All Posts (649)
Nos 171 to 180
Sir John Blackwood McEwen
Lives of the Saints
St Cuthbert and the Phantom Fire
The Northumbrian saint warned of an enemy who would stop at nothing to silence the good news.

CUTHBERT was once addressing a crowd gathered in the street of a small Northumbrian village, when he broke off in mid flow to say:

‘Whatever happens, never let yourselves be distracted by the devil’s trickery.’

Continue reading
No. 171
Charles Villiers Stanford
Extracts from Literature
Marooned!
Jim Hawkins, on a remote desert island, has escaped pirates only to be caught by a shadowy figure among the trees.
By Robert Louis Stevenson
(1850-1894)

“WHO are you?” I asked.

“Ben Gunn,” he answered, and his voice sounded hoarse and awkward, like a rusty lock. “I’m poor Ben Gunn, I am; and I haven’t spoke with a Christian these three years.”

Continue reading
No. 172
Sir George Macfarren
Discovery and Invention
India’s First Railway
The opening of the Bombay to Thane line was the real beginning of British India.

AT 3.30pm on April 16th, 1853, as the band played ‘God Save the Queen’, fourteen railway carriages carrying four hundred VIPs jolted, and left Bombay for Thane. It was the opening day of the Great Indian Peninsular Railway, India’s first passenger-carrying line, and ahead were twenty-one miles of 5'6" track, which the triple-headed train gobbled up in forty-five minutes.

Continue reading
No. 173
Frank Bridge
Discovery and Invention
Britain’s Best Gift to India
Samuel Smiles reminds us that until we brought the railways to India, we had little to boast about as an imperial power.
By Samuel Smiles
(1812-1904)

WHEN Edmund Burke, in 1783, arraigned the British Government for their neglect of India, he said: “England has built no bridges, made no high roads, cut no navigations, dug out no reservoirs... Were we to be driven out of India this day, nothing would remain to tell that it had been possessed, during the inglorious period of our dominion, by anything better than the ourang-outang or the tiger.” But that reproach no longer exists.

Continue reading
No. 174
2 two-part story
George Frideric Handel
Tales from the Bible
The History of Susannah
A young Jewish woman in ancient Babylon falls victim to a heartless conspiracy.

IN the days when Daniel lived in Babylon, a wealthy Jewish man named Joachim had a lovely young wife named Susannah. The Jews of Babylon often visited the couple’s gracious home and garden, and when two new Babylonian judges were appointed, they held court sessions there.

Continue reading
No. 175
John Hebden
Modern History
The Battle of Flamborough Head
An American revolutionary harassed British commercial shipping off the Yorkshire coast, with mixed results.

IN September 1779, John Paul Jones, a commander in the American Continental Navy, led a makeshift flotilla of French ships around Scotland and down into the North Sea, harassing commercial shipping as far as Bridlington.

Continue reading
No. 176
Charles Villiers Stanford
Liberty and Prosperity
Life’s Infantry
However obscure a man may apparently be, his example to others inevitably shapes the future of his country.
By Samuel Smiles
(1812-1904)

THOUGH only the generals’ names may be remembered in the history of any great campaign, it has been in a great measure through the individual valour and heroism of the privates that victories have been won.

Continue reading
No. 177
2 two-part story
Albert Ketèlbey
Stories in Short
Persian Treasures
‘Be careful what you wish for’, they say, and there could be no more endearing example.
By Edith Nesbit
(1858-1924)

‘MY hat!’ Cyril remarked. ‘I never thought about its being a PERSIAN carpet.’

Yet it was now plain that it was so, for the beautiful objects which it had brought back were cats — Persian cats, grey Persian cats, and there were, as I have said, 199 of them, and they were sitting on the carpet as close as they could get to each other.

Continue reading
No. 178
2 two-part story
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Discovery and Invention
Alan Blumlein
Railway enthusiast, music lover, and the man who gave us stereo sound.

IN 1935 Alan Blumlein, an avid railway enthusiast, made a five-minute film of trains running through Hayes in Middlesex.

There was a serious purpose to Blumlein’s subject. A maddening feature of early talkies was that as actors moved around the screen, the sound of their voices and movements appeared rooted to one spot.

Continue reading
No. 179
2 two-part story
Gustav Holst
Extracts from Literature
Tom and Terrier
A fox terrier spies what looks like a hapless victim – until he gets up close.
By Jerome K. Jerome
(1859-1927)

HALF-way up the High Street a cat darted out from one of the houses in front of us, and began to trot across the road. Montmorency gave a cry of joy — the cry of a stern warrior who sees his enemy given over to his hands — the sort of cry Cromwell might have uttered when the Scots came down the hill — and flew after his prey.

Continue reading
No. 180
Polywords (182)
Make as many words as you can from the letters of a nine-letter word.
Latest: Path
Added on Monday December 11th, 2017
Doublets (34)
Turn one word into another, changing just one letter each time.
Latest: Stardust
Quickwords (46)
A mini-crossword of everyday vocabulary and general knowledge.
Triplets (23)
Find one common letter that will turn three words into three new ones.
Latest: Triplet No. 23
Guess these words letter by letter – before the cats are gone!
See how ingenious you can be in combining three randomly chosen words in one sentence.
Compose sentences showing the difference in meaning, grammar or usage between these words.
Practise your basic arithmetic, from multiplation tables to percentages.
Latest: Target Number
Take command of English grammar and composition with these traditional exercises.
Latest: Letters Game
A word search game with a dash of strategy.
Today in History
1878 The death of Alfred Bird, Birmingham pharmacist and confectioner
From our Archive
There was one form of power that self-taught engineering genius George Stephenson never harnessed.
How the cricketing rivalry between England and Australia got its name.
In a translation from the Authorised Version of the Bible, published in 1611, St Mark recounts the discovery of Christ’s empty tomb.
By Samuel Smiles
(1812-1904)
The colourful Foreign Secretary humbly accepted a lesson in manners from a local tradesman.
The unsung surveyor from Cheshire, who built railways and made friends across the world.

A to Z Index

Top Topics
History (394)
Polywords (182)
Georgian Era (107)
Fiction (84)
Quickwords (46)
Doublets (34)
Triplets (23)
Railways (23)
Stuart Era (16)
Adam Smith (10)
Polyword ‘Gape’
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.

More Word Games
A word search game with a dash of strategy.
Guess these words letter by letter – before the cats are gone!
Do you know ‘cleansing bar’ (4 letters), and ‘Doncaster horse-race’ (2,5 letters)?
Changing one letter at a time, see if you can start with NEAT and finish with TIDY.
Find the magic letter that can change three words into three different ones.