All Posts (676)
Nos 541 to 550
Thomas Arne
Music and Musicians
King George I (1714-1727) to King George II (1727-1760)
Lessons in British values for a Future King
‘Rule Britannia’ was a discreet way of telling a German prince what was expected of a British King.
Music by Thomas Arne
(1710-1778)

THOMAS Arne’s Masque ‘Alfred’ was first performed for Frederick, Prince of Wales, in 1740.

It was a drama about King Alfred, who in the 9th century defeated the invading Danes, united the petty kingdoms of England, and established the first English navy. But this was no abstract history lesson.

Continue reading
No. 541
Henry Purcell
Tales from the Bible
David and Bathsheba
David’s scheme to steal another man’s wife succeeded, but he could not keep his secret from everyone.

DAVID became captivated by a young woman called Bathsheba, and wanted her for his wife.

When he discovered that she was already married, he contrived to have her husband, Uriah, drafted into the Israelite army, and posted to the front line.

Continue reading
No. 542
Sir Arthur Sullivan
Discovery and Invention
Queen Victoria (1837-1901)
The Rewards of ‘Patience’
How appropriate that the comic opera ‘Patience’ should introduce the world to the results of thirty years of labour.

ON December 28, 1881, the D’Oyly Carte Opera company presented ‘Patience’ at the Savoy, their theatre in the Strand. Words were by W. S. Gilbert, music was by Arthur Sullivan.

Lighting was by Joseph Swan, a chemist from Newcastle who had already patented a form of photographic paper that had revolutionised the camera.

Continue reading
No. 543
Greek and Roman Myths
Phrixus and the Golden Fleece
Long before Jason came to claim it, the golden fleece had already saved a boy’s life.

INO, second wife of the Bœotian King Athamas, hated her stepchildren, Phrixus and Helle, with an ungovernable passion.

Continue reading
No. 544
Greek and Roman Myths
Perseus and the Gorgon
When Polydectes, King of Seriphos, sent Perseus to get the Gorgon’s head, he hoped the boy would never come back.

POLYDECTES, King of Seriphos, coveted Danaë, but he was afraid of her young son Perseus.

So the King demanded that the boy leave the island, and not return without the head of the Gorgon Medusa, so hideous that to look on her would turn a man to stone.

Continue reading
No. 545
2 two-part story
Richard Jones
Greek and Roman Myths
Jason and the Golden Fleece
A political rival sends Jason on a hopeless errand, to fetch the golden fleece.

WHEN Jason arrived in the Kingdom of Iolcus wearing one sandal, his uncle King Pelias was anxious. He had stolen the crown from Jason’s father, and had been told that a youth wearing one shoe would one day kill him.

Continue reading
No. 546
Sir George Macfarren
Modern History
The Indian Mutiny
Army unrest spread throughout northeast India, and brought direct rule from London.

THE Enfield rifle carried by soldiers in the East India Company’s militia used bullets that came in a ready-greased paper cartridge, which was to be torn open with the teeth or fingers.

In 1856, the British moved production of these cartridges to Calcutta, with grease sourced from a local supplier.

Continue reading
No. 547
Frederic Hymen Cowen
Modern History
The Siege of Khartoum
General Gordon’s death was a sensation and a scandal in its day.

IN 1884, the Sudan was faced with rule by Egypt, then in British hands, or rule by Muhammad Ahmad, the self-proclaimed ‘Mahdi’ of Islam.

Back home in London, Prime Minister William Gladstone sympathised with Muhammad Ahmad, whom he saw as a freedom-fighter.

Continue reading
No. 548
Frederic Hymen Cowen
Sir Winston S. Churchill
King George V (1910-1936)
The Massacre at Amritsar
After one of the worst outrages in modern British history, Winston Churchill made sure there was no cover-up.

ON 13th April 1919, thousands of Sikhs crowded into the Jallianwala Bagh [i.e. garden, park] in Amritsar, Punjab, on their harvest festival.

The Punjab had become a restless province during the Great War, and London, warned of terrorist ties to Germany and Russian revolutionaries, had imposed a crack-down.

Continue reading
No. 549
Edward Elgar
Modern History
Armistice Day
Armistice Day is the anniversary of the end of the First World War on the 11th of November, 1918.

AUSTRIA-Hungary’s attempt to snatch Serbia from the fading Ottoman Empire dragged Germany and Russia into the dispute.

Britain and France were already pledged to the support of Russia, and very soon the most devastating war in history had spread to all Europe and beyond.

Continue reading
No. 550
Polywords (185)
Make as many words as you can from the letters of a nine-letter word.
Latest: Grey
Added on Thursday February 15th, 2018
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.

About our calendars

From our Archive
Long before Jason came to claim it, the golden fleece had already saved a boy’s life.
The blushing clergyman’s daughter is recognised today as one of the great figures of English literature.
By Jonathan Swift
(1667-1745)
The people of Lilliput are strangely small, but their ideas are bizarre in a big way.
The headstrong Irish boy became part of the Greek resistance movement that won independence in 1832.
By Charles Dickens
(1812-1870)
Charles Dickens explains the thinking behind Jesus Christ’s choice of friends.

A to Z Index

Top Topics
History (414)
Polywords (185)
Georgian Era (113)
Fiction (85)
Quickwords (46)
Doublets (34)
Railways (24)
Triplets (23)
Stuart Era (17)
India (14)
Tudor Era (11)
Adam Smith (10)
Polyword ‘Rock’
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 ‘a river, part of the Bristol-London waterway’ (6 letters), and ‘e.g. D minor’ (3 letters)?
Changing one letter at a time, see if you can start with LESS and finish with MORE.
Find the magic letter that can change three words into three different ones.