• 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.

Japlish and Chinglese – irresistible

It is, of course, rude to laugh at the efforts of foreigners trying to write English – especially people from the Far East. How can somebody, like me for instance who knows only two Japanese expressions (“saki” and “Tokyo Sexwale”), have the cheek to laugh?
Well, like chocolate digestives and kicking car tyres, I can’t help myself – and suppressing the temptation to laugh at Far Eastern instruction leaflets can lead to stress fractures in the lower abdomen.
Some time ago C L Voges of Lakeview, Florida, sent me the following instructions for a Japanese keyboard:
The audio speaker is so construction that a sound of volume will come out of it when a key is depressed due to the finger. This is due to an electricity of alternate flowing in the coil in it.
And how was this? – it came with a calculator.
The batterys must position so that the poles are to correspond to the like poles mark on the device. This will failure or damage device if not done so correctly.
Les Caroto sent me a letter he had received from a Taiwanese corporation:
Dear Sirs, we hereby to recommend a most practical invention, Ribbon Inker, to you. Instead of renewing a ribbon from time to time, Ribbon Inker makes it can be re-used over and over. Spenting just a little money you’ll have unexpected effect.
This machine can make the ribbon use again and again and don’t need to renewing so soon and re-used the ribbon over and over to protect the earth to increase rubbish.
All of us think that this new item will be come most necessary and most popular in the latest.
More information will be supplied at your comments. Please contact with us earlier, we assure you of our best service and quickly reply.
From an unnamed source I received these instructions which accompanied a Taiwanese-made sponge purporting to be German-made:
SPONGE SQUEEZE – please put sponge in water about 3-5 minutes to soft before use. Attention to always keep wet.
Wash the dirt, draw the handle a few times and dirt water will quick off the sponge.
NOTE: The Germany sponge features – don’t need sunburn and always keep wet after use for available. If a long time didn’t use it will dry out, please put in water again, for useful and long life.
And on a peanut packet:
GOOD EDIBLES – It is a famous local product refined with the peanuts in a special grade as raw material which are in even granule and thick in nut but thin in skin by a traditional direction in an advanced scientific method. It is a kind of good edibles which is suitable for young or old people with the special taste causing your favourite.
The Chinese use insensitive computer programmes to translate Chinese into English with sometimes hilarious results.
It prompted sports journalist, Jane Bramley, to tell me about a yoga mat she recently bought and how the instructions “nearly caused me to twist myself into a knot because I laughed so hard reading them”.
Jane then quotes:
The yogo mat is made of OVC foam materials which make it exceptionally durable, not adhinit dust, no poisonous, no sapor, block burn, defend avulsion, you can seat on the floor to practice the yoga, you can feel more comfort, act to the moment because of the yoga mat.
The rubber foam materials can greatly strengthen the resist the pull, make the action slowly, protect your body to get hurt.
Product characteristics: Flexible, comfort, touch the ground well. Excellent endure climate, protect the color. Withstand avulsion well, bear the low temperature. Good flexible, not easy to distortion
Soft chest expander. The soft chest expander is an exercise tool used to strengthen health. Its ergonomic design allows for ease of use while reducing the risk of possible injury. It’s well suitable for the length, the strength, the handgrip with the rubber foam, the pulling well, flexible comfort, antiskid good, the safe coefficient is high, it’s convenience for you stretching at home, it not only eliminate the proud flesh on the arm and the shoulder, but can also promote health develop of strengthen chest, it should exercise plump, goodliness of chest lines.
Avulsion? Like the tearing off of a limb.
Hmm. I need to exercise the plump. Maybe I should get a yoga mat and eliminate the proud flesh.
Imraan Geedat of Springs sent me the instructions for a “Magic Cube”, an elongated version of the Rubik Cube:
Exotic snake is an itellicence test to gain creativity cubic configueation and space master spilts, by spinnting the 24 bricks contionusly.
We can create thousand kings of different gitapes. This smain brochure coneats the picture created by exotic snake, please master these picture first, if you have done this then make your own pictures.
I received anonymously the instructions for a Hamanaka Pencil. It is for drawing on fabric. “For all clothes – Just only draw. You can dye”.
In case you made a mess of things it suggested: “You can clean up the colours on your hand and/or foot easily with soup.”

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