• 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 pouring again. Lightning picked at the cityscape.Nobody in the scurrying, home-going crowd had a raincoat.

Johannesburg’s 1,73 million people possess only three raincoats among them, two dating back to the last really wet year, 1933.

On the rain-sodden corner of Diagonal and Pritchard streets stood the most stunning girl I have seen since Jennifer O’Neill in “The Summer of ’42”. She could not have been 19.

Thirty-six maybe, but not 19.

At her age she had probably never really experienced rain before. Not real rain like this. Not rain that goes on and on for seven or eight minutes registering more than 10 mm on the Richter Scale.

I had spotted her as I was driving past the old Stock Exchange. She was wet through. Her sleek blonde hair fell in wet strands on her bronzed shoulders (it would grow again, I was sure) and her blouse, transparent with rain, clung to her voluptuous goose-pimpled breasts.

My eyes travelled downwards, following the curve of her thigh to which her wet skirt clung like a second skin.

It was then that I ran over five pedestrians and cannoned off a passing minibus, clean through the plate glass window of Yashat Patel and Sons, curry merchants, fogging the air with a billowing, powdery, yellow imitation of a World War 1 mustard gas attack.

Somewhere a fire started and a distant siren wailed.

I slowed down.

Miraculously I was not badly hurt – a limb or two some lacerations. Nothing inoperable.

But I knew no pain as I alighted from the car and groped my way blindly across Diagonal Street, searching, searching for HER.

In retrospect, I suppose, I should not have groped. But there it is. One thinks of these things only afterwards, on the way to jail.

At least I was able to enjoy two seconds of tactile ecstasy which more than made up for the 10 minutes she spent spraying me with mace and sandbagging me with her enormous carpet bag.

Only when she saw my gaping wounds did she ease up and, perhaps thinking she herself was responsible, help me to my feet and into a Keep Your City Clean bin.

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