Good Reading : July 2008
Counting in sevens Judith Wright Seven ones are seven. I can’t remember that year or what presents I was given. Seven twos are fourteen. That year I found my mind, swore not to be what I had been. Seven threes are twenty-one. I was sailing my own sea, first in love, the knots undone. Seven fours are twenty-eight; three false starts had come and gone; my true love came, and not too late. Seven fives are thirty-five. In her cot my daughter lay, real, miraculous, alive. Seven sixes are forty-two. I packed her sandwiches for school, I loved my love and time came true. Seven sevens are forty-nine. Fruit loaded down my apple-tree, near fifty years of life were mine. Seven eights are fifty-six. My lips still cold from a last kiss, my fire was ash and charcoal-sticks. Seven nines are sixty-three; seven tens are seventy. Who would that old woman be? She will remember being me, but what she is I cannot see. Yet with every added seven, some strange present I was given. Reproduced with permission from A Human Pattern: Selected Poems (ETT Imprint, Sydney). book trivia Talking Aussie Winter just wouldn’t be winter without uggies. When was the last time you chucked a tanty? How’s the reno going? Do you don your lollybags when you go for a swim down the beach? Have you ever been mad as a gumtree full of galahs or felt crook as Rookwood? You gotta love Aussie slang and the updated, fifth edition of Professor G A Wilkes’s famous dictionary, first published in 1978, has over 300 colourful new additions reflecting the most recent changes to our language. Over 900 existing entries have also been updated. Stunned Mullets & Two-pot Screamers: A dictionary of Australian colloquialisms by G A Wilkes is published by Oxford University Press, rrp $45.00. Fancy a Coffee With? Have you ever thought how great it would be to sit down and have a coffee with one of the world’s greatest thinkers? In this delightful little series dramatised biographies are brought to you through imaginary conversations presented in a themed Q & A format. Did Mark Twain believe in God and Satan and what were his thoughts about race and slavery? Did Charles Dickens ever think of becoming an actor? Did he like living abroad and how did he find his book titles? How did Shakespeare choose the subjects for his plays and what did he like to read? You can also have a chat with the likes of Aristotle, Einstein and Isaac Newton. Coffee with Dickens by Paul Schlicke, Coffee with Shakespeare by Stanley Wells and Coffee with Mark Twain by Fred Kaplan are published by Duncan Baird, rrp $16.95 each. Happy Birthday to Us! How did we come to think of 7 as a lucky number? As gr celebrates its seventh birthday, we take a glance at the origins of this seemingly auspicious numeral. Apparently the whole thing came about through an error a long time ago when ancient astronomers incorrectly recognised seven ‘planets’ by including the sun and the moon in the count.The early Greeks and Pythagoreans saw 4 and 3, two significant numbers combined in 7 thus making it doubly divine. Examples of how 7 became to be seen as mystic and sacred include ‘taking an oath on the 7’ which meant an oath taken on the number 7 made it a ceremony which was forever binding and its truth unquestionable.There are seven wonders of the world, the Greeks had their seven sages and Rome was built on seven hills. Noah is said to have taken seven animals of each species into the Ark. The seventh child of a seventh child supposedly had psychic power and it took seven days for a leper to be ritually purified.Taking all this into account, gr is nevertheless thrilled to be turning 7. The information about the number 7 comes from The Book of Beginnings: A miscellany of the origins of superstitions, customs, phrases and sayings by Dr R and L Brasch, published by ABC Books, rrp $89.95.