• 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.

How to deal with Royalty

 Soon after South Africa adopted a universal franchise a number of British royals began visiting our new and, once-again respected country and I thought it a good idea to appraise readers of how to behave when meeting royalty. I sought advice from my friend, Lt-Col Sir John Chamberlayne-Arbuthnot, Bt., C.V.O., B.C., R.S.V.P., A.S.A.P.,  A.A., an expert on protocol.

“Potty,” I said (Potty’s nickname is short for “chamber pot” which, of course, is derived from the Chamberlayne part of his name), “Potty, as you know, Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II and His Royal Highness, Prince Philip the Duke of Edinburgh, arrive in South Africa this weekend. It occurs to me that a lot of us could suddenly be confronted by a Royal Personage and I would appreciate advice on how one should conduct oneself.”

I  must say this for Potty, he knows his stuff. He knows which way to pass the port and which way up to hold his fork when eating peas.

His advice boiled down to this:

> Shaking hands – You may take the Queen’s hand only if she offers it. Do not kiss it (especially if you have been eating savouries topped with cheese whorl); do not hang on to it, or wring it, or shake it vigorously.

>Bowing and scraping – (gentlemen should bow ever so slightly. To perform a deep bow when the Queen is not expecting it could mean your forehead coming to rest on the Royal Bosom or your face buried in her bouquet which could induce a hay fever attack causing you to sneeze all over her.

>Ladies may curtsy, but those with arthritic knees should not attempt this unless they can do it without knee-clicks and gasps, and they must be sure they can straighten out their legs within a reasonable time.

>Pleasantries – Don’t bother to introduce yourself unless the Queen introduces herself first. If she says something like “How do you do? I’m the Queen of England” you may respond by saying “How do you do? I am Ernie Throg.” If, indeed, that is your name.

>Don’t take the question “How do you do?” literally. Don’t, for instance, go into details about your stomach. She is unlikely to be really interested in how you do do.

>Conversing – NEVER ask the Queen a question. If she asks you about your children do not take this as an invitation to say: “They’re fine, how’s Charles getting along with his vegetables?”

>If the Queen asks you a question, answer it in as few words as possible – she probably has 200 other guests to speak to in the next three minutes.

>If she asks you what you do for a living, don’t thrust your hands into your pockets and lean against a pillar and tell her how you travel in bathroom ware and that if ever she needs to fix a drip you’d give her a special price – she might think you’re referring to somebody in the family.

>Physical contact – Never touch the Queen’s person. Apart from briefly shaking her hand – if she proffers it – never put your hand on her shoulder or pat her cheek or fiddle with her jewellery, asking how much it cost.

>Prince Philip – With Prince Philip you can relax a little, but do not take too much advantage of his affability should he be displaying any that day. If he calls you by your first name do not presume to call him Phil.

>Greetings – Do not greet Royal Personages unless you are greeted first. If you see Prince Philip coming out of the gents it is polite to ignore him. Do not resort to wisecracks like “Did you remember to wash your hands?”

>Taboo words – Howzit? Camilla, Dodi, Bloomers, Sweetie, Charlie-boy, Hey! Lavatory, Andrew, Money, Fergie, You, Income tax, Bloody hell.

Filed under: General, StoepTalk | Tagged: humour, james clarke, Prince Philip, Queen, royalty, stoep talk | No Comments

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: