• 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.

Aunt Prudence strikes again

Few readers know it but The Stoep Talk Organisation – the holding company for the Stoep Talk Column – has a rich history of helping people and at one time ran an agony column by “Aunty Pru”. Readers were invited to send her their problems.
Mindful of how some agony columnists are said to make up their own questions – something Stoep Talk (as everybody knows) would never do – we employed Miss Prudence Subtle-Boozer.
She wrote part time while running a home for fallen women in Ventersdorp. She was later matron at Stilton College, a well-known maximum security boys’ school in Natal and had enormous experience solving irritating personal problems such as bad breath and criminal insanity.
Aunt Prudence, in her sensitive columns, saved many a couple from the marriage yoke and set many an acne-tortured teenager on the right path (to lovers’ leap, mostly).
Some who responded were trying to strike up a relationship with a boy/girl/their mother/a Maltese poodle – others had problems such as itchiness or self-actualising and how to neck when one has a heavy cold.
This was 11 years ago and Aunt Pru is still around.
But the day we launched we were inundated by three letters:
Dear Aunt Prudunce,
(Please ecxuse my typing) Accordinh to my stars – I am Pisced by th way – I am abour to meet a tall, dark, hangsome man yet I am enfaged to a short, bald fat man who plays with model trains. He even maks me imitate train tooting becasuse, he say, it turns him on. Should I (at 43) wait for the TDH man or marry what’s in hand? Deepl:y Troubled, Tonteldoos, Ext 3.
Dear Gertie, you say you are Pisced. I do hope you meant Pisces. (If not try switching to low alcohol beer.) I would certainly give that frustrated would-be shunter a final shunt. You’ve waited at least 20 years for the right man so why not hang about a bit longer because, in the new South Africa, tall dark handsome men are, these days, going places fast?
Dear Aunt Prudence,
I cannot bear my fiancee’s name – Monica Piddlington (but please don’t use this as her mother will murder me) – yet she flatly refuses to change it. I have suggested Brunhilde (I am German). Piddlington will, of course, fall away when we marry and become Von Kimmelling-Berscheshagenoffenbach. What worries me is that if she won’t do little things for me now – like changing her first name – what about when we get married and I might require bigger things? For example, she will need plastic surgery to change her face so that it is in keeping with what I expect of a wife. Werner, Dinwiddie.
Dear Werner, women can be very unreasonable and stubborn. Monica’s mother might be a problem too. If you really HAVE to marry the girl – on account of, say, her money – why not let her keep her name Monica on paper but call her Brunhilde in the house? She’ll soon warm to it.
Dear Aunt Pru,
I am 18 and all my friends have dates except me – all I seem to have is acne. What can I do? Tearful, Midrand.
Dear Tearful, there’s nothing wrong with going out with acne. I accept that acne isn’t going to pay for your cinema ticket or a meal in a fancy restaurant but it will always be there next morning which is more than your girlfriends can say about their boyfriends. From your picture you have a particularly hideous case of acne. Try wearing a bag over your head. Boys love a mystery.

3 Responses

  1. Dear Aunt Pru. About Gertie! I am a Pisces too and you really should not make fun of our sun sign!!!! Haha, I laughed reading this. I am hesitant to leave a comment. We Pisceans are shy. Enigmatic too. Or so says my first news editor, who sported a twirly moustache. He still does, but now, alas I have a beard. So I don’t venture out in public much.

    I may take your advice, Aunt Pru, and put a bag over my head. Even tho I don’t have acne. My boyfriend recommends a plastic bag.

    Just kidding about the beard. I am very feminine and never wear jeans, mainly bec I can’t fit into them.

    What would I do without my Aunt Pru?

  2. Dear Clare – I get a lot of troubled ladies like you. But to go about without your jeans on is against the law – especially in places like Ventersdorp and Prieska.
    If you are particularly ugly like, say, the back of a rubbish cart or a maribou stork then perhaps you should go around without your jeans on after all – it will tend take people’s attent
    ion away from your face.
    Have you considered wearing a mud pack – I mean when you go out?
    Aunt Prudence

    • Well, I don’t go out much. But all that’s changed now. I took your advice and bought a mud pack. Oh, Aunt Pru, you’ve really spiced up my love life. My boyfriend took me to movies last night. And actually held my hand. He says if I wear the mud pack all the time, we can even have friends around! Mud-caked kisses, Clare

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