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Jean Hill Misremembering Kennedy November 30, 2010

Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
Jean Hill Misremembering Kennedy

  What lying dogs we are! Beachcombing is referring to humanity’s extraordinary ability to warp and deform both our immediate perception of the world and also our memories of those perceptions. You don’t believe Beachcombing? Then take the extraordinary case of Jean Hill (obit 2000). Jean – aka ‘the Lady in Red’ – was an […]

Dear Lord and Father: Songs Against Songs November 29, 2010

Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
Dear Lord and Father: Songs Against Songs

Music is strangely resistant to bizzarism. Certainly, after years of reading Beachcombing has only about five pages of scribbled  notes on music in an exercise book and most of those about rock, pop and other post-war perversions. Did Mozart, Purcell, Bach and the rest never get up to anything peculiar? It does not seem possible and yet their […]

Bats Fight Japan November 28, 2010

Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
Bats Fight Japan

Beachcombing recently described  the possible Byzantine use of weaponised crows soaked in pitch and wondered aloud whether other birds or flying creatures had been employed by ancient or medieval armies. And, almost immediately, like an answer from heaven, he got three emails pointing him to a wonderful story that he’d never heard before:  kudos to Ostrich (a bizarrist of […]

Byron’s Skull Cup November 27, 2010

Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
Byron's Skull Cup

Beachcombing promised just over thirty days ago to avoid the whole subject of decapitations for ‘at least a month’. A month having passed though he is determined to squeeze just another one in and then leave heads on necks until Epiphany. Beachcombing begins his decapitation story with Nathaniel Hawthorne’s visit to Lord Byron family residence sometime in the 1850s […]

Dog-headed Indians November 26, 2010

Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
Dog-headed Indians

What do Marco Polo, Augustine, Paul the Deacon, Vincent of Beauvais and the Buddhist missionary, Hui-Sheng all have in common? Well, to keep things short – Beachcombing is on bedtime duty tonight for his insomniac daughter – they all described and (with the exception of Augustine) believed in tribes of dog-headed human beings in lands distant […]

J. Norman Emerson and Intuitive Archeology November 25, 2010

Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
J. Norman Emerson and Intuitive Archeology

You, the archaeologist, are presented with a green hill far away and told to dig. ‘Back in the day’ – Beachcombing is thinking of happy times in the happy nineteenth century – you would have simply hired out a little brawn from a nearby town and blitzed said hillside with spades and picks. No pension contributions, […]

The forgotten kingdom of Mannau November 24, 2010

Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
The forgotten kingdom of Mannau

It is difficult to not to get all lyrical when looking at the early history of Man, the tiny island that stands halfway between the UK and Ireland, not least because that history is so obscure. Beachcombing is not referring to the later Norse destinyof the island, when Man was a pirate base for several thousand frightful Norwegians and […]

The Vasari Phenomenon November 23, 2010

Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
The Vasari Phenomenon

Monsoon season in Italy continues and Beachcombing finds himself trapped far from home while providing three lectures for a sister institution. It is 6.00 in the morning, no one is stirring. As the library is closed and Beachcombing’s cognitive functions seem impaired  he thought that he would offer up a cookie-dough post: a hopefully interesting […]

Changing Sex in Victorian England November 22, 2010

Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
Changing Sex in Victorian England

Disaster in the Beachcombing household tonight. Little Miss B – at least that is who Beachcombing is blaming – left on the car reading light, allowing the battery to run down. The family is thus stranded in the middle of the Italian countryside in monsoon weather wondering whether a car that doesn’t start will serve as a […]

Great Balls of Floury Fire November 21, 2010

Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
Great Balls of Floury Fire

Food is dangerous at the best of times. But a thoughtful note by J van Leuven in an archaeological journal (Antiquity) from 1979 should prove of interest to all bizarrists as it suggests that food, more particularly grain, had the potential to bring powerful Mycenaean city states, including Knossos, to their knees. Now if this […]

Review: Sodomy and the Pirate Tradition November 20, 2010

Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
Review: Sodomy and the Pirate Tradition

There is a Beachcombing family tradition that involves Mrs B. lying on one side of the great bed reading her Reflections on the Gospel of John or True Stories of the Umbrian Christian Mystics, while Beachcombing lies, by her side, engrossed in bizzarist books that leave, in Mrs B’s eyes, a lot to be desired. Beachcombing […]

Zoological Soup and Aroused Pig: Futurist Cooking November 19, 2010

Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
Zoological Soup and Aroused Pig: Futurist Cooking

Futurism was one of the twentieth century’s more bizarre ideologies. Founded in Italy just before the First World War – though coming to maturity in the 1920s – it made a cult out of what was new while despising the ‘old’. So speeding planes, falling bombs or soaring modern buildings were good. Whereas the canals […]

The Napalm Snake Mystery November 18, 2010

Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
The Napalm Snake Mystery

In ancient and medieval and, indeed, modern times geographers frequently got things embarrassingly wrong for those there-be-dragons areas outside the circuit of their little worlds. So the early Greeks believed that the Gobi desert was full of flightless griffins. The Byzantines were convinced that the air in Scotland was poisonous. And the British in the […]

De Gaulle Flies into History November 17, 2010

Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
De Gaulle Flies into History

Beachcombing has a soft spot for Charles De Gaulle. Indeed, he often thinks of old lemon face on the balcony in Mostaganem in 1958, denying that the twentieth century had happened. Or the good General pissing off the Canadians in Quebec in 1967. Then there is de Gaulle’s comment on the death of his daughter, Anne, with Down […]

Arthur’s Grave at Glastonbury Revisited: The Irish connection November 16, 2010

Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
Arthur's Grave at Glastonbury Revisited: The Irish connection

Beachcombing thought that today he would return to Arthur’s remains at Glastonbury, that extraordinary moment in the late twelfth century when the monks of Britain’s oldest monastery ’discovered’ Arthur’s body just outside their church: diggings revealed a trunk tomb and giant bones. True, Beachcombing looked at this matter several months ago, when he suggested that the bones might […]

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