• 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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The art of head punching


Watching a French rugby game on television recently  I saw a French reservist come on to the field punching his own head.

 In 1998, while watching France play England at the Stade de France, I saw a large French player do the same thing – running onto the field punching his own head using both fists. Pow! Pow! Pow! Pow! Pow! Pow!

It was as if he was saying, “Head! Just get used to this because for the next couple of hours – allowing for injury time – you are going to get knocked around tres terrible!”

The first time I witnessed this strange behaviour was in 1993 during a boxing match on television.

Boxing was never my game. I did a bit at school but my problem was that my nose would spurt blood as soon as the bell went for round one.

 n this day in 1993, having nothing better to do, I was switching through the channels as one does when one’s mind has gone, when I saw this hooded boxer, Louis Gent of Britain.

He was moving down the aisle towards the ring with a theatrically mean expression. Gent was prancing, skippityskip, like a schoolgirl dancing along a pavement trying to avoid stepping on the cracks, and he was punching the air as if he had something against sparrows.

 I felt he needed professional help.

 Then came his opponent, Nigel Benn, also of Britain. Unlike Gent, whose skin was a shade lighter than that of a plucked French hen, Benn’s skin was boot-polish black.

Benn was punching his own head as he walked down the aisle – a habit, I thought, that must have caused his mother considerable anxiety.

 As the two danced around in the ring glaring belligerently at one another, I noticed the black man had “Dark Destroyer” embroidered on his gown and the white man had “Lethal Weapon”.

This was to be the welterweight championship of the world or some such place.

The MC was shouting into a microphone. At a boxing match, everybody shouts. This is perfectly normal for a boxing match.

When a commentator asks an expert sitting right next to him what he thinks about the last round, the question is shouted with the same volume one normally reserves for asking a Bulgarian peasant for directions to Panagyurischte.

 And the expert bellows back so that his neck veins stand out like ship’s hawsers.

 he announcer informed us that Gent was the one wearing red shorts and Benn was the one wearing blue. This saved drawing attention to the fact that one was white and the other black.

 Early in the first round the white man began to bleed copiously. Even his back began to bleed.

In the second round he went down five times – I had the impression he was looking for his teeth.

The commentator kept shouting, “Gent is hurt! Gent is hurt!”

 An expert was more clinical, “Gent is hurt bad!”

Yet we could all see that Gent was hurt bad. In fact, he looked as if he had fallen off the north face of the Matterhorn. We could even have told them who did it (it was the guy in the blue shorts).

 At the end of the round, the referee stopped the fight and declared Benn the world champion. Benn then did an amazing thing: he gave Gent a big kiss.

I considered punching my own head each morning instead of doing as I usually do – beating my chest and shouting “Tora! Tora! Tora!” – but I never remember until around 10am and by then I am usually in the office or at a traffic light and this is not a good time to do it.



One Response

  1. Hi! Quick question that’s totally off topic. Do you know how to make your site mobile friendly? My blog looks weird when viewing from my iphone4. I’m trying to find a theme or plugin that
    might be able to fix this problem. If you have any suggestions, please share.
    Thank you!

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