• 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.

Enclosed, one child, please find

   Dateline London – A plan to postcode children so that, if lost, they can be delivered home via the Post Office will be launched by Britain’s Royal Mail service. Parents place stickers carrying identification data into their children’s shoes. – UK report.

Dateline Johannesburg – A letter posted on February 29 1992 in Booysens was received 3km away in Doornfontein 17 months later. Some people claim that airmail takes even longer than surface mail – SA report.

The year is 2033. A postman arrives at a Durban house.

Sound effects: Knock, knock.

Voice off: Who’s there?

Postman: It’s the Post Office – the Kiddimail Service – for Mrs van Zyl.

Mrs van Zyl (an elderly woman, half opens the door and, suspiciously, sticks her head around it.): “Yes?”

Postman: Madam, do you remember subscribing to the Post Office’s Kiddimail Service in 2003?

Mrs van Zyl: No. How can I remember that far back?

Postman: It’s only 30 years, ma’m. In postal delivery terms that’s not long at all. May I remind you that you sent for one of our identification stickers with respect to your son Dirk.

Mrs van Zyl (eyes mist over): Dirk! Aaaagh. My dear little Dirk. How I miss him. Aged only two he was. We lived in Germiston then. He was always rushing out of the gate to watch all the robberies and hijackings taking place up and down the street. One day he just never came back. Yes, I remember now. I stuck one of those ID labels in his shoe so that if he ever got lost somebody would pop him in the post. Fat lot of good that did!

Postman: That’s not quite true madam. He was indeed found – wandering about in Dinwiddie. The Post Office posted him to you but got the postal code wrong. He was returned “undelivered”. Then we found you had moved to Durban…

Mrs van Zyl (voice wavering): AaaaaAaaaaAaaaaaeeeg etc.

Postman (adopting apologetic tone): …and the post being what it is…

Mrs van Zyl (suddenly notices postman is carrying a parcel somewhat longer and thicker than himself. This she opens with trembling fingers. Out pops big, bearded Dirk, aged 32, holding a teddy bear. His forehead is covered in registered postmarks dating back to 2003): AaaaAaaaAaaeeegh. (Then querulously…)Why did it take them so long?

Postman: Well, apparently, the second time we sent him by airmail and …

Dirk (happily): Clickety-clack, clickety-clack thump, thump, thump.

Postman: I’m afraid he has spent too much time among the franking machines – he thinks one of them is his mother – he learnt from it how to speak.

Mrs van Zyl: AaaaaAaaaaeeeeee.

Dirk: Click, whirrr. Thump. Thump.

Postman: Well, I must be off. Oh yes, what with inflation being what it is, there’s a R170 500 surcharge to pay because the parcel was under stamped.

Mrs van Zyl digs hand into apron pocket and pays him.

Fade out as Mrs van Zyl re-enters house followed by a man with a bear.

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