jest (vb)
He jests at scars that never felt a wound.
William Shakespeare (1564-1616), ‘Romeo and Juliet’
Mortar fire in Afghanistan. By Sgt Rupert Frere RLC, via Wikimedia Commons. Licence: Public domain.
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a celebration in music, word games and two-minute tales
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Two-minute tales from history, myth and fiction, accompanied by word games, grammar games and writing practice, all based on traditional school textbooks.

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Glorious John
Music: Johann Baptist Cramer
JB Cramer was one of the finest pianists of his day, though his reverence for Mozart made his own music more popular in the drawing room than the concert hall.

BY 1784, thirteen-year-old Johann Baptist Cramer was such a naturally gifted pianist that Muzio Clementi, his distinguished teacher, performed a duet with him in public. Four years later, Johann toured Europe, and again in 1799, attracting the notice of both Haydn and Beethoven, who declared him the finest pianist of the day.

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Six Posts
By the Toss of a Coin
Music: Thomas Erskine, 6th Earl of Kellie
The Master and his brother Henry must decide which of them goes to fight for Bonnie Prince Charlie.
By Robert Louis Stevenson
(1850-1894)

“WHEN very obstinate folk are met, there are only two ways out: Blows — and I think none of us could care to go so far; or the arbitrament of chance — and here is a guinea piece. Will you stand by the toss of the coin?”

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The Battle of Agincourt
Music: Sir William Walton
One of the best-known of all battles in English history, but not because of the conflict of which it was a part.

IN 1340, Edward III was persuaded by his Flemish allies to assume the title of ‘King of France’, precipitating the Hundred Years’ War. Initial success gave way to a truce in 1396, and in 1415 the young Dauphin, Charles, impatiently demanded that Henry V renounce his great-grandfather’s claims, or come over and prove them in battle.

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John Harrison’s Marine Chronometer
Music: Johann Christian Bach
When Harrison won the Longitude Prize, fair and square, Parliament wouldn’t pay up.

IN their day, John Harrison’s innovative clocks were perhaps the most precise in the world.

But his greatest achievement was a watch that could keep accurate time on long sea-journeys, such as Britain’s trade empire depended on.

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Out of Touch
Music: Francesco Geminiani
William Pitt the Elder berates Parliament for treating the public like know-nothings.
By William Pitt the Elder
(1708-1778)

MY lords, I myself am one of the people. I myself am by birth an English elector, and join with the freeholders of England as in a common cause. Believe me, my lords, we mistake our real interest as much as our duty, when we separate ourselves from the mass of the people.

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The Judgment of Solomon
Music: Richard Jones
The tenth-century King of Israel demonstrated his legendary wisdom in a delicate custody battle.

SOON after he was crowned King of Israel, two women appeared before Solomon, asking him to judge their case.

They were prostitutes who lived in the same house, and both had given birth within days of each other. According to one, the other had very craftily swapped babies after finding that her own had died in the night.

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The Bishop’s Gambit
Music: Nikolai Medtner
The mayor and bishop of Zakynthos went to extraordinary lengths to protect the most vulnerable people of their island.

IT was in December 1943 that the anxious mayor of Zakynthos, Lukas Karrer, came to ask Bishop Chrysostom’s advice.

The Nazi commandant had given him seventy-two hours to compile a list of all the Jews of the island, a distasteful task as Karrer guessed that they would go to the Polish concentration camps.

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AZ Index

See a complete A-Z List of all the stories on this website.

Featured Topic
Tagged ‘The Great War’ (13 posts)
page 1
1 Germany’s Secret Weapon
By Sir Winston S. Churchill
(1874-1965)
As a last, desperate throw of the dice in the Great War, the Germans detonated an unusual kind of weapon in St Petersburg.
2 Mr Ivery Gets Away
By John Buchan
(1875-1940)
Richard Hannay tracks a German spy down to a French château, but Hannay’s sense of fair play gives his enemy a chance.
3 Captain Charles Fryatt
A civilian ferry captain was court-martialled by the Germans for thumbing his nose at their U-Boats.
4 Collateral Damage
By John Buchan
(1875-1940)
Richard Hannay reflects on the innocent lives lost, when the lust for power or the desire for revenge makes us less than human.
5 Max Woosnam
Max fully deserves his reputation as England’s greatest all-round sportsman.
6 Kindergarten Politics
By John Buchan
(1875-1940)
John Buchan didn’t think much of our ‘new manners’ in foreign policy during the 1920s.
page 2
7 The Outbreak of the Great War
Germany felt she had a right to an empire like Britain’s, and she was willing to get it at the expense of her neighbours.
8 The Battle of Jutland
Preventing the German fleet from breaking out into the Atlantic in 1916 should have felt like victory, but it felt like defeat.
9 The Summons Comes for Mr Standfast
By John Buchan
(1875-1940)
In John Buchan’s story about the Great War, Richard Hannay must watch as his friend sacrifices his life for the Allies.
10 The Battle of the Somme
A British victory at tragic cost, in which both sides had to learn a new way of fighting.
11 Lawrence of Arabia
TE Lawrence persuaded Arab rebels to help overthrow the Ottoman Empire, but could not give them the independent Kingdom they craved.
12 Kipling and ‘Agamemnon’
Both Rudyard Kipling and the Royal Navy saw Greek sovereignty as a universal symbol of freedom.
page 3
13 Armistice Day
Armistice Day is the anniversary of the end of the First World War on the 11th of November, 1918.
which is ‘English Style’ ?

Word Play: Active or Passive?

Use each of the verbs below in either the active or the passive form. Can you use both forms?

Find. Live. Like.

JB Cramer was one of the finest pianists of his day, though his reverence for Mozart made his own music more popular in the drawing room than the concert hall.
By Percy Bysshe Shelley
(1792-1822)
Poet Percy Bysshe Shelley says that the pinnacle of political achievement is the government not of others, but of ourselves.
By John Keats
(1795-1821)
Poet John Keats speaks of the beauties of Autumn, her colours, her sounds and her rich harvest.
By Percy Bysshe Shelley
(1792-1822)
Poet Percy Shelley calls on November’s sister months to watch by the graveside of the dead Year.
Cut
Make as many words as you can from the letters of a nine-letter word.
Make as many words as you can from the letters of a nine-letter word.
Make as many words as you can from the letters of a nine-letter word.
Make as many words as you can from the letters of a nine-letter word.
Polyword ‘Rune’
Make as many words as you can with the letters below. All your words must be at least four letters long, and must also include the highlighted letter. What’s the nine-letter word?

SEE how many words you can make using the letters below. All your words must be at least 4 letters long, and must include the letter (change).

We found commonly used words, plus one 9-letter word. Can you do better?

Use each letter only once. But if there are e.g. two As, you can used them both.

Don’t count proper nouns such as April, Zeus, or Newcastle (pretty much anything that has to be spelled with a capital letter at the start), or acronyms like HMRC.

Don’t just add -S for plurals or third person singular verbs, e.g. CAT → CATS or SPEAK → SPEAKS.

Note: You can find more Polywords and other games on our Nine Lives puzzle page, and most of our stories are accompanied by games with words, grammar and numbers.

More Puzzles
Do you know ‘bashful’ (3), and ‘an open area of shrubs and coarse grass’ (5)?
Find the magic letter that can change three words into three different ones.
Find the magic letter that can change three words into three different ones.
Changing one letter at a time, see if you can start with ASH and finish with OAK.
Find the magic letter that can change three words into three different ones.
See if you can guess these words letter-by-letter.
A word-making and word-searching game with a dash of strategy to it.
top topics
History (379)
Fiction (82)

letters game

What is the longest word you can make using these letters?

Press enter or type a space to see feedback on your word.

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numbers game

Work across from the number on the left, applying each arithmetical operation to the previous answer. What’s the final total?

Tip: Click any of the four inner squares to check your running total.

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