All Posts (649)
Nos 181 to 190
2 two-part story
Charles Villiers Stanford
Greek and Roman Myths
The Tragedy of King Oedipus
Oedipus flees home in an attempt to escape a dreadful prophecy, unware that it is following at his heels.

WHEN Laius, King of Thebes, heard it foretold that his baby son would grow up to kill his father and marry his mother, he ordered that he be left outside to die. But a tender-hearted courtier entrusted the baby to a shepherd and his wife instead.

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No. 181
2 two-part story
Alexei Fyodorovich Lvov and Maxim Berezovsky
Lives of the Saints
St Ahmed
A Turkish official was itching to know the secret behind a Russian slave girl’s personal charm.

AHMED was a curator of the library in seventeenth-century Constantinople. He had two Russian slave women, one a beautiful young girl whom he kept at home, and the other an older lady he allowed to go to church.

When she returned, Ahmed noticed, the two women would be closeted together for a time, and afterwards a delightful fragrance would hang around the younger one.

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No. 182
George Frideric Handel
Poets and Poetry
‘The Nightingale and the Glow Worm’
A kind of Aesop’s Fable in verse, about mutual respect among those with different talents.
By William Cowper
(1731-1800)

A NIGHTINGALE, that all day long
Had cheered the village with his song,
Nor yet at eve his note suspended,
Nor yet when eventide was ended,
Began to feel, as well he might,
The keen demands of appetite

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No. 183
George Frideric Handel
Poets and Poetry
‘Recessional’
A heartfelt plea for humility at the height of Britain’s Empire.
By Rudyard Kipling
(1865-1936)

GOD of our fathers, known of old —
Lord of our far-flung battle-line —
Beneath whose awful Hand we hold
Dominion over palm and pine —
Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet,
Lest we forget — lest we forget!

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No. 184
2 two-part story
Charles Villiers Stanford
Stories in Short
King Solomon’s Mines
Allan Quartermain goes in search of a lost tourist and a legendary hoard of diamonds.
Based on the novel by Sir Henry Rider Haggard
(1865-1936)

AFTER George Curtis went missing in South Africa, his brother Sir Henry engaged grizzled hunter Allan Quartermain to find him. George was last seen heading for Solomon’s Mines, twin peaks forty leagues north of the Kafue River — supposedly the Biblical Ophir, source of the ancient King of Israel’s fabulous wealth.

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No. 185
George Frideric Handel
Lives of the Saints
Redeemed for Five Shillings
Elfric, the tenth-century English abbot, suggests a practical way of thinking about the Presentation of Christ in the Temple.
By Elfric of Eynsham
(955-1010)

GOD, in the old law, commanded his people, that they should offer to him every firstborn male child, or redeem it with five shillings. Of their cattle also, to bring whatever was firstborn to God’s house, and there offer it to God. But if it were an unclean beast, then should the master slay it, or give to God another clean beast.

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No. 186
Sergei Rachmaninoff
Lives of the Saints
Candlemas
A February celebration for which the faithful have brought candles to church since Anglo-Saxon times.

CANDLEMAS is the English name for the Feast of the Presentation of Christ in the Temple, acknowledging the ancient custom of distributing lighted candles to churchgoers on that day.

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No. 187
2 two-part story
George Frideric Handel
Biblical History
The Jerusalem Temple
The story of the once magnificent Temple in Jerusalem, the city God chose for Israel’s capital.

THE first Temple in Jerusalem was founded in 957 BC upon a hill in the heart of his capital by King Solomon, son of the legendary King David, and painstakingly patterned after a heavenly sanctuary glimpsed by Moses himself on the cloud-capped summit of Mount Sinai some three hundred years before.

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No. 188
2 two-part story
Jan Ladislav Dussek
Discovery and Invention
The Story of ‘Charlotte Dundas’
The invention of the steamboat was a formidable challenge not just of engineering, but of politics and finance.

THE world’s first steam-powered vessel was demonstrated by the Marquis Claude de Jouffroy, navigating the Doubs river between Besançon and Montbéliard in 1776. Over in America, John Fitch demonstrated a second on the Delaware to members of the United States’ Constitutional Convention, meeting at Philadelphia in 1787.

Brilliant though these innovations were, they were blind alleys both scientifically and commercially.

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No. 189
Cipriani Potter
Discovery and Invention
The Railway Clearing House
All but forgotten today, the RCH was one of the most important steps forward in British industrial history.

BY 1840, there were some 1,600 miles of railway in Britain, operated by over forty different companies. Each was a little world, even down to observing its own miniature time zone.

Each had its own signalling conventions, so ‘go’ on one route could be ‘stop’ elsewhere. Freight was charged by the mile, but railways were largely unmapped, which led to expensive disputes over distances.

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No. 190
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
Smarting for his outraged ‘rights’, Cain lost his reason — but not God’s pity and love.
Stephen was the first person to lose his life because he was a follower of Jesus Christ.
God’s love proved to be bigger and stronger than all man’s wickedness.
Passengers sharing Bishop Nicholas’s Moscow-bound flight found his blessings faintly silly, but that was when the engines were running.
Based on an account by Saint Bede of Jarrow
(672-735)
An inquisitive monk spied on a guest’s night-time walks.

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History (394)
Polywords (182)
Georgian Era (107)
Fiction (84)
Quickwords (46)
Doublets (34)
Triplets (23)
Railways (23)
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Adam Smith (10)
Polyword ‘Icy’
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 ‘well-worn route or habit’ (3 letters), and ‘naval officer’ (7 letters)?
Changing one letter at a time, see if you can start with TALL and finish with SHIP.
Find the magic letter that can change three words into three different ones.