All Posts (679)
Nos 631 to 640
Muzio Clementi
Classical History
The Last Gladiator
The people of Rome suddenly turned their back on centuries of ‘sport’ - all because of one harmless old man.

THE Victory Games began harmlessly enough, but soon the gladiators leapt into the arena. Death was all around, while happy crowds punched the air and shouted themselves hoarse.

Suddenly, a frail old man in a tattered robe ran onto the sandy floor, pushing the giant gladiators apart, pleading with them to stop their madness.

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No. 631
Elias Parish Alvars
Lives of the Saints
Roman Empire (Byzantine Era) (330 - 1453)
The Keeper of the Gate
A widow cast her precious icon into the sea rather than see it dishonoured by government agents, but that wasn’t the end of the story.
Based on a
Byzantine Tradition

A WEALTHY widow from Nicaea near Constantinople kept an icon of Mary, a criminal offence at the time. Rather than see it harmed again - a soldier’s sword had already left a scar on its cheek - she set it afloat on the Aegean Sea.

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No. 632
Felix Mendelssohn
Lives of the Saints
St Nicholas of the Cats
A very unusual monastery with some very unusual protectors.
Based on a
Byzantine Tradition

THE monastery of St Nicholas of the Cats was founded on Cyprus by St Helen, mother of Emperor Constantine the Great, in the 4th century.

But the site on the Akrotiri peninsula was infested with venomous snakes, so much so that the local residents began to leave.

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No. 633
John Playford
British Myths and Legends
William of Cloudsley
William is Cumbria’s very own blend of Robin Hood and William Tell - with a happy ending, too.

WILLIAM of Cloudsley, Clym of the Clough, and Adam Bell, had been poaching deer, and were wanted men. But William could not resist a few hours snatched at home with his wife Alice, and their three children.

There William was captured, though not before shooting dozens dead, and sent to Carlisle jail.

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No. 634
Music and Musicians
Brahms: Three Intermezzi Op. 117
A Scottish widow’s lullaby for her fatherless child inspired his music, but Brahms’s message struck closer to home.

JOHANNES Brahms’s Three Intermezzi, composed in 1892, were inspired by the Border Ballad Lady Anne Bothwell’s Lament, in which a bitter young mother tells her uncomprehending son how his father left them, on the very day his child was born, to die in a pointless war.

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No. 635
Greek and Roman Myths
Theseus and the Minotaur
A warning not to be forgetful of others, even in triumph.

THE white bull of King Minos sired a dreadful half-man, half-bull called the Minotaur, which was at length confined in the Labyrinth, an ingenious maze.

Every year, at Minos’s command, a ship with a black flag of grief set out from Athens, bearing seven youths and seven maidens for the minotaur to consume in its lair.

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No. 636
George Frideric Handel
Greek and Roman Myths
Heracles and the Nemean Lion
Sending a hero off to ‘certain death’ never seems to work out...

IT was Hera who sent two snakes to devour Heracles in his cot, but he strangled them with his bare hands.

And it was Hera who induced a fit of madness in Heracles so great, that he slew his wife and six children.

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No. 637
2 two-part story
Muzio Clementi
Stories in Short
The Story of ‘Oliver Twist’
Fate and a vicious professional thief named Fagin conspire to trap orphan Oliver Twist into a life of crime.
Based on the novel by Charles Dickens
(1812-1870)

OLIVER TWIST was an orphan from birth, and left in the unsympathetic care of a government Workhouse.

As soon as he was old enough, he was sent to work for an undertaker, a miserable existence from which he escaped by running away to London.

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No. 638
2 two-part story
Malcolm Arnold
British Myths and Legends
The Lambton Worm
Part One. John Lambton goes fishing on a Sunday, and lets loose all kinds of trouble.

ONE Sunday morning, John, the young heir of Lambton Hall, skipped Mass and went fishing in the Wear. No good could come of that, and no good did.

That morning, he hooked only an ugly-looking worm, tossed it with disgust down a well, and promptly forgot about it.

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No. 639
Charles Avison
Plantagenet Era
King Edward III (1327-1377)
The Battle of Neville’s Cross
Ralph Neville spoiled David of Scotland’s alliance with France in the Hundred Years’ War

FOLLOWING a heavy defeat at the Battle of Crécy on the 26th of August, 1346, King Philip VI of France appealed to the Scottish King David II to honour the ‘Auld Alliance’, and help him by harassing England from the north.

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No. 640
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.

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Today in History
1804 A steam locomotive built by Richard Trevithick makes the first return railway journey
From our Archive
A British victory at tragic cost, in which both sides had to learn a new way of fighting.
The King of Syria goes on a mole-hunt, but Elisha does not seem to mind being his prime suspect.
Based on the novel by Charles Dickens
(1812-1870)
Fate and a vicious professional thief named Fagin conspire to trap orphan Oliver Twist into a life of crime.
Based on the play by William Shakespeare
(1564-1616)
A duke with a passion for the art of enchantment is stranded by his enemies on a deserted island.
Based on a fable by
Aesop of Samos
An over-excited jackdaw goes out of his league, and pays the price.

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Tudor Era (11)
Adam Smith (10)
Polyword ‘Wide’
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 ‘cowardly’ (6 letters), and ‘historic Greek victory in 479 BC’ (7 letters)?
Changing one letter at a time, see if you can start with NOTE and finish with BOOK.
Find the magic letter that can change three words into three different ones.