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World Centre September 30, 2011

Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
World Centre

Autumnal flu continues despite helpful advice from readers, a foot massage from Mrs B and neck-breaking kangaroo jumps from little Miss B. In this reduced, nay pitiful state, Beachcombing thought that he would celebrate a true forgotten kingdom: the World Centre of Communication. Its creators Henrik Christian Andersen and Ernest Hébrard were intent – in […]

Mermaid at Exmouth Eats Boiled Fish September 29, 2011

Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
Mermaid at Exmouth Eats Boiled Fish

Beach is crashing into his autumnal flu so here’s a bit of mermaid that requires relatively little writing. Most mermaid accounts from the British Isles come from the Celtic fringes. How refreshing then to come across this from the gentile waters of Exmouth Bay in 1812. The day of yesterday being very fine, I joined […]

Radioactive Japes September 28, 2011

Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
Radioactive Japes

Beachcombing’s recent reading about secret weapons from the Second World War and cobblers about ancient nuclear wars has got him thinking. He should really, twenty years ago, have put together a file on radioactive folly in human history. But, in the absence of this file, he hopes that reader’s will be able to provide some […]

Tute’s Glass Ball September 27, 2011

Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
Tute's Glass Ball

Beach is in a meteor mood again and has been flicking back through his notes to some particularly interesting cases that Andy the Mad Monk sent him last year. Andy, in fact, provided a series of remarkable examples but Beach’s favourite is probably this curious case from ancient Egypt. In the picture above we see […]

Eleanor’s Lovers September 26, 2011

Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
Eleanor's Lovers

Eleanor of Aquitaine (obit 1204) was a powerful and self confident woman living in an age when women were supposed to be anything but. Her home in the south of what is today France gave greater property rights to daughters and wives, property rights that Eleanor knew how to manipulate. She had some wild male […]

Meteor Destroys Pub September 25, 2011

Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern

Several months ago Beachcombing became interested in incidents of meteors intervening in history or, at the very least, scaring the eeby jeebies out of humankind. He was particularly interested in the way that the perception of meteors changed in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century. This text comes from the key period when scientists […]

Alan Turing’s Breasts September 24, 2011

Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
Alan Turing's Breasts

Alan Turing’s efforts at code-breaking at Bletchley Park 1939-1945 led to Enigma decrypts and gave Britain and later the US a window into Hitler’s parlour in crucial years, allowing, inter alia, victory in the Battle of the Atlantic. Indeed, it is sometimes said that Turing was one of three or four individuals without whom Britain […]

Hildegard’s Headaches September 23, 2011

Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
Hildegard's Headaches

***Dedicated to Moonman who got Beach thinking about this*** Hildegard of Bingen, monastic reformer, abbess and all round good egg, regularly had visions. These visions were at the very centre of her intellectual and spiritual existence. They gave her the courage to share her unique theology of the world with others: she believed that they […]

Secret Weapons September 22, 2011

Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
Secret Weapons

Ideas for books very often begin with nagging questions that compulsively irritate authors and that they then work through – think of it as therapy – by writing tens or even hundreds of thousands of words. Beach suspects that the nagging question that saw Brian Ford pen Secret Weapons: Technology, Science and the Race to […]

Burning a Shed in Wales September 21, 2011

Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
Burning a Shed in Wales

(Image Alan Fryer) For Beachcombing, the Welsh are one of those elect nations who, along with the Maoris and the Finns, stand at the right side of the throne of God. Yet Welsh history in the last century has been quiet and uninspiring: in marked contrast, say, to that country’s Gaelic neighbour, Ireland, which sweated […]

In the Margins September 20, 2011

Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
In the Margins

Marginalia: things scribbled in margins. There is a lot to be said for this form of literature that, to date, has been little studied: there are only a handful of books including Robin Alston’s Books with Manuscript: A Short Title Catalogue of Books with Manuscript Notes in the British Library (1994) and Henry Richards Luard’s […]

Deviant Burials September 19, 2011

Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
Deviant Burials

The dead are prepared for the after life in almost every way imaginable. In some cases they are eaten, in some cases they are burnt, in some cases they are fed to animals, in some cases they are embalmed and in some cases they are buried in the ground. Beach has not yet come across […]

Plagiarism, Sock Puppets and Wikipedia September 18, 2011

Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite
Plagiarism, Sock Puppets and Wikipedia

Here follows one of those contemporary japes which may have escaped the attention of Beach’s non-British readers: excuse the lack of history, bizarreness there is though a plenty. The story so far: Johann Hari, gifted English journalist jobbing for the rather boring but worthwhile Independent has been caught taking quotations from other authors and inserting […]

Men and Women Out of Balance September 17, 2011

Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Contemporary, Modern
Men and Women Out of Balance

A bit of a cookie-dough post today as Beachcombing tries to make sense of something that has being going around and around in his head. Last week, during the infamous hacker attack of Sept 2011, Beach noted the extraordinary gender imbalance in modern China where perhaps – the numbers are much contested – 119 boys […]

A Dragon in Medieval East Anglia September 16, 2011

Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
A Dragon in Medieval East Anglia

Beach had a fabulous evening trying to convince his elder daughter (3) that dragons do exist. This involved placing a small bean bag draco at various inaccessible points of the house and creating a domestic dragon mythology: dragons only eat salted foods; dragons hate men; dragon baby’s mothers steal keys etc etc. The picture above […]

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