• Message from James Clarke

    "South Africa's Best Humour Columnist"

    - SA's Comedy Awards September 2008

    “South Africa’s funniest columnist.”

    - Financial Mail

    WELCOME TO MY BLOG

    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 ....


    ooo

    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.

Is it safe?

I have decided to turn this blogsite into a more informal site – to share some of the daft events that happen to me and some of the thoughts I have after 60 years in daily newspaper journalism in South Africa and the UK and New Zealand. Nothing very profound you understand.
I’ll treat blogging as a grown-up version of facebooking.
Right now I am finalising – with some trepidation – a nine day expedition to Harare’s surrounds but mainly to Zimbabwe’s Eastern Highlands (Honde & Burma Valleys, etc).
Mary and I are mainly birding but also seeking material for our travel articles in various magazines and newspapers for which we regularly contribute.
My concern is: how safe is Zimbabwe?
I have in the past enjoyed Zimabwe immensely – especially its friendly people, but I was last there in 1999.
These days I am deep into pensionable age and Mary only just. The two of us are, let’s say, vulnerable should we run into official or unofficial road blocks.
Not that I, personally, know of any such incidents though I have read of some – especially of police blocks where the officers are merely looking for bribes – as so many do in South Africa.
We are travelling in a rather remote part of Zimbabwe and a Zimbabwean has warned us:
1. Don’t stop on the side of the road and get out to admire the scenery or to identify a bird.
2. Don’t visit view sites or tourist sites on your own.
3. Hide your money is some unlikely places in the car (w’re hiring vehicle from Lucky Bean Car Hire in Harare).
4. Carry dollars of small denomination so that when you feel compelled to pay a bribe you don’t pull out $10 or $20 notes. Rands, despite being legal currency, are no good. They want US dollars.
5. The police are not always in uniform.
Can anybody enlighten me further? Are we taking an undue risk?

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