Today is Friday, the ninth of June.

"Thrice to thine and thrice to mine, and thrice again to make up nine. Peace! the charm's wound up!"

The significance of number nine to the weird sisters in Macbeth may suggest the perfection of peace or the evil of witchery. Various supersititions and sayings confirm the abiguity:

Nice as ninepence;

Nine orders of angels;

Cloud Nine for happiness;

Nine muses;

Dressed up to the nines;

Nine lives of a cat;

Nine Lessons and Carols;

All contrasting with:

The cat-o'-nine-tails;

Nine circles of hell;

Nine heads of a hydra;

Nine magpies as an ill omen;

"With nine fathers" - Turkish euphemism for illegitimacy.

Perhaps, with nine orifices in the human body, this ambiguity is understandable.


I waved the large senile trollop.

Those six words hide three answers strongly connected by a single theme. To find them, you must arrange the words into three pairs, then re-arrange the letters within each pair.

To celebrate the Scrabble Lawsuit, we have three copies of the new edition of Chambers Official Scrabble Lists for correct disentanglings. Entries, by 19 June, to: Pastimes, the Independent, 1 Canada Square, Canary Wharf, London E14 5DL.

26 May competition report:

Mad ape master locks rug moth. The concealed words are Prague (ape+rug) Amsterdam (master +mad) Stockholm (locks+moth).

Prizes to: Sue Jauncey, David Strang, Pudsey Wright.