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  • New England Mermaid August 21, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern

    Portsmouth Harbor Light, New Castle, New Hampshire

    Beach has been worrying a lot about mermaids in the holidays. He thought he would shared with readers some fine old mermaid stories from his archives most Mondays this semester: Mermaid Monday is born. Here is an 1883 record from New England. Note that it appeared in the British newspapers via the Toronto Mail!

    A mermaid has been seen off the New Hampshire coast, near Newcastle [New Castle]. She, or it, appeared three times on the crest of high waves, to the intense astonishment of some startled residents. A south-east gale was blowing, and the surf was unusually strong, but the sportive creature seemed perfectly at ease. The spectators aver that its head was crowned with a beautiful hair of abnormal length and thickness, that it had a comely face and long arms. Before disappearing it threw a kiss to the crowd. The latter action shows that even in a mermaid the innate coquetry of the sex is implanted. We cannot attribute this vision to the influence of the potent apple-jack, for the failure of the apple crop has made that beverage extremely scarce and high priced. Yet, when there is a chance of securing a few boarders, the residents permit their imaginations run riot. Given a figure-head loosened from some wreck, and bobbing in the surf, and the result would be an attractive, full-developed mermaid.

    This is a first. A mermaid explained as a figure-head. Any other New England mermaids: drbeachcombing AT yahoo DOT com

    Review: Les Compagnons August 20, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    Review: Les Compagnons

    The Hundred Years War in France and three damaged people are thrown together by events: the daughter of a witch; a knight with half his face burnt off; and a cowardly young man. The knight leads them on a trail across the burning countryside. He is clearly rushing towards his destruction. The young man and […]

    Winged Ninth-Century Elves?! August 19, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    Winged Ninth-Century Elves?!

    Beach has previously interested himself with winged fairies and today he came across this very early image from the Utrecht Psalter. The Utrecht Psalter was almost certainly created in northern France in the ninth century and has fabulous line drawings that will bring you as close as you will ever come to the early Middle Ages: Beach […]

    The Man Who Wore His Wife August 17, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The Man Who Wore His Wife

    You could fill a large book with anecdotes, urban legends and folk tales about rings. Most fall fairly effortlessly into certain categories: lost ring found; ring makes wearer invisible; ring cut from corpse’s finger… However, here is one of its kind: husband wears wife. Beach has had a five day holiday and this was a […]

    Married Life with a Mermaid: Six Useful Rules August 14, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Married Life with a Mermaid: Six Useful Rules

    Paracelsus (obit 1541) was a Swiss German who had strong interests in science and the supernatural: though, of course, for dear old Paracelsus they were one and the same thing, the natural world. In Paracelsus’ writings there is a good deal of material on what we would call fairies, mermaids and other goblins. Paracelsus has […]

    Jury Hell in 1995 August 13, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Jury Hell in 1995

    Beach has previously, on this site, looked at truly awful jobs (the Worst Career in History tag): including Japanese Prime Ministers, Knocker ups, Scottish Kings and Water Thief Watchers. However, he has recently come across, with some excitement, a new chamber in hell: namely, jury duty on the O. J. Simpson trial, Jan 25, 1995 – […]

    The Ludgvan Ghost Riot August 12, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The Ludgvan Ghost Riot

    Here is a nice ghost riot story from deepest darkest Cornwall, at Ludgvan near Penzance. This is a rather rare, though not entirely unprecedented thing, a rural ghost riot. Note also that this is a memory: interestingly the great Ludgvan ghost riot of c. 1820 or c. 1830 didn’t make it into the press. My first acknowledgment […]

    Joys of Supermarket Shopping in the Soviet Union August 11, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Joys of Supermarket Shopping in the Soviet Union

    The Soviet Union ran a centrally-planned economic system. This meant that bureaucrats, using five-year plans, had to anticipate the changing wants and needs of Soviet citizens looking into their cracked crystal balls. It is not that these planners did so badly, they did so with verve and cunning and best intentions: it is just that […]

    London Fairy Roadrunner August 10, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    London Fairy Roadrunner

    This is a fabulous and often overlooked ‘fairy’ sighting. The inverted commas on ‘fairy’ because it is difficult to know quite what to make of this. The story appeared in the third volume of Thomas Crofton Croker’s Fairy Legends of Ireland, only it comes from London or the outskirts of that city, c. 1800. First some […]

    Trafficking in Human Fat! August 9, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Trafficking in Human Fat!

    This story came up yesterday after inspired by the werewolf fat story. It is taken from a the Reading Mercury (10 Aug 1831)but was allegedly translated from Annals d’Hygiene Publique. ln the year 1813, a discovery was made in the Schools of Medicine, in Paris, which strongly excited the attention of the professors. The servants […]

    French Werewolves Sell Fat to Glass Factories? August 8, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    French Werewolves Sell Fat to Glass Factories?

    Beach has been messing around with wolves this week and he ran across this reference in relation to the wolf deaths in Dauphiné in the mid eighteenth century. The priest of Primarette wrote a summary of local attitudes to these killings. Enjoy the following: apart obviously from the fact that three kids had been devoured. […]

    Herne the Hunter: the Twelve Basic Facts August 7, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Herne the Hunter: the Twelve Basic Facts

    For the unacquainted Herne the Hunter is a southern English bogie, who haunted a tree in the park at Windsor Castle on the Bucks/Berks border. Almost all writing about Herne is overlaid with speculative points and useless comparisons. This post offers, therefore, an absolute basic version of the legend focusing hard on our early sources, […]

    Myths of Twentieth-Century History August 6, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Contemporary, Modern
    Myths of Twentieth-Century History

    Seven twentieth century myths follow. Any other contributions or angry rebuttals, drbeachcombing AT yahoo DOT com Great War: A Disaster Waiting to Happen, 1914 The Great War was going to happen sooner or later because two countries, Germany and France, wanted it. However, the consensus that the Great War would have inevitably led to the ‘breaking […]

    Earliest Portrayal of Dwarfs: Heysham? August 5, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    Earliest Portrayal of Dwarfs: Heysham?

    Early medieval and medieval literature is full of fairies, kobolds, gnomes and other supernatural entities. But when we come to try and understand how our ancestors envisaged these supernatural beasts we run into problems. We don’t, unfortunately, have early illustrations of fairies and their ilk; or at least we don’t have illustrations that can be […]

    Missing Urban Legends August 2, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Missing Urban Legends

    In the 1970s folklorists lightened up and realised that folklore was not just about elves, witches and weather prognostications. Modern beliefs involving swallowed melon seeds and superstitions about cars from suburbia were also fair game. With this new revelation, several excited young men and women went out and began collecting tales and started writing about […]

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