Welcome to my Desk, where you’ll find all sorts of items to hold your interest. Unlike my real office desk, which is cluttered with books, files, news cuttings and the remnants of my lunch, this Online Desk will be efficient and easy to navigate.
Learn some of the tricks of solving those weird cryptic crosswords on my tutorials page.
If you wonder about the origins of some of our wonderful English expressions, Words & Phrases is the place to find out more.
Read about the puzzling but positive effect Lovatts has on your health in Puzzles & your Health. We’d love to hear from you, so write a letter to Christine’s Mailbag. You might want to comment on my regular column @ Christine’s Hello.
There’s something for everyone here, so come on in!
Australia, New Zealand and Britain are among the highest producers of sheep meat. Sheep farming goes back to around 10,000 BC, when wild mouflon were domesticated in ancient Mesopotamia (now Iraq). The Bible tells us that wealth was measured in flocks. The king of Israel taxed his subjects according to the number of rams they owned. In [more…]
Many a puzzled puzzler has written in to query a word we have used: “When I was at school, we were told we should never use this word…”, the voice of their English teacher still ringing in their ears. Well it seems that rules are made to be broken, and while we may rant and rave, nothing can [more…]
When you read that a famous person has died, remember it may not be true: premature death reports are becoming more common. There is nothing new about this. In 1816, the English poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge heard his death mentioned in a hotel by a man reading out a newspaper report of a coroner’s inquest. He asked [more…]
The Channel Tunnel, known as the Chunnel, is an undersea tunnel beneath the English Channel, linking England to France. It runs from Folkestone in Kent to Coquelles near Calais and has the longest undersea portion of any tunnel in the world. It stretches underground for 31 miles. The tunnelling started in 1988. The fill that was removed during [more…]
You may have come across various art terms or architectural descriptions as clues in our crosswords, such as ‘Ornate art style’ for BAROQUE or ‘Medieval architectural style’ for GOTHIC. Yet it’s interesting to realise that these terms were all originally created as insults, by contemporaries who didn’t appreciate the new ways of doing things. Gothic architecture [more…]
The idea of a euphemism is to avoid calling a spade a spade. Why you would want to avoid mentioning a spade is unclear, as it’s not a particularly offensive or embarrassing object. In our crosswords, we might call a spade ‘garden digger’, or ‘playing card symbol’.
In Oscar Wilde’s play The Importance Of Being Earnest, the dialogue between country girl Cecily [more…]