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Reviewed by Heathar Chapman

BUYERS OF old furni- ture and antiques are likely to shy away from a piece of furniture with borer holes in it. There's always that horrid thought that it will suddenly collapse

right before your eyes. But according to Terry Ingram's "A QUESTION OF POLISH'' (Collins $19.95) "overseas fake merchants" are not above sticking borer holes into phoney antiques to make them look genuine.

"A Question of Polish" is a detailed look at antiques in Australia written in a somewhat lofty "We-Poms-Know Everything" style that is quite irritating - probably intentionally.

And so we read this sort of thing: "The undiscriminating Australian mar- ket place has been a big dumping ground for tarted-up antique silver, especially scraps by the few named smiths known to Australian collectors: "Down Under," where everything is upside down and back to front, what should be serving as an umbrella stand is more likely to be locked away in a vitrine as a priceless treasure."

Fellow colonials, irritated, like me, to the point of wishing to bop Mr Ingram on his patronizing skull with a tarted-up silver candlestick, might be pleased to discover what appears to be at least two errors in his book.

The author says cuckoo clocks were invented by the Swiss but according to Cedric Jagger's "The World's Great Clocks and Watches" that I reviewed here last year, they were first made by peasants in Germany's Black Forest.

In the index (which is, perhaps, not the fault of the author), the late poet Kenneth Slessor is called "Sir Kenneth." lt's a nice idea but my records show he never made it.

But I found the book interesting and entertaining and there are lots of names in it, so it will certainly sell well even if only to those dozens of people men- tioned - people like John Laws, Leslie Walford, John Williams, Anne Schofield and Uncle Tom Cobley and all.

THE RISING tide of public disgust with the killing of baby harp seals in Canada con- tinues to swell and the latest book on the sub-

ject is "SEAL SONG" (Allen Lane $17.95, paperback $6.96) by Brian Davies with photos by Eliot Porter.

They tell the story of the seals and their habits and spare us terrible pictures of baby seals bludgeoned and then skinned alive. Instead, the pictures are so beguiling they make you want to reach out and cuddie the little seals as

they sun themselves on the ice or just stare into the camera with their big sad


Davies' description of these charm- ing creatures is worth quoting: "The inch-long hair that covers the young animal's skin looks like an explosion of gossamer, or the white puff of a dandelion." A delightful book.

The Beaufort


THE BEAUFORT sis- ters were rich but not

given to ostentation. Nina, for instance al- ways bought a Rolls,

but made sure it was a black one so no one would notice it and her chauffeur had instruc- tions not to be arro-

gant in traffic.

Jon deary's new novel "THE BEAUFORT SISTERS"

(Collins $12.95) is a long, wordy, family epic and people who like that sort of thing will be able to wallow to their

heart's content in the lives of the four

sisters - Nina, Margaret, Sally and Pru.

The book grabs the interest quickly when Cleary describes the four sisters - rich Kansas City matrons - watching a young Australian tennis champion playing in a competition.

With an eye no doubt on the Rolls, this sensible lad confronts Nina and says "Mummy, I'm your missing boy" or

words to that effect.

This is the signal for Cleary to go into

instant flashback and he deals with the difficult mechanics of such a long look backwards by labelling the chapters

with the names of the sisters featured.

I personally grew very tired very fast with the four sisters, their money, their lovers, their neuroses, their husbands and their difficult parents, but I was probably put off from the start by that reference to Kansas City.

I've been permanently prejudiced against the place since that revolting song assured us everything was up to date there. Now if Cleary had made them rich New Yorkers I may have liked the

sisters better.

But all that aside, I must say I like the slick Cleary writing: "A woman is never better framed than when in the doorway of a bank in which she is a major stockholder."