Thursday, October 29, 2009

Riddle me this

From the moment I arrived here in foggy, windswept, beautiful Cornwall, I had one phrase swirling around in my head.

"As I was going to St. Ives/I met a man with seven wives..."

That's because the real St. Ives (also see: skin product) is about 15 miles from where I'm staying, in Penzance (also see: Gilbert & Sullivan, "Pirates of"),

For the first several days I thought I was going crazy. I had no idea where I'd heard that phrase before, and I didn't know the rest of the rhyme (although I was pretty sure there was more of it.) Finally, I resorted to the internet, and because we pretty much live in a Hive Mind society these days, a simple 30 second search got me the following:

As I was going to St Ives
I met a man with seven wives
Each wife had seven sacks
Each sack had seven cats
Each cat had seven kits
Kits, cats, sacks, wives
How many were going to St Ives?
I have no idea where I would have heard this rhyme, but I can imagine it was probably a nursery rhyme I learned (the Brits here would say "learnt") some 20 years ago that was floating around waiting to be rediscovered a decade or two later. The brain's capacity for memory is occasionally astounding.

By the way, can you figure out the answer to the riddle?

1 comment:

Marcel said...

hey alissa,

i stumbled upon your blog on couchsurfing. thats quite a journey you're on... hats off.

your riddle there is in fact an old english childrens rhyme (as i read on wikipedia). but the first time i encountered it was in the movie "die hard - with a vengeance". its one of the villian's game for bruce "mclane" willis. samuel l jackson solves it in the movie saying that only the guy telling this rhyme is actually going to st. ives (first line). all the others he just met on the way.

by chance they played the 4th series of die hard on tv today :)

anyway, happy travelling!