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A Sword Reforged

In one of Tolkien’s tales, ‘The Children of Húrin’, a sword of one of those children is taken by some clever smiths to be reforged. In Tolkien’s tales, everything has a name, even the swords, and this one, once known as Anglachel, is reworked to become Gurthang, “Iron of Death”. And its blade is strong…

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Holy woodwork

A lady who attended a funeral at our church recently, looked up at the wooden ceiling, and said, “Ah, chestnut wood.” I was surprised, and intrigued, and asked her to explain. “No spider webs,” she said. “Spiders have an aversion to chestnut wood, which is why builders choose it to panel high ceilings in churches.”…

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Seeing the picture

“He who gets the jigsaw puzzle out of the box, must not boast like he who puts it away,” has the ring of a Biblical proverb (1 Kings 20:11). It’s one thing to start a 1,000 piece puzzle – to find the four corners and all the pieces with a straight edge. It’s another to…

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Living dangerously

Are spiders deaf? I ask the question because a spider has apparently been living in the smoke-alarm outside my bedroom door, and from time to time, taking responsibility for setting it off. Usually about 1.00am in the morning. For ages I thought it was a faulty battery. But the smoke-alarm man who visited recently discovered…

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One Day in a Lockdown

Reading about a man doing twenty-five years in a Russian gulag is always a good antidote to grumbling about doing six weeks in a lockdown at home. Today I spent with Ivan Denisovich, and listened as he told me about his day in a freezing labour camp. I got to meet some of the 400…

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Merrily, merrily

The claim that life is but a dream is rightly attributed to Shakespeare. In his play ‘The Tempest’, the words run as follows: ‘We are such stuff as dreams are made on, and our little life is rounded with a sleep.’ However what’s often omitted is that these words proceed from the mouth of a…

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Momento Amore

A few times over the years I have caught the scent of my wife’s perfume on my clothes; not of course self-applied, but caught on my clothes by her warm proximity and embrace. The whiff is welcome, the carriage is without embarrassment, and the experience is a momento of her love. A momento amore. So…

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Two letter words

They’re the teeth of every Scrabble-shark, and the enigma of every Scrabble-minnow. Two letter words. The exact number of them that can be legitimately used on a Scrabble board is disputed, but the latest and official number is 107. According to the latest world champion, the most essential of these little binary-blockbusters is the word…

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The Bronzed Bourne

Well how do you like that! Jason Bourne is actually an Aussie. Found it out last night as I came to the conclusion of Robert Ludlum’s novel ‘The Bourne Identity’. Here I was thinking that Jason Bourne was an American, since that’s Matt Damon’s nationality. But no. Jason Bourne was born in Sydney, Australia. Says…

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Contentment in Catan

That Klaus is a genius. Twenty-five years ago he designed a board game that left the losing players not wanting to slash their wrists but wanting to try again. I’d bought his game, The Settlers of Catan, after being inspired by a chapter on its history that told how Klaus was keen to avoid games…

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