Book review – The Kalahari Typing School for Men

The Kalahari Typing School for Men is the fourth in The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series of novels by Alexander McCall Smith, set in Gaborone, Botswana, and featuring the Motswana protagonist Precious Ramotswe.

Mma Ramotswe talks with her fiance Mr JLB. Matekoni about the future of her assistant, Mma Makutsi, who seems to have difficulty finding suitable men. Later the two women discuss the same topic. At Mr JLB Matekoni’s garage, the younger apprentice changes, no longer always looking at girls. He has found religion. When Mma Ramotswe arrives at home, both of her foster children seem down, with Motholeli and Puso being the subject of mainly verbal bullying. Motheleli seems to get over this, while Puso projects his anger at his foster parents.

Mma Makutsi opens a typing school just for men, because men do not enroll at the Secretarial College because they do not want to be bettered by women, though they need to type in their jobs. She obtains typewriters from her alma mater, the Botswana Secretarial College, and finds a place to teach at the younger apprentice’s church. 

MOVIE REVIEW – ERIN BROKOVICH

Erin Brockovich is a 2000 American biographical legal drama film directed by Steven Soderbergh and written by Susannah Grant. The film is a dramatization of the true story of Erin Brockovich, portrayed by Julia Roberts.

In 1993, Erin Brockovich is an unemployed single mother of three children who has recently been injured in a traffic accident with a doctor and is suing him. Her lawyer, Ed Masry, expects to win, but Erin’s confrontational courtroom behavior under cross-examination loses her the case, and Ed will not return her phone calls afterwards. One day, he arrives at work to find her in the office, apparently working. She says that he told her things would work out and they did not, and that she needed a job. She asks Ed for a job, which he reluctantly gives her.

Erin is given files for a real estate case where the Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) is offering to purchase the home of Donna Jensen, a resident of Hinkley, California. Erin is surprised to see medical records in the file and visits Donna, who explains that she had simply kept all her PG&E correspondence together. Donna appreciates PG&E’s help: she has had several tumors and her husband has Hodgkin’s lymphoma, but PG&E has always supplied a doctor at their own expense. Erin asks why they would do that, and Donna replies, “because of the chromium”. Erin begins digging into the case and finds evidence that the groundwater in Hinkley is seriously contaminated with carcinogenic hexavalent chromium, while PG&E has been telling Hinkley residents that they use a safer form of chromium. After several days away from the office investigating, she finds her possessions missing from her desk. She is then informed by Brenda, Mr. Masry’s secretary, that she has been fired for missing a week of work. Despite protesting that she has been out conducting research, Erin nevertheless leaves defeated.