This caged pineapple asked me why he was called a pineapple when he was neither a pine nor an apple. I couldn’t answer his question but I did give him a lecture on the idiotic English language and how we take it for granted without knowing why ♥Gretchen Bernet-Ward
“English is a crazy language.
There is no egg in eggplant nor ham in hamburger; neither apple nor pine in pineapple.
English muffins weren’t invented in England or French fries in France.
Sweetmeats are candies while sweetbreads, which aren’t sweet, are meat.
We take English for granted.
But if we explore its paradoxes, we find that quicksand can work slowly, boxing rings are square and a guinea pig is neither from Guinea nor a pig.
Why do writers write but fingers don’t fing, grocers don’t groce and hammers don’t ham?
If the plural of tooth is teeth, why isn’t the plural of booth beeth?
One goose, two geese. So one moose, two meese?
If you have a pile of odds and ends and get rid of all but one of them, what is it called?
If teachers taught, why didn’t preachers praught?
If a vegetarian eats vegetables, what does a humanitarian eat?
Sometimes English speakers should be committed to an asylum for the verbally insane.
In what language do people recite at a play and play at a recital?
Ship by truck and send cargo by ship?
Have noses that run and feet that smell?
How can a slim chance and a fat chance be the same, while a wise man and a wise guy are opposites?
Have you noticed that we talk about certain things only when they are absent?
Have you ever seen a horseful carriage or a strapful gown?
Or met an sung hero who has experienced requited love?
Have you met someone who was combobulated, gruntled, ruly or peccable?
Where are those people who are spring chickens or who would actually hurt a fly?
The lunacy of a language in which your house can burn up as it burns down.
Fill in a form by filling it out, while an alarm goes off by going on.”
Suburban shopping centre covered in moths after drought-breaking rains. Warm humid conditions released flora, fauna and insects which burst forth in a delayed exhibition of springtime in Brisbane.
My apologies if you have ‘Mottephobia’.
INFORMATION : This activity is unusual. Could these small arthropod insects with feelers, six legs and one pair of wings be a Dry Leaf Looper Moth? More at home in leaf-litter under trees? The images shown on the website (below) are similar moths to the ones I have photographed and were found in the Brisbane area, Queensland, Australia.
If you’ve ever been to the circus or a street parade, you will have seen someone walking along high above the crowd on a pair of stilts. To the average person, stilt-walking is the mainstay of theatrical performers, clowns and jugglers and used to great effect in fantasy film and stage productions.
However, stilts (originally wooden) have been used in many industries for many hundreds of years, from ancient shepherding to wall painting, fruit-picking and hedge-trimming to modern construction.
Several websites have histories of the original stilt-walkers, but in the old days if you found yourself living in a flood plain, beside the beach, in marshland or some other area where the ground was less than steadfast, it was a great way to keep safe.
Raised above it all, striding through the landscape with a birds’ eye view, it’s easy to see how they became part of certain countries folklore and historical identity.
I remember as a child, turning round to see the silk-clad legs of a stilt-walker and being quite amazed as I slowly raised my eyes to the performer, a real person no less, teetering high above me.
Apparently ‘Walk on Stilts Day’ is celebrated on 27 July every year
In 2008 Roy Maloy of Australia took five steps on stilts 17m (56ft) high
In 1891 Sylvain Dornon stilt-walked from Paris to Moscow in 58 days
The Golden Stilt is the highest honour in the ancient sport of stilt-jousting
European stilt-walking festivals are held in Spain, Netherlands and Belgium
Canadian ‘Cirque du Soleil’ feature a dazzling array of stilt-walkers
Moko Jumbie is spirit healer stilt-dancing from West Indies
A centuries-old tradition, Chinese stilt-walkers bring good luck
Modern stilt performances by gorgeous Leonie Deavin troupe
Stilts can be ordered online – go for it!
Stilt-walking is corporate business now, far, far removed from those sodden sheep in the marshes, guarded by a lone farmer on stilts with only his trusty sheep dog and knitting to keep him company. Knitting was not gender specific in olden times; hardy men perched atop a pair of wooden stilts could knit a woolly vest while keeping a wary eye out for hungry wolves.
So forget those hole-punched tin cans and pieces of string you manoeuvred to clump up and down the driveway like a robot, stilts have entered the 21st century.
Late last year at Brisbane GenreCon, I said hello to Darren Koziol, mastermind behind Australian comic books DarkOz. His display table was beside ours and I was lured over by the bright yet disturbing cover of the Retro Sci-Fi Tales Christmas Special #1 December 2019. I purchased a copy and three quirky Christmas cards were thrown into the deal.
After chatting to Darren and learning about his creative skills and the help he gives budding comic book creators, I expressed interest in ‘The Comic Book Manifesto: Making Comic Books In Australia’.
Even coming from a non-comic book person like me, I feel this booklet gets to the essence of creating artwork and design and offers inspiration for those interested in furthering their artistic abilities.
It’s a small volume which packs a punch; under the heading Influences & Individuality, Mike Speakman says ‘Seek out advice from your peers, listen to it all, but remember to put your own spin on things.’
It was a week before I managed to fully read my copy of this idiosyncratic Christmas Special but I loved the tall tales and clever retro illustrations. Inside, two wacky characters Bruno and Maggie feature in three comics—the one I particularly liked was ‘Space Elevator’. Original, creepy, humorous with a twist in the alien tale. Being retro, the slant was towards American-style comics but I was pleased to see ‘Great Australian Bight Bite’, short, sweet, deadly.
When I was a kid, the exaggerated reactions and cryptic comments from characters in comic books never really appealed. Like most people, I seem to remember Lee Falk’s ‘The Phantom’ in our daily newspaper alongside the funnies but I think for over ten years Charles Schulz and ‘Peanuts’ blitzed all else for me. Now I have greater respect for the patience, skill and hard work involved in comic book production.
Comic books have come a long way! Or have they? Happily the tradition lives on.
Bushfire devastation across rural Australia, everything and everyone is at risk, rain is desperately needed, it will arrive too late for many, let’s pray many thousands will be spared the burning embers ♥Gretchen Bernet-Ward
Virago is an international publisher of books by women for all readers, everywhere. Established in 1973, their mission has been to champion women’s voices and bring them to the widest possible readership around the world. They found me! From fiction and politics to history and classic children’s stories, their writers continue to win acclaim, break new ground and enrich the lives of readers. That’s me! Read on…
My Goodreads Book Review
Superb anthology of the last forty years of Virago Modern Classics with a gorgeous bookcover illustration. Great for readers who appreciate women writers and also for students studying literature. Each contemporary author writes a sincere and thoughtful introduction from their own perspective as a reader. They cover the classics, from fiction and comedy to famous diaries and autobiographies. For example, Margaret Drabble discusses Jane Austen ‘Pride and Prejudice’ and further on Jilly Cooper talks about E. M. Delafield ‘The Diary of a Provincial Lady’. Although I’ve not read ‘Strangers on a Train’ by Patricia Highsmith, I think Claire Messud has convinced me to read it. At the end of Amanda Craig’s introduction on Rebecca West ‘The Fountain Overflows’ she says ‘The novel is one of those rare books that leaves the reader feeling happier and more hopeful than before.” And that’s exactly what this Virago Modern Classics makes me feel ♥ https://www.goodreads.com/gretchenbernetward
Virago celebrated their fortieth anniversary of Virago Modern Classics, Virago Press published the book I so eagerly purchased ‘Writers as Readers’, an anthology of forty introductions from the last four decades…books that deserve once again to be read and loved. Virago also reintroduced the iconic green spines across their whole booklist.
Virago has a huge booklist, I’m sure you’ve read several of their titles, and rather than me listing every book available, you can visit their beautiful website: https://www.virago.co.uk/
Alighted from the train in Ipswich City with friends and decided to have brunch. We chose Fourchild Cafe Restaurant, 126 Brisbane Street, because it’s handy to the railway station. The business is family owned and operated and they prepare everything by hand, in-house, with produce sourced from Lockyer Valley farms and local suppliers.
Rather than give you a rundown of our visit, I have posted photographs with a comment or two underneath. Bon appétit!
This is Boris the bison, overlooking the bar, keeping a watchful eye on proceedings.
We were in Ipswich to visit ‘The World Turns Modern’ an Art Deco exhibition atIpswich Art Galleryon loan from the National Gallery collection. But more on that another time.
First, some info on Juliet Nearly A Vet children’s series before I launch into my one and a half hour experience hosted by Book Links and Write Linksat their centre for children’s literature.
JULIET NEARLY A VET series by REBECCA JOHNSON
Juliet wants to be a vet when she grows up, but when she decides she needs to start practicing, her wonderful misadventures begin. With gorgeous illustrations by local illustrator Kyla May.
“Hi! I’m Juliet. I’m ten years old. And I’m nearly a vet! We’re off on a school camp to the rainforest. Chelsea, Maisy and I are excited about all the different animals we might spot on our nature walks and torchlight treks. Chelsea is NOT excited about the creepy crawlies we might find! I’ve brought my vet-kit along just in case we find any animals in need of help . . .”
A wonderful series about three smart, funny, animal-loving girls solving mysteries and causing chaos at their country boarding school.
“Abbey, Hannah and Talika are new recruits at Willowvale boarding school’s Vet Cadets program. Mrs Parry, their science teacher, has given each of the girls a chick to raise and train, but not everyone is happy about it! When a game of horseback hide-and-seek turns into a matter of life and death, rules are broken and the friends’ courage sorely tested. This time, a solution might be out of the Vet Cadets’ hands . . .”
Rebecca Johnson is an award-winning Australian author and primary-school science teacher who has written more than 100 children’s books. Her works include the Steve Parish Story Book collection, Juliet Nearly A Vet series, Vet Cadet series, Insect series, and Steve Parish Reptiles & Amphibians Story Book range.
Rebecca Johnson spoke about how she became a published author and what inspired her stories. Her two current series are based on her own childhood experiences, both as a young vet ‘assistant’ and then as a horse-riding teenage animal detective.
Her writing style has allowed her to find the balance between working part-time and writing. She talked about the importance of verbal pitching in the early part of a writer’s career; know your story and speak passionately about it.
Rebecca was open and honest in all she discussed, particularly the challenges of marketing your first book once it has been published. On the subject of payment, royalties and earning a decent income, Rebecca felt a book series worked better.
I jotted down a number of points; from having an agent, to evolving your books as your reading audience grows. Interestingly, in this age of the internet, Rebecca hasn’t physically met Kyla May, her book illustrator.
A fascinating aspect from Rebecca’s talk is her use of a book tie-in and children’s conventions based on her Juliet Nearly A Vet books. She ordered 1,000 vet kits child-size with working stethoscopes and white lab coats—spectacular to say the least. And children obviously have a wonderful time learning about animals and caring for their toy pets!
My main takeaway from this workshop was “Write what you know, do the hard yards, continually promote your books” as well as attending events, libraries, Book Week. I applaud Rebecca Johnson for the detail and length of her workshop, and the fact that she happily answered every question.
A friend of mine, children’s writer Artelle Lenthall, challenged me to nominate 7 of my favourite bookcovers and post one every day for 7 days on Facebook. I have chosen 7 of my favourite bookcovers from Juliet Nearly A Vet series and will post them at 7.00pm each evening.
Yes, fear that I will become addicted. Fear that I will push myself to read a gazillion books a year so I can frantically, faithfully rate and review them. Fear that I will get hooked on groups, authors, discussions, surveys and polls—or even worse, a bestseller—and thus lose my individuality.
What if I was swamped by a wave of literary-ness which swept away my identity and I became a book character, never able to reach the shores of reality, adrift in a choppy sea of font and words, desperately swimming towards the final chapter so I could beach myself on that last blessed page?
It didn’t happen.
I know this because I have finally joined the ranks of Goodreads readers.
Why did I join? Because I was caught, hook, line and sinker by a single author and her book ‘The Rose and The Thorn’.
In August 2019, I posted my very first Goodreads review on Indrani Ganguly’s historical novel (also here on my blog) and the Hallelujah choir sang. That was it!
I think I shelved about twenty books in one hit. Then about thirty, then more, and before I knew it I was writing reviews; albeit after I sussed out their (ssshh, whisper here) rather archaic system.
Without fear, without favour! I am part of Goodreads for better or worse!
So far I have followed a couple of authors I enjoy, and a couple of groups which seem relevant to my reading tastes. I encompass miscellany, similar to my blog, so I am open to your book reading suggestions.
Take a peek, you may find the same book we both have read . . . but will our rating or review be the same?
There are health benefits to your human-animal interactions! Studies suggest that pets are good for your heart and stress levels in more ways than one. Caring for an animal has shown to lower blood pressure and cortisol (stress-related hormone) levels, reduce loneliness and boost your mood.
To find out more, we arrived at University of Queensland Healthy Living headquarters in Toowong at one o’clock for an informative talk from Dr Nancy A. Pachana, clinical geropsychologist and neuropsychologist—and cupcake maker—accompanied by the team from Happy Paws Happy Hearts.
As you would have guessed, the highlight was two adorable and bouncy puppies, Timon and Rafiki, who carried out their pats-and-cuddles duty in admirable fashion. The blurry photos attest to their eagerness.
Happy Paws Happy Hearts foundation offers an Animal Basics Program, Animal Care Program and Animal Handling Program for individuals and groups. Participants learn to interact with a variety of animals waiting to be adopted from RSPCA by using well-established animal interaction methods to increase confidence in both humans and critters.
Depending on the program and availability, interaction could be with puppies, kittens, dogs, cats, wildlife and farm animals. Volunteers support attendees to reach their goals while working with these rescue animals within the shelter.
Research supports dogs and other animals assisting with physical, mental and emotional symptoms as well as supplement therapy for PTSD, anxiety and depression plus a range of psychiatric disorders. They are particularly important for older people.
Over 60% of older community-dwelling adults cited pets as a key source of emotional support, while dog therapy reduced age care residents loneliness and depression as well as improved cognitive impairment in those with dementia. The presence of animals provided avenues for active behaviour, decision-making and increased socialisation in nursing home residents.
Dr Pachana spoke about greater acknowledgement of the positive impact of animals in other contexts, such as the workplace and courtrooms. I have seen encouraging signs in classrooms where children have difficulty with peer activities or reading aloud but respond with a calm dog beside them.
Can Do Canines train shelter dogs for therapy purposes and there are organisations like Guide Dogs, Assistance Dogs, Hearing Dogs, Story Dogs, and of course Happy Paws Happy Hearts doing a wonderful job.
We enjoyed our sociable and informative visit and send a special woof to Timon and Rafiki for being good boys.
It was a nice surprise to discover an older piece of writing I’d forgotten, particularly when it still holds up.
My overview of Fiona McIntosh’s historical fiction “Tapestry” was penned for Top 40 Book Club Reads 2015, a regular Brisbane City Council Library Service booklet written and compiled by unacknowledged library staff.
The book—billed as timeslip fiction—has a layered plot and it was hard to write a 100 word description without sounding too stilted. McIntosh chose settings in two countries, Australia and Britain, in two different eras of history. I particularly liked the second half in 1715 within the Tower of London.
After visiting the Tower of London to research her book, McIntosh had “An unforgettable day and I attribute much of the story’s atmosphere to that marvellous afternoon and evening in the Tower of London with the Dannatts when the tale of Lady Nithsdale and my own Tapestry came alive in my imagination.”
Author Fiona McIntosh has written quite a stack of books set in many parts of the world, and in different genres: Non-Fiction, Historical Romantic-Adventure, Timeslip, Fantasy – Adult, Fantasy – Children, and Crime.
Check your local library catalogue in person or online.
In order of appearance, the Brisbane Libraries Top 40 book club recommendations for 2015—I have not read Poe Ballantine’s chilling tale “Love and Terror on the Howling Plains of Nowhere” and I may never read it—See how many titles you’ve read!
The Visionist; Moriarty; Tapestry; The Bone Clocks; California; Z – Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald; The Mandarin Code; Merciless Gods; Upstairs at the Party; Friendship; Birdsong; Heat and Light; Time and Time Again; What Was Promised; The Austen Project; The Paying Guests; The Exile – An Outlander Graphic Novel; Lost and Found; Amnesia; Cop Town; Mr Mac and Me; Nora Webster; The Girl Who Saved the King of Sweden; Inspector McLean – Dead Men’s Bones; The Soul of Discretion; We Were Liars; Stone Mattress – Nine Tales; Family Secrets; South of Darkness; The Claimant; This House of Grief; She Left Me the Gun; Mona Lisa – A Life Discovered; The Silver Moon; Revolution; Love and Terror on the Howling Plains of Nowhere; What Days Are For; Mistress; Warning – The Story of Cyclone Tracy; The Birth of Korean Cool.
From Brisbane, we head inland to Gatton where we stop for lunch before crossing the fertile vegetable-growing plains of the Lockyer Valley. Our goal is the garden city of Toowoomba, situated in the Darling Downs region of southern Queensland on Australia’s Great Dividing Range.
The gradient is steep and it’s a slow climb up the mountain before we crest the plateau and turn left to Picnic Point lookout. It’s a traditional spot for travellers to stretch their legs and take in the magnificent views which seem to stretch forever into a blue-grey smudge.
After checking into our boutique hotel, we take a short walk into town, passing old homes with steep corrugated iron roofs and interesting turrets and chimneys.
A charming old building in Margaret Street, once a grand home with circular driveway, is available for business lease.
In the city centre, shops and offices are still housed in quaint older-style buildings which seem to go on forever when you are inside.
The Book Tree bookshop is an Aladdin’s cave of books and accessories and a friendly salesperson. The haberdashery store Lincraft is on three levels, basement, middle and top (with creaky wooden floorboards) crammed full of craft-creating supplies and good customer service.
Friendly staff seem to be the theme throughout Toowoomba including the upmarket shopping precinct Grand Central which contains everything the modern shopper has come to expect—plus a book swap library.
The seminar, the reason for our visit, isn’t until next day so we decide to walk through Queens Park Botanic Gardens, bypassing an old steamroller, to visit Cobb & Co Museum. Originally a coach museum in honour of Cobb & Co horse-drawn coaches which ran the length and breadth of Queensland in ye olde days, the museum has been rehoused and now contains a myriad of local and culturally significant items.
We are lucky enough to get a personal guided tour—thank you, Sharon—and learn the ins and outs of the exhibits from coaches to goat carts, blacksmith forge to wooden clothing (photos below) and local Indigenous heritage.
The museum interior meanders like an old country trail with something different around every bend.
I discover that even though male passengers paid full fare, in the olden days they were expected to assist with river crossings, fallen logs, opening and closing stock gates, and to ‘lighten the load’ by walking up hills. What a hardy bunch! We need survivor TV shows to see that level of guts and determination today.
Images below show Chris Mills-Kelly’s delicately carved wooden bonnet, dress and shoes for the Artisans Challenge 2012. It is both fascinating and moving; these small articles represent the clothing Indigenous children were made to wear for photo opportunities, adoption interviews and to impress important visitors, in contrast to their natural birthright.
After a delicious museum lunch with a huge lamington for dessert (below) we wind our way back to the hotel through misty rain.
My brochure reads “Although the famous coaches and tenacious horse teams and drivers are now long gone, Cobb & Co continues to live on in Australian history as the country’s greatest coaching company.”
The Cobb & Co Museum conducts workshops and various events and activities throughout the year. Our museum guide told us the workshops book out quickly. The specialist trades of yesteryear are back in fashion, wheelwright, silversmith, leadlighting, etc. One day I wouldn’t mind trying my hand at kangaroo leather plaiting. It’s a three-day course to make a belt or a whip, so watch this space. Yippee aye yay!
We walked by this gracious old residence, Harris House, every day. At leisure, I explored parks, galleries and cafes. Everybody was ready for a chat. Of course, I checked out the fashion clothing stores. Toowoomba is colder in winter than Brisbane so I ended up buying several long sleeved t-shirts which I wore in layers under my jacket.
So nice to have a change of scene and a change of season.
The world’s best loved insects – butterflies. As soon as I walked into the Bribie Island Butterfly House, a sense of calm enveloped me. Founder Ray Archer says “Butterflies are beautiful and very peaceful insects” and I can attest to that.
This tranquil not-for-profit organisation was founded by Ray and Delphine Archer who sold their business Olive Products Australia and moved to beautiful Bribie Island, off the south-east coast of Queensland, so Ray could devote time to his passion for breeding and raising butterflies.
I’d like to take you on a stroll through the butterflies domain. But first we will learn a few facts from the Nursery before entering their airy, sun-filled, flower-perfumed enclosure.
A LESSON OR TWO ON BUTTERFLIES . . .
A female butterfly may lay between 100 to 200 eggs, and within a week or so a caterpillar will hatch.
A caterpillar breathes through tiny holes in its sides and will eat its own weight in leaf material every day until the final skin is discarded and the chrysalis hardens.
Inside the chrysalis, metamorphosis continues as the butterfly is formed and this can take weeks, months or sometimes years.
When the final stages of the caterpillar are complete, the newly formed adult butterfly will emerge, needing a few hours to dry its wings before taking flight.
Butterflies don’t have a mouth, they use their proboscis like a straw to drink nectar from flowers.
Butterflies have two large compound eyes which offer a wide visual field and extreme colour vision.
The two antennae on a butterfly’s head help with navigation and detecting plant aromas and a prospective mate.
AND THE ONE YOU WILL BE TESTED ON . . .
Butterflies are insects in the macrolepidopteran clade Rhopalocera from the order Lepidoptera.
Ready to go inside? You have to go slow because butterflies don’t dive-bomb you like mosquitoes. Silent wings flutter by, difficult to photograph, I marvel at their fragility.
Photos left to right—Plant-filled entry; a vine chock-full of happy butterflies; misty air rises from a vaporizer; a Common Crow, why that name?; a Swamp Tiger against the blue sky; newly hatched Monarch; oops, there’s two Orchard Swallowtails mating, best move on . . .
NEXT I NOTICED QUIRKY THINGS TUCKED AROUND THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE . . .
Hanging pot planters and gumboots stuffed with plants.
A rather clandestine bubbler and a secret butterfly door.
Inspirational quote and landing pad stocked with nutritious butterfly food.
This lady (below) had to make sure she was butterfly-free before leaving. The butterflies landed on hair and hats. Interestingly, they stayed well clear of the heavy black plastic doors, perhaps because their focus is on light, bright colours.
Before departing I visited the plant section where butterfly-friendly plants (see chart) were available for purchase. There is no cafe and no merchandising, and nobody telling visitors The Rules. The only suggestion is to leave your worries in a bin at the door. Quite a refreshing visit in more ways than one!
The Bribie Island Butterfly House exists to provide a sense of purpose and lasting friendships among their volunteers, to offer visitors an enjoyable and educational visit in a peaceful environment and to help the disadvantaged via donations to charities.
Grow a patch of dandelions! Check out Lyn’s wonderful UK Butterflies And Garden blog. Pledge to stop using manufactured pesticides! Around my area, the green tree frog and butterfly populations have severely decreased due to the rise in toxic garden herbicides and pesticides. Think natural, not noxious!
And, of course, my avatar is a hand-drawn butterfly.
THAT debate rages on. THAT is an overused, unnecessary word, a redundant filler which bulks out your manuscript and changes just about anything into THAT nothingness.
Increasingly, ambiguous THAT is being used instead of ‘who’ and ‘which’ or more descriptive words to introduce a defining clause. This is happening universally in writing today; THAT is slowing and neutralising sentences.
Seven examples where THAT is incorrect or useless, write your own, you get my drift:
She said that it was in her best interest – delete.
They walked down the stairs that are rather grand – use which.
He visits the koala that he sponsors – delete.
Judy thinks Angela is the sort of woman that enjoys tennis – use who.
He assumed that they all wanted to singalong with him – delete.
It takes a minute to realise that Sue is talking – delete.
Tom has to tell her that her dog has been stolen – OK-ish.
A pronoun is a word taking the place of a noun. THAT is a demonstrative pronoun and used in the right context it has a legitimate reason to exist, e.g. ‘That’s a good idea’.
It is perfectly valid when THAT appears in character dialogue, but when a writer indiscriminately uses THAT in other areas of their work, I find it needlessly clunky.
Of course, you can change a passive voice to an active voice, or use the rule ‘Who is a person, THAT is an object’. Remember ‘Who, what, when, where, why’ to help you decide.
On the other hand, there’s always exceptions. Use your own discretion as to where you like or don’t like THAT, and where THAT actually does fit in your sentence. Once you become aware of THAT, you will probably get rid of it unless you use American English.
Read through text or a draft you have written in the last month.
Check for how many time you use the word THAT.
Are you surprised at your usage?
Could you use a more expressive word than THAT?
Could you condense your word count by omitting THAT?
Read a novel or document and watch for THAT exploitation.
The University of Queensland Alumni Book Fair 2019 at St Lucia, Brisbane, had been in full swing for a couple of days before I arrived on the third day. One more day to go with no sign of running out of keen customers or brilliant book bargains.
The Exhibition Hall is huge!
The whole area was filled with tables covered in books of every shape, size, colour and genre. I couldn’t name every section without going cross-eyed but there were technical books, reference books, fiction, non-fiction, and fun stuff like mixed media (including old vinyl records) and cool kids books.
I could say romance novels jostled for position with items such as travel guides and political biographies but everything was grouped in an orderly manner, well marked and easy to access. I was surprised to see numerous large old dictionaries for sale, however, the eclectic poetry section caught my eye. Ooh, Bruce Dawe.
The whole area was spacious, clean and civilised. I expected a few gasps or cries of joy when The One, that perfect addition to a series or a special edition was found and held aloft. But no, basically the customers had their own agendas and moved calmly from book table to book table with carry bags, totally absorbed. By my estimation, I think you could expect to spend about two hours scanning and sifting through the books, more if you wanted to read pages here and there.
Stacks of boxes
In the first photo (above) in the distance you can see a stack of book boxes, then in the second photo you see the book boxes up close. That opened box was about head-height and a volunteer told me those boxes had stretched along the walls, and every day they were emptied. Volunteers in purple t-shirts worked tirelessly the whole time I was there, unpacking, shelving, answering queries, and working at the payment points.
In the adjacent cafeteria (delicious homemade strawberry cake) I displayed some of the haul. You will spy a small red book in the left-hand photo which I have opened in the right-hand photo. The dust-jacket is missing and the previous owner had not liked naughty boy Pierre and scribbled on him in pencil but I love it. After a bit of searching, I found out this little Maurice Sendak volume is one of four, a Nutshell Library boxed set published in 1962 by HarperCollins.
Time to go
On display in the foyer of the Exhibition Hall were enlarged travel images and I couldn’t resist taking a photo of the duck and ducklings. Overall, the synchronicity of UQ Alumni Friends, Members and volunteers created an exceptional event.
Walking back to the bus stop, weighed down with my treasure, the water bubbling through the pipes of this fountain made a relaxing sound so I stopped to admire it.
As I stood there, I thought about the massive amount of books on every subject imaginable which showed how far we have come, and how much of value we have left behind.
On arrival, drinks and nibbles were a nice surprise after travelling by bus along winding streets to UQ Alumni Rare Book Auction. From then onward it was non-stop action from 6pm until 9pm in Fryer Library.
Beforehand, I walked not the ‘hallowed halls’ but the beautiful arched sandstone walkways of the Great Court to the Fryer Library entrance. I caught the lift to the fourth floor where several people were mingling in the foyer beside the bidding registration table. On receiving Number 30, I hoped it was a lucky number.
Lucky number 30
I wandered in to the library, strolled through all the assembled black chairs, and entered the book viewing area. Lighting was subdued but it was easy to see the fascinating array of old books waiting patiently for my frenzied bidding. Not quite frenzied; but to jump ahead, I did offer a bid for a beautiful book, at least I think it is, which started and finished at the same amount, i.e. nobody out-bid me. Shame really because Smith, A. Croxton ‘Tail-Waggers’ Country Life, London, 1935, 147 pp has superbly rendered B&W mounted etchings by Malcolm Nicholson.
Lights, camera, action
After ascertaining if I could take photos, permission granted, I ended up being so entranced by the bidding that I didn’t take many shots. The introductions, welcome and Acknowledgement of Country were conducted (first by university librarian Caroline Williams originally from Nottingham UK) and at 6.45pm, auctioneer Jonathan Blocksidge stood behind the lectern. Game on!
Quickly, keep up
The bidding was fast and Mr Blocksidge kept the pace up, the heat on and the bids rising. There seemed to be some pretty serious collectors and possibly agents in the audience and at times the bids rose in increments so rapidly it was hard to keep track.
The highest bidder
There were absentee bidders and Lot 27 rose above the reserve price. As the night progressed – 146 lots were listed – bidding ‘wars’ occurred, particularly between two people behind me. The jousting for Lot 62, first edition of ‘Human Action: A Treatise on Economics’ made the audience applaud in appreciation. Same for Lot 66 ‘The Natural History of Man’ and Lot 86 James Cook’s ‘A Voyage Towards the South Pole’ which later culminated in Lot 105 Charles Kingsford-Smith’s personally signed copy of ‘Story of Southern Cross’ going for a huge amount.
Regrettably, the star of the show and expected highlight of the evening Lot 146 Gauss (de Brunswick) book ‘Recherches Arithmetiques’ did not meet the hefty reserve price.
The UQ team of staff and volunteers worked tirelessly throughout the evening, quiet yet ready to assist, and I think they did an excellent job. In fact, I have been reliably informed that all of the auction organisers I had contact with are UQ Alumni Friends, Members and volunteers. They were supported by the Fryer Library team (led by Manager, Simon Farley) who organised the chairs, allowed use of the library space, and provided the hospitality pre-event. A success well deserved!
I purchased and collected my precious old book of ‘Tail-Waggers’ and headed out into the cool, calm night.
Stick around for Part Three coming soon, my adventure with books, books and more books. Or better still, visit the UQ Alumni Book Fair yourself!
So excited, I’ve never been to a rare book auction. In fact, I have never been to an auction. It’s not something which cropped up in my everyday life and I must admit from what I’ve seen on television, it can get pretty fast and furious.
There’s always the horror of twitching an eyebrow and accidentally bidding for a hugely expensive volume of poetry, the only book of its kind in the world, which has to stay in a glass case. Well, not exactly, but you get the idea.
Last month, I attended a talk at University of Queensland’s Long Pocket Campus, home of the University of Queensland Press, or UQP as it is fondly known, the oldest independent publishing house in Australia with an illustrious stable of authors. I browsed some of the newly published books on offer, grabbed a coffee and sat with other attendees to absorb an informative talk from the Publishing Director, right down to choosing bookcovers.
We broke for a tasty lunch then listened to the ins-and-outs of publishing publicity, Selling The Brand. Another world really but invaluable knowledge for a writer. Our group participated in a Q&A quiz about books and authors. I threw up my hand and answered correctly, winning myself a new novel ‘The Geography of Friendship’ by Sally Piper which I will read and review.
DOWN A HILL AND UP A HILL . . .
Afterwards, we all trooped outside, down a hill and up a hill through the lush native gardens to where the Archives live. Amongst the thousands of new and used books donated every year, there are rare and valuable tomes, well-kept considering their age. On the shelving, behold every genre, every topic, every format imaginable. And nearly every item in the Junior Section held nostalgia for me. It is here I learned about the UQ Alumni Rare Book Auction 6pm on Friday 3 May 2019.
Photographed in the archives at University of Queensland, this magazine and many rare books will be auctioned in Fryer Library on Friday 3 May 2019 at 6pm.
BROWSE AND BUY – TAKE A TROLLEY – BOOK VOLUNTEERS WELCOME
I will have to leave you hanging, dear reader, because I will write Part Two when I’ve actually been to the Rare Book Auction in Fryer Library which itself is full of literary treasures. See you there?
The agony of writing a synopsis! For writers who find it hard to chop their synopsis down to size, this video from Nicola, senior editor of HarperCollins Publishers, steps us through a seamless 500 word synopsis. It will grab that attention your manuscript deserves. And, yes, a synopsis does include plot spoilers.
Read why the first page of a manuscript is so important. Anna Valdinger, HarperCollins commercial fiction publisher knows – she reads a tonne of submissions every year.
Click Importance of Manuscript First Page
The Banjo Prize
HarperCollins is Australia’s oldest publisher and The Banjo Prize is named after Banjo Paterson, Australia’s first bestselling author and poet. His first collection of poems The Man from Snowy River and Other Verses was published in 1895. Who’s up for 2019?
The Banjo Prize is annual and open to all Australian writers of fiction, offering the chance to win a publishing contract with HarperCollins and an advance of AU$15,000. Submit entries via HarperCollins website. Entries opened 25 March 2019 and close 5pm AEST on Friday 24 May 2019. Good luck!