• 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.

We must keep our heads down

An international team of scientists is persisting in trying to connect with aliens living in outer space. This week the Seti team in California (Seti meaning “the Search for Extra-terrestrial Intelligence”) announced it would carry on trying to make contact with Aliens despite calls for caution.
The “Alien-hunt facility” has almost 400 signal-detecting dishes in the mountains northeast of San Francisco.
It can transmit into deep space and receive signals.
The question is: what happens if we receive an intelligent message?
The astrophysicists have agreed on one thing: “Don’t answer it!”
They prescribe that “no response should be sent until appropriate international consultations have taken place.”
This decision comes as a great relief to me. The last thing I would want is for Planet Earth to attract the attention of some giant planet which might then send a double-decker space bus filled with lizard-men 70m high in their stockinged feet who come tramping all over us as if we were ants as they search for the intelligent life that replied to their transmissions.
Since space probing by radio waves began in 1959 the most intelligent signal received has been from an electronically operated garage door.
An international team discused how to respond to it for four days.
Ever since scientists set up Seti I have pleaded for Seti to rather go for a KOHDASU policy (Keep Our Heads Down and Shut Up). This is because I fear that if there is intelligent life out there its creatures might be bigger, meaner and greedier than us earthlings. And the last thing we want to do is attract their attention.
They might harvest us to extinction just as we have done to various species on our own planet.
They might collect us in bags for sale in open air markets on Planet Zug selling us by the scoop like loose nuts.
They might carry our skyscrapers and railway trains back with them for their mountain-sized kids to play with – after shaking out all the wriggling little occupants.
Or they might be cold, slimy, smelly creatures who take a shine to us and with hearts overflowing with affection crawl into our beds at night eager for warmth and company.
The one ray of hope in all this is that if we do receive a signal it will probably be millions of years old. This is because if there is indeed life out there it will be on a planet zillions of light years away.
On the other hand what’s to say they can’t travel a million times faster than light or send remote giant controlled vacuum cleaners to suck up and bring home little samples of distant planets – little samples such as London or New York?

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