All Posts (649)
Nos 621 to 630
Lives of the Saints
The Sacred Snakes of Kefalonia
Once a year, regular as clockwork, the little snakes slither into the convent for a Feast of the Virgin Mary.

ONE day in 1705, the nuns of a convent on Kefalonia heard that pirates were toiling up the hill, intent on rape and plunder. So they hurried to their chapel, where they kept a miraculous icon of the Virgin Mary.

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No. 621
2 two-part story
Lives of the Saints
The Miracle of Piso Livadi
Three fishermen let their tongues run away with them, and were left counting the cost.

ONE August evening in 1931, three fishermen put into a tiny harbour in Piso Livadi, on the Greek island of Paros.

Wine flowed freely, and the next day’s feast of the Virgin Mary, a day when the whole island honoured the Mother of God, drew their coarsest wit.

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No. 622
Charles Avison
Lives of the Saints
A Battle of Wills
Two strong and determined men refused to back down.
Based on ‘A Book of Golden Deeds’ by Charlotte Yonge
(1823-1901)

WHEN the Emperor came to the Sunday service that week (he was staying in Milan), Bishop Ambrose refused to let him in.

Theodosius reminded him that King David was a murderer and an adulterer, yet still attended the Temple in Jerusalem. 'If you have sinned like him’ replied Ambrose, ‘repent like him’.

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No. 623
Character and Conduct
‘Better Habits, Not Greater Rights’
The extraordinary productivity and social mobility of the Victorian era is to the credit not of the governing class, but of the working man.
By Samuel Smiles
(1812-1904)

IN all times men have been prone to believe that their happiness and well-being were to be secured by means of institutions rather than by their own conduct. Hence the value of legislation as an agent in human advancement has usually been much over-estimated.

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No. 624
Discovery and Invention
A Man called ‘Beta’
For a perennial ‘runner-up’, Eratosthenes had a peculiar knack of being first.

BY day, Eratosthenes was responsible for the world-famous library in the Egyptian city of Alexandria. He tutored the Pharaoh’s sons, and - no mean poet himself - amassed a superb collection of the epic poetry, plays and philosophical writings of ancient Greece.

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No. 625
American History
The ‘Jay Treaty’
The Jay Treaty can be seen as the start of the ‘special relationship’ between Britain and America.

IN 1783, the American Revolutionary War came to an end with the Treaty of Paris. Six years later, the French people overthrew their own King, and many in America, especially the Jeffersonians, saw the new republican France as a more natural ally than Britain.

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No. 626
Muzio Clementi
American History
The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere
When Parliament sent the Army against American colonists, people still calling themselves ‘British’ had to decide very quickly what that meant to them.

FOLLOWING Samuel Adams’s ‘Boston Tea Party’ protest in 1773, London quartered some three thousand soldiers from the Regular army all around the port, with orders to destroy the rebels’ stockpile of weapons at Concord, and arrest Adams and John Hancock, then in Lexington.

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No. 627
Modern History
The Boston Tea Party
In the time of King George III, Parliament forgot that its job was not to regulate the people, but to represent them.

THE Tea Act of 1773 grudgingly allowed American companies to import tea, but deliberately weighed them down with burdensome regulation and taxes unless they dealt with the East India Company in London.

The colonists could do nothing about this, because they had no representatives in the English Parliament.

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No. 628
Thomas Erskine, 6th Earl of Kellie
Music and Musicians
Fiddler Tam
An 18th century bon viveur and virtuoso violinist, Thomas Erskine is currently being ‘rediscovered’ by the classical music industry.
Music by
Thomas Erskine, Earl of Kellie

AS a young man of twenty Thomas Erskine, Sixth Earl of Kellie, was passionate about music, but scarcely able to tune his own violin.

A four-year visit to Joseph Stamitz in Mannheim changed all that.

On his return in 1756, his new-found virtuosity earned him the nickname ‘Fiddler Tam’.

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No. 629
Francesco Geminiani
Lives of the Saints
St Andrew, Patron of Scotland
Scotland’s association with the brother of Peter is down to an early 8th century Bishop of Hexham.

ANDREW was the first of the twelve apostles gathered by Jesus Christ. He and his brother Simon Peter were fishermen on the Sea of Galilee in northern Israel.

Andrew’s missionary journeys stretched from Greece to modern-day Georgia and Ukraine.

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No. 630
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
King James II was forced off the throne in favour of his daughter Mary, and a new English constitution was born.
Scottish King David I hoped to exploit the unpopularity of the Normans by trading on his own English heritage.
An improbable chain of coincidences led to one of the great medical revolutions just when it was most needed.
Based on a story by Charlotte Yonge
(1823-1901)
Horatius Cocles was the last man standing between Rome’s republic and the return of totalitarian government in 509 BC.
Based on an account by Charlotte Yonge
(1823-1901)
Young Montague Bertie, Lord Willougby, tended his dying father behind enemy lines.

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Polyword ‘Forewarned’
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 ‘current of cold air’ (7 letters), and ‘e.g. fascinator’ (3 letters)?
Changing one letter at a time, see if you can start with SPIT and finish with FIRE.
Find the magic letter that can change three words into three different ones.