• 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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Death of the intrepid traveller

Death of the intrepid traveller.

3 Responses

  1. Sir Giles Chumley-Smythe was returning from one of his many adventures in Africa (by S.A.Airways of course) a daring air stewardess approached him to say how much she enjoyed his books. Sir Giles went into his dictatorial mode and told her he had never been bitten by anything he always smothered himself in citronella oil And burned citronella candles all night but feared this would be his last trip for a while because he was travelling home earlier than planned as his heart was playing up a bit. A few weeks later he visits his daughter and comments on the little black flies over her garden pond. ‘They are only gnats, dad’ ‘ gnats, what are those, ones bitten me? ‘Oh, they don’t bite they insert their probuscus and suck blood you know, they are like mosquitoes’ At which point Sir Giles drops to the ground from indignation and fright.

    A bit feeble I’m making them up as I go along. Love Victoria. Xxxxxxxx

    From Vicky Withers


    • As a member of the noble ‘What-the-dickens’ family … also known as the Devil’s Own, this intrepid lady of both veiled hat and comment, ventured forth from the Coathanger Province to the Windy City some six months ago.

      Whilst deeply respecting Hon. James Clarke and Lady Vicky Withers’s’s’s brave commentaries, these are nothing compared with the horrors of my making a new home down here at the coast where there is and has been, I am reliably informed, an infestation or two or three of the much dreaded Giant African Millipede. I have read up everything there is to know about them; what they eat, where they hide, what they don’t like. etc. Particularly because they decided that my home is their home and their home is ‘theirs’s’s’s’ home.

      I have sprayed with every insecticide on the market which has been detrimental for my asthma but I did get one, eventually, that does the trick. Seemingly shongololos have a similar crust on their backs (ugh!) as crayfish and cockroaches, so I bought Dyroach which ha ha, sneer, ha ha, seems to stop them from venturing too near to me as they become so drunk with spray. At this point, I plop a polystyrene cup on top of them until they make circles of themselves and then the Black & Decker hand vac does the rest of the job. Do you know, they climb up the walls in their thousands until your cream painted exterior (of the house not me!) looks like modern art zebra paintings.

      I have been told by more than one empathetic neighbour or contractor that these monsters are toyi-toying all the way from Paarl en route for the Eastern Cape and doubtless my home in particular. I believe the roads are sometimes black from the sheer numbers but the cars have to ride relentlessly ha, ha, sneer, ha ha, over them to get where they need to go. Glee for me!

      I hate admitting my hatred of God’s creatures to you, Hon. James Clarke knowing what an inveterate nature lover you are and all that but have to tell you that in view of the approaching mating season of the horrid swine in question, I am preparing for the Spring onslaught by digging a moat around my house and anyone who wants to come and see me can either jump over the bleeding thing or fall into the swirl of swinish shongolola infested water. I just don’t care!

    • Ha ha, Vicky. I see you are as entranced with His Nibs’s’s’s’s’ writing as I am. Do you think the gnats were members of the former political party of the same name? hee hee

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