jump to navigation
  • Owen’s Untimely Death January 31, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Owen's Untimely Death

      There are occasional micro moments in history that are so extraordinary painful to read about that they strangely dwarf greater tragedies such as the liquidation of a ghetto, the dropping of an atom bomb or the sinking of a cruise-liner. One of these micro tragedies that has been bobbing in and out of Beachcombing’s […]

    The Decline of the Public Domain January 30, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite
    The Decline of the Public Domain

    Beachcombing, like many aging ideologues, can no longer bring himself to care about things that used to give his teenage self heartburn. But, there are a few exceptions – identity cards, Brussels delenda est, reptile road-crossing tunnels… – that buzz him into life. Not least among these and particularly associated in his mind with this […]

    An Overlong Name January 29, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    An Overlong Name

    Another of Beachcombing’s deities died this morning: the small Welsh village of Llanfairpwllgwyngyll-gogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch (Anglesey) well known in Britain as having the longest name in the country, if not the world. Of course, a moment’s consideration should have told Beach that something fishy was going on; instead, he had innocently let the name be, reasoning that […]

    Ancient Laughter, Modern Bewilderment January 28, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    Ancient Laughter, Modern Bewilderment

    Humour, it is sometimes said, is the most socially dependent aspect of literature. The gags that set William Shakespeare’s audience laughing now, very often, leave us shivering cold. Sometimes the generational shift is there under our eyes: the jokes in 1930s movies, Will Hay for example, appear fabulous to Beach but leave his students giving […]

    The Soul Zoo January 27, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    The Soul Zoo

    So many interesting replies to recent posts to put up but little Miss B has a nasty flu so she is home from school and Beachcombing will be spending the morning with her – she is a state of such anxiety that the poor kid needs to be held at all times. Saturday seems a […]

    De Gaulle and Ike at Gettysburg January 26, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    De Gaulle and Ike at Gettysburg

    One of Beachcombing’s many files in the rusty filing cabinet in the downstairs bathroom is a surprisingly bulky: ‘battlefields after the fact’. Here there are a series of great men and women visiting the places of carnage past and reflecting on ‘the father of all things’. There are many precious references in said file including […]

    Ecdicius and the Eighteen January 25, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    Ecdicius and the Eighteen

    Beachcombing’s recent description of the Roman end times – the grinding to dust of Roman civilisation in the fifth century – got him musing on one of his favourite decline and fall scenes. The following is a letter from Sidonius Apollinaris (obit 489) to his brother-in-law Ecdicius.  He is remembering the moment some months or […]

    2012 and All That January 24, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Contemporary
    2012 and All That

    The Beachcombings’ last aupair but one wanted to go back to school and get a degree as a midwife (which in itself begs all kinds of questions) but was holding off till 2013: ‘I don’t want to waste my time if the world is about to end’ she usefully explained. Beach should add that she […]

    Remembering Bologna January 23, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Remembering Bologna

    Beachcombing doesn’t normally have much time for railway-stations, but for Bologna he’ll make an exception. It is not the edifice itself that catches his attention, but the way memory has been built into its very fabric: the memory that is of 2 August 1980. At 10.25 on the morning of that day a bomb went […]

    What Religion did Fairies Follow? January 22, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Modern
    What Religion did Fairies Follow?

    Beach’s endless reading in the literature of fairies has led him to a couple of unusual passages. He honestly doesn’t know that to make of them. In truth, they frighten him. The first is from a south-western fairy tale where a man is reunited with his ‘dead’ fiancé who is actually trapped in fairy land. […]

    Review: The Discovery of Jeanne Baret January 21, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Review: The Discovery of Jeanne Baret

    In 1766 Jeanne Baret, a young Burgundian, joined a round-the-world trip, a French mission to claim territory in the Pacific and Indian oceans. Her experiences, the subject of a recent book by Glynis Ridley, would have been remarkable in itself given her gender and the date. But as the French navy did not allow women […]

    Burning Libraries! Two Lost Folklore Collections January 20, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Burning Libraries! Two Lost Folklore Collections

    Historical blindspots: every age has them. Take the relative lack of interest in folklore prior to the eighteenth century. When folklore heats up in the later nineteenth century you cannot walk across the parlour without tripping over a book on fairies or witches. This means that anything written before say 1860 is particularly precious and any loss all […]

    Hauntings and Technology: the Teflon Effect January 19, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite, Contemporary, Modern
    Hauntings and Technology: the Teflon Effect

    Not a month ago Beachcombing reflected on the strange way that Roman ghosts are a modern invention and the way too that there are apparently fashions in which historical periods haunt and which do not. Beach thought that today he would reflect, instead, on a different but surely related phenomenon, the apparent allergy that new […]

    Medieval and Ancient Rats January 18, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Medieval
    Medieval and Ancient Rats

    One of the mysteries of the Black Death in the Middle Ages is how the victims never – with one curious Scandinavian exception – cottoned on to the fact that rodents, particularly rats were disease bearers. In some cases there were infestations of rats before the disease struck and many rats also died, which should […]

    Vintages Past January 17, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Modern
    Vintages Past

    There is a beautiful scene in the junky teen fantasy Highlander (1986) where Connor (the decapitator) opens a bottle of eighteenth-century brandy in late twentieth century New York. ‘1783’  states our hero ‘was a very good year. Mozart wrote his Great Mass. The Montgolfier brothers went up in the first hot-air balloon. And England recognized […]

    Page 1 of 3123