• Message from James Clarke

    "South Africa's Best Humour Columnist"

    - SA's Comedy Awards September 2008

    “South Africa’s funniest columnist.”

    - Financial Mail


    The name is Clarke. James Clarke. I have been told by people who know their way around the electronic world with its iPads, USBs, processors, modems, 500 gb hard drives, Blackberries and microwave ovens, that as a writer I have to have a blogsite. Otherwise, I am told, it is like passing oneself off as a CEO and you haven’t a leather chair that tilts back.

    Yet after four years of having a blogsite I still don’t really understand what it is or how it helps sell my books which is my major concern in life apart from not stepping on cracks when walking on the pavement.

    I am also told that on a blogsite it is customary to refer to oneself in the third person. This enables one to grossly exaggerate ones attainments without appearing to have done so personally.

    Not being one to buck the system...

    London-born James Clarke is your average tall, dark, handsome fellow who writes books – fiction and non-fiction. As a humorist he has been compared with PG Wodehouse and James Thurber. (The Daily Bugle in Des Moines said “compared with the works of PG Wodehouse and James Thurber, Clarke’s writing isn’t worth a row of beans”.)

    He long ago settled in South Africa where he became a mover and a shaker in the world of the environmental sciences. As a youth, being a mover and a shaker, had made it impossible for him to follow in his father’s footsteps as a bottler in a nitro-glycerine plant. Hence he turned to journalism.

    But around the time he retired a few years ago he found a new pursuit as a humorist. He wrote a daily humour column in the Johannesburg Star (now syndicated) and began turning out books of humour in the UK and South Africa.

    Clarke very recently moved boldly into the electronic publishing world. It was, he said afterwards, like a non-swimmer diving into a pool without first testing its depth.

    In November 2011 he re-issued his latest book of humour, “Blazing Saddles”, as an Amazon Kindle e-book under the title “Blazing Bicycle Saddles”. For a mere US$4.99 you can download a copy of this seminal cycling book in a matter of seconds by clicking here ....


    He did this with the full realisation that he is totally at sea in the electronic world with its telephones that take movies and receive faxes and sports results.

    The original edition of “Blazing Saddles”, published by Jonathan Ball, has been out of print for two years. It reveals the true story of how six retired men – five of them journalists – year after year set out (intrepidly) from the African continent on a series of exploratory expeditions cycling into “Darkest Europe” to bring back to the people of Africa tales of its funny natives.

    Clarke will also shortly be publishing, via Amazon.com, another of his action-packed autobiographical books – this time an account of his Second World War exploits as L*E*A*D*E*R of the Yellow Six Patrol of the 1st Streetly Boy Scouts in the English Midlands. He recounts the patrol’s ceaseless campaign to defeat Adolf Hitler’s plan to invade England.

    You can read about “The Yellow Six” within this blogsite.

    Clarke, apart from moving and shaking, is a travel writer and proud father of two highly successful daughters – one a biologist and the other an environmental impact analyst. He and his wife, Lenka, live north of Johannesburg.

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  It was only in the 1990s that the Queen of England agreed to pay personal income tax – a formality she was neither familiar with nor particularly happy with. The visit by Nelson Mandela in 1996 prompted her to make special representations regarding a rebate.

To HM Inspector of Taxes

From HM Queen Elizabeth II


We have been Queen of England now for more than 40 years and, as you know, we have agreed to pay tax on our personal income. Ipso facto we have a right to claim certain expenses and we thought you should take into consideration the enclosed material pertaining to our ever-increasing living costs.

Our husband, as my Inspector of Taxes is doubtless aware, has been out of work since he left our Navy in 1951. Our eldest son, HRH the Prince of Wales, is unemployed at present although he does perform a lot of duties for us and has tried his hand, not terribly successfully, at painting pictures.

Our daughter is, at the time of writing, again married but our two sons are underemployed and their contributions to household and palacehold expenses amounted to a mere £196 in the financial year although HRH Prince Andrew did occasionally bring home take-aways.

In addition HM The Queen Mother continues to be with us and, at 96, is getting through 12 bottles of Saluza 45 (King Size)a day and three boxes of Carter’s Little Liver Pills.

Our travel expenses are itemised from page 289 to 401 and will need sympathetic attention involving as they do 10 Rolls Royces, Six Jaguars, 12 Land Rovers and Range Rovers, five superannuated Austins, eight coaches, 12 Landaus, various bicycles, 786 horses, two helicopters and a largish boat.

To give you an example of the enormous costs involved – the simple act of entertaining Mr Nelson Mandela last week and accompanying this gentleman just once round the block involved the Household Cavalry, the Queen’s Own Highlanders and the Queen’s Flat of Foot; 278 horses, 60 footmen, 417 security men and 457 others.

You will see from the enclosed (pages 578-89) that we are trying to contain expenses by, possibly, disbanding the Household Cavalry and, instead, training the corgis as watchdogs. This will entail inaugurating the position of HM Keeper of the Corgis which, I trust, will be deductable.

As far as running costs at Buckingham Palace (pages 667-759) and our other palaces are concerned, although the bonds are paid off, running costs are heavy. You will recall we lost a section of Windsor Castle to fire in 1992, and it was not insured. We still owe the plumbers.

And we wish to draw my Inspectors attention to entertainment. Our request for £699 876 765.57 may appear, at a cursory glance, to be a trifle excessive but HM Controller of the Purse Strings, the Hon Sir Angus McMeany, assures us that the claims are reasonable.

Take the banquet which we organised on behalf, let it be emphasised, of our loyal subjects, for Mr Mandela. It involved 600 personnel, not to mention several trips to Fortnum and Mason before we managed to procure fresh sole which, one may point out, was hardly touched by that worthy gentleman although it cost the earth. This is not to say that others in his party did not eat very heartily indeed. Indeed they did. As for wine, they drank as only South Africans can. You must appreciate they don’t sip like Englishmen.

We also had to entertain, for diplomatic reasons, the Sultan of Jumpah. I am not sure if you are acquainted with the price of sheep’s eyes and stuffed camel bladders which have to be specially brought in from somewhere south of London, but you will probably be surprised to learn that the hors d’oeuvres alone amounted to £78 987.98.

We sincerely hope this helps towards your understanding our claim for deductions set out hereunder, enclosed herewith, please find.

Signed. Elizabeth II.

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