All Posts (649)
Nos 341 to 350
John Field
Discovery and Invention
The Bully and the Brakesman
A young George Stephenson takes responsibility for the team spirit at Black Callerton mine.

ON one occasion, Stephenson’s handling of the winding mechanism displeased miner Ned Nelson, who on reaching the top berated him offensively.

This Nelson was a notorious bully, used to getting his own way, so he was taken aback when instead of cowering, Stephenson defended himself honestly.

Continue reading
No. 341
Ralph Vaughan Williams
The Second World War
Britain’s Destiny
In a Christmas broadcast in 1940, actor Leslie Howard explained why British sovereignty was worth fighting for.
By Leslie Howard
(1893-1943)

BRITAIN’S destiny has been to uphold tolerance in religion, thought, speech, and race – the mainspring of democracy. We have still far to travel on the road to true democracy, but only the Germans have made no progress in this direction.

Continue reading
No. 342
Sir William Walton
The Second World War
Leslie Howard
Howard gave his life to saving the ‘great gifts and strange inconsistencies’ of Britain’s unique democracy.

AFTER leaving his cavalry regiment in 1916 suffering from shell-shock, Leslie Howard turned to acting, starring as Percy Blakeney in ‘The Scarlet Pimpernel’ in 1934, and most famously as Ashley Wilkes in ‘Gone With The Wind’.

Continue reading
No. 343
Frank Bridge
Greek and Roman Myths
Apple of Discord
Thetis snubs Eris, goddess of Discord, and sets off a series of events leading to the Trojan War.

WHEN Peleus, prince of Aegina, married the sea-nymph Thetis, the wedding was attended by many gods and goddesses. Eris, goddess of Discord, was not invited; however she slipped in anyway, bringing a golden apple from the Garden of the Hesperides.

She wrote ‘For the fairest’ on it, and lobbed it into the wedding-party.

Continue reading
No. 344
2 two-part story
Charles Villiers Stanford
Modern History
Florence Nightingale
Florence used her logical mind and society connections to save thousands of lives in the Crimean War.

AFTER reading distressing newspaper accounts of servicemen wounded in the Crimean War, Florence Nightingale, who at that time ran a women’s clinic in London, confided her frustrations to Sidney Herbert at the War Office.

Continue reading
No. 345
John Marsh
Lives of the Saints
Stick and Carrot
The Virgin Mary and her son team up to get the best out of some careless monks.
Based on a
Byzantine Tradition

THE Abbot of the Vatopedi monastery was in the chapel alone one morning, when suddenly he heard a voice.

After looking this way and that, he realised it had come from an icon of Mary, with her child Jesus on her lap.

Continue reading
No. 346
Ralph Vaughan Williams
The Great War
The Battle of the Somme
A British victory at tragic cost, in which both sides had to learn a new way of fighting.

THE first day of the Battle of the Somme, which began on the 1st of July, 1916, with the Battle of Albert, constituted a heavy defeat for the Germans, and overall the Somme was declared a victory for the Allies.

But the British lost over 60,000 men on that one day, the bloodiest in the history of the British Army.

Continue reading
No. 347
John Field
Poets and Poetry
‘My Shadow’
An enduringly popular, bitter-sweet poem by the author of ‘Treasure Island’.
By Robert Louis Stevenson
(1850-1894)

I HAVE a little shadow that goes in and out with me,
And what can be the use of him is more than I can see.
He is very, very like me from the heels up to the head;
And I see him jump before me, when I jump into my bed.

Continue reading
No. 348
2 two-part story
Muzio Clementi
British Myths and Legends
Cap o’ Rushes
A girl’s choice of words sees her turned out of hearth and home.

A WEALTHY man was determined to find out which of his three daughters loved him best. So he asked the first how much she loved him, and she replied ‘Why, as I love my life!’ and the second said, ‘More than all the world!’

But the third said, ‘As raw meat loves salt.’

Continue reading
No. 349
2 two-part story
William Herschel and George Frideric Handel
Mediaeval History
The Fall of Constantinople
Hospitality and sympathy, but no help - the Byzantine Emperor learns a bitter lesson about western diplomacy.

FROM 1399 to 1403, the Byzantine Emperor Manuel II toured Europe, drumming up support for the defence of Constantinople from the growing threat of the Turks. He even visited London, where Henry IV treated him to a Christmas joust.

Continue reading
No. 350
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
By Lewis Carroll
(1832-1898)
Alice experiences for herself the very definition of a pointless exercise.
An early mediaeval myth linking British civilization to the Fall of Troy.
A girl’s choice of words sees her turned out of hearth and home.
Music by George Frideric Handel
(1685-1759)
Handel’s anthem sets to glorious music words sung at English coronations for over a thousand years.
The British had some difficulty fulfilling all the promises made to their wartime Allies.

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 ‘Nuts’
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 ‘wheedle’ (6 letters), and ‘engine-driver’s compartment’ (3 letters)?
Changing one letter at a time, see if you can start with SWORD and finish with PEACE.
Find the magic letter that can change three words into three different ones.