger than yourself. When you let go and find yourself in a state of utter calm.