• 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.

Be my Valentine – anybody!

I don’t get Valentine cards. But, being an optimist, around this time of the year I hang around my post office box – even as late as April. You never know, what with the post being like it is.

The last time I received a Valentine card was in 1976 when I wrote in my diary:

February 14. Dear diary, Got up. Went excitedly down to mailbox, prized open rusted lid to find I had been inundated by a St Valentine’s Day card!

Tried to remain calm by going into yoga position and doing deep breathing but found myself frenziedly tearing away envelope sending little bits of paper flying everywhere.

“WHO? WHO?” (Caught myself shouting this out loud.)

Occurred to me that really, despite my age, I still have potential as lover boy. Still have lots of own hair, quite a few teeth, and do macho things like use Mum for Men and crush empty beer cans although, these days, it takes both hands and sometimes I also have to jump up and down on them.

I am not saying I am a Sex Symbol of Our Time but considering afflictions of youth, I have reason to be satisfied. Main problem in youth was that, whenever confronted by a girl, the nose would bleed, sometimes copiously.

With great fortitude I learned to overcome this to a certain extent. I never went on a date without a pocketful of teaspoons and keys for my girlfriend to drop down my back. Also held head right back when chatting up girls but this inhibited flow of smoochy-type conversation.

Worst problem was acting nonchalant at intimate candlelit dinners with plugs of toilet paper sticking from nose. Especially if plug fell out.

Sorry, diary, I digress.

Anyway, opened Valentine card and read through fog of perfume: “Guess who, cutie pie???” That’s all. That’s all it said.

Desperately tried to recognise handwriting but totally stumped. Who was she??? Pounded the forehead.

The envelope! That’s it! The postmark! Retrieved the little scraps of envelope from bushes and reconstructed them on pavement. Postmark simply read “Johannesburg”.

But address on envelope riveted attention. The card was for next door.

Felt sick. Neighbour has less hair than me and is an accountant who wears grey shoes. “Cutie pie”? Ha! Cute like Mike Tyson!

Keep asking myself “Why him?”

Tossed card into bin. No point in complicating his life, he’d only end up with a pacemaker.

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