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All Posts (664)
Nos 651 to 660
Jean Sibelius
Tales from the Bible
Belshazzar’s Feast
Prince Belshazzar’s disrespectful behaviour left him facing the original ‘writing on the wall’.

BELSHAZZAR threw a sumptuous feast for his noblemen; and being short of golden cups for his wine, he had his servants bring the sacred vessels stolen from the Temple in Jerusalem years before, and bade his lords toast their own gods from them.

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No. 651
Edward Elgar
Music and Musicians
Edward Elgar suffered from depression, and ‘Nimrod’ is his token of thanks to the true friend who supported him through it.
Music by Edward Elgar

AFTER a long day teaching the violin, Elgar and his wife Alice joked about how their friends might develop a simple tune, given their distinctive personalities - from a memorable laugh to likeable pomposity and poor piano-playing, and even the organist of Hereford Cathedral’s bulldog, splashing about in the River Wye.

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No. 652
John Field
Aesop of Samos
The Debtor and his Pig
There are no lengths to which some people won’t go.
Based on a fable by
Aesop of Samos

ONCE upon a time in Athens, there was a man who was in debt, and his creditor was pressing him to repay.

His first response was to ask for an extension on his loan, as (so he said) he could not raise the money.

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No. 653
George Frideric Handel
Hans Christian Andersen
The Emperor’s New Clothes
A telling satire on fashionable thinking among the elite.
Based on a fable by Hans Christian Andersen

ONCE upon a time, some weavers arrived at court, and offered to make robes so fine that only men fit for the very highest offices could even see them.

The Emperor paid them handsomely, and they set to work.

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No. 654
Aesop of Samos
The Crow and the Pitcher
Brute force is no substitute for quick thinking.
Based on a fable by
Aesop of Samos

AN extremely thirsty crow stumbled across a pitcher, and when she peered inside she found that it was half-filled with water.

But the neck was very narrow, and try as she might she could neither reach the water with her beak, nor summon up sufficient force to tip the pitcher on its side.

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No. 655
Elias Parish Alvars
Aesop of Samos
The Goose with the Golden Egg
Don’t get greedy when things are going well.
Based on a fable by
Aesop of Samos

ONCE upon a time, there was a villager who kept a goose. One morning he went to her nest to find an egg, and discovered that she had laid an egg of pure gold.

Immediately, a thought suggested itself. To lay a golden egg, his goose must surely be carrying around a vast lump of gold.

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No. 656
Muzio Clementi
Aesop of Samos
The Ape and the Fox
A valuable lesson when dealing with practised liars.
Based on a fable by
Aesop of Samos

ONCE upon a time, a fox and an ape were travelling the same road, and passed through a cemetery.

The ape waved a leathery hand towards the rows of headstones. “All these” he said “mark the last resting place of slaves given their freedom by my ancestors”.

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No. 657
Felix Mendelssohn
Aesop of Samos
The Dog and the Bell
Notoriety is often mistaken for fame.
Based on a fable by
Aesop of Samos

ONCE upon a time, there was a dog whose habit it was to bite people in secret.

But his master fashioned a little copper bell and fastened it around the dog’s neck, so everyone far and wide would know whether the dog was at their heels.

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No. 658
George Frideric Handel
Aesop of Samos
The Cat’s Wedding
It’s easier to change how you look than to hide who you are.
Based on a fable by
Aesop of Samos

Aphrodite felt sorry for the lovesick cat, and did indeed turn her into a very lovely young woman. Naturally, the young man immediately fell in love with her, and they were soon married.

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No. 659
Jan Ladislav Dussek
Poets and Poetry
Humorist Thomas Hood obviously didn’t like to see the nights drawing in
By Thomas Hood

NO sun - no moon!
No morn — no noon —
No dawn — no dusk — no proper time of day.
No warmth, no cheerfulness, no healthful ease,
No comfortable feel in any member.

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No. 660
Polywords (183)
Make as many words as you can from the letters of a nine-letter word.
Latest: Weir
Added on Sunday January 14th, 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.
From our Archive
By Charlotte Yonge
King Harold died at the Battle of Hastings in 1066. Or did he?
By Samuel Smiles
George Stephenson won the admiration of French navvies by showing them how a Geordie works a shovel.
The mild-mannered, artistic monk was nevertheless a founding father of the English nation.
By Frederick Douglass
British statesmen were among those who inspired the career of one of America’s greatest men, Frederick Douglass.
Canadian sailor William Hall was summoned over to India to help face down the Indian Mutiny.

A to Z Index

Top Topics
History (406)
Polywords (183)
Georgian Era (111)
Fiction (84)
Quickwords (46)
Doublets (34)
Railways (23)
Triplets (23)
Stuart Era (17)
Tudor Era (11)
Adam Smith (10)
Polyword ‘Warren’
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 ‘cup’ (6 letters), and ‘unit of resistance’ (3 letters)?
Changing one letter at a time, see if you can start with PIG and finish with STY.
Find the magic letter that can change three words into three different ones.