Jun 17


God only knows when I started writing things down. On scraps of paper, the edge of newspapers, on anything that was handy. I’d misplace them long before I read what was so important at the time. Things had to change.

I took notes on my first trip abroad. I left my job as a reporter with a medium-sized daily newspaper to spend four months in Europe. I tucked a cheap, lined notebook away in my luggage. It was held together by a spiral of wire.

I added several ballpoint pens and left it at that. Oh, and I bought a map/book of Europe that held sections of the countries so we didn’t have to unfold a whole blooming map-fills-all to see where you were. First stop on the Atlantic crossing was Le Havre. I marked it down with the date, as I would do with the whole trip.

I also began jotting down what interested me about the places and people we visited. Descriptions, off-beat facts. And odd things, like the bridge at Avignon that stops halfway across the Rhone. My buddy introduced ourselves to anyone who’d talk to us. Or give us directions. He’d I’m say I’m Barney Clarke and he’s Clarke Wallace. We would get a smile , a nod and the inevitable reply, “Oh, you’re brothers!”

On returning home, I got an assortment of different notebooks to suit my needs. I ended up with the same kind for years. It’s a Blueline with Memo printed on the cover. Lined. Bound, so you couldn’t easily rip out one of its one hundred pages. I put the date on its first and unlined page followed by a dash and the date when it was full.

Have I ever used what I’ve written down? As research? In Steamboat Springs, Colorado, I wrote notes while watchin, and tracking a guy sailing down a 90m ski jump, cornering him later to ask how it felt, in detail. What I learned was used in a thriller, when a character was shot and killed as his skis left the ski jump.

Another occasion was driving back and forth through the Mont Blanc tu connecting France and Italy. I did this several times, using it as a killing ground.

Author’s comment: I’m not suggesting you take a notebook around with you. It helps you be more observant; more aware of what’s going on around you. Glance at a stranger and moments later repeat what they wore, the eye color. The odd mannerism. I guess you’d call it people-watching up close. Practice, and you’ll do it without thinking.

Posted on June 17th, 2018 by Clarke
Jun 10


I’m angry. I’ll be damned if I’ll take anyone being a real jerk like President Donald Trump insulting our country’s prime minister. Especially on Canadian turf. What is it with that guy? Smiling and joking when sitting for a two-shot at the recent G7 Summit in La Malbaie, Québec.

What can you do with a president who insults others on his twitter account, but when talking one on one as if they were buddies, then later lashing out when surrounded only by the media? Just because Trudeau says he won’t be pushed around? Good for him.

Calling our Prime Minister ‘meek and mild,’ ‘dishonest and weak’. This came in two angry tweets as he climbed aboard his jet to fly to Singapore for his Tuesday meeting with Kim Jong Un of North Korea. Trump was even late for the first Saturday morning meeting with members of the G7 group; a meeting which had already started. A calculated lateness to be sure.

What the hell is it with this guy? He lies. Although Toronto Star Washington correspondent Daniel Dale put a light spin on it when he, Dale, who fact-checks everything Trump says as ‘false claims’.

Dale doesn’t think lies be used for every one of Trumps ‘false statements’. Or ‘being wrong’ intentionally. Dale insists choosing our terminology like ‘lie’ ‘false claim’ ‘falsehood’, ‘misleading’ on a case by case basis.

Author’s comment: I dislike bringing up politics. Though sometimes it’s necessary. Like now. Nor do I understand how someone like Trump can be such a badass dude in so many ways. Yet we sit on our hands when on his first visit to Canada, he verbally insults in the media our Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. So there you &*$#@!. Take that!

Posted on June 10th, 2018 by Clarke