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  • Napoleon in a Pot January 16, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Napoleon in a Pot

    Anyone who love history has a little black list of people they would have gladly have seen choked at birth: Hitler, Ida Amin, Verdi… Fairly close to the top of Beachcombing’s is that jumped-up world destroyer Napoleon Bonaparte, a man who ‘could by industrious valour climb/ To ruin the work of time/ And cast the […]

    Throne Room Tricks January 15, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    Throne Room Tricks

    Beachcombing previously had some fun describing the tricks the ‘civilised’ use to frighten ‘savages’ in jungles and deserts far from the capital cities of Europe. But what about – today’s subject – the tricks that the civilised used when ‘savages’ came to visit them on home ground. Take, for example, the shenanigans found in the […]

    Mermaids, Ahoy! January 14, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Mermaids, Ahoy!

    Beachcombing still hyperventilating from the terrifying task of talking in front of 200 plus ‘new’ students yesterday. Only syllabus writing is worse. Anyway, back to the far more serious task of charting the perversions of the human imagination. Beachcombing had been going to spend the Christmas holidays writing serious academic ‘stuff’ about Marco Polo. But, […]

    Israel Saved by the Soviets in 1973? January 13, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Israel Saved by the Soviets in 1973?

    In 1948, 1967 and 1973 Israel fought wars that could conceivably have seen the destruction not only of the Israeli state but also of the Jewish community in Palestine. None of these wars came closer to Arab success than the last, the Yom Kippur war. Egypt and Syria (with Iraqi backing) managed to achieve almost […]

    An Eagle, A Basket and A Boy January 12, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    An Eagle, A Basket and A Boy

    Beachcombing probably owes his ever patient readers an apology today. This post hardly counts as bizarre history: but there are eagles (much visited in previous posts, particularly involving children being carried away) and a young man’s hair turning white and a classy illustration to go with it. The story relates to the West of Ireland […]

    Jesus Lived to 114 in Japan! January 11, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Contemporary
    Jesus Lived to 114 in Japan!

    Beach has long been hearing rumours that Jesus Christ was actually buried in an obscure Japanese village of Shingo. But it was only this morning that he finally decided to climb up this particular mountain of madness and see what was really happening up in the mists. According to local ‘tradition’ (always a slippery word) […]

    Outlaws on Ice January 10, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Outlaws on Ice

    Beachcombing has just, through extraordinary and characteristic, incompetence lost a week of his life. He thought that he began teaching the 23 Jan, when, instead, it seems that he is to start on the 16. He now has two days to write three academic articles. Given this emergency situation he was planning (ha!) to type […]

    Medieval Dog-Heads: An Eye-Witness Report January 9, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    Medieval Dog-Heads: An Eye-Witness Report

    An interesting passage from the Itinerarium of Friar Odoric (obit 1331), a pioneering Italian traveller in Asia: Odoric may have been the first European to reach Lhasa. He certainly stood before the great Khan and penetrated China. He also visited the south seas. The island of Moumoran has never been satisfactorily identified but probably lies […]

    Plotinus Meets a God January 8, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    Plotinus Meets a God

    A WIBT (Wish I’d been there) moment from later antiquity, brought to mind, in part by stories at the end of 2011 about Socrate’s daemon. The subject is Plotinus, a follower of Plato and the thinker who offered the ancient Mediterranean a ‘sensible’ alternative to Christianity: neo-platonism. Plotinus, as all Platonists, had mixed feelings about […]

    Accidentally Obscene January 7, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
    Accidentally Obscene

    The Belfast Telegraph recently ran a story on the Limerick town of Effin – named for St Eimhin no less! ‘Ann Marie Kennedy is proud to live in Effin – and now she has launched an online campaign to have Facebook recognise the town whose name was blacklisted for being too offensive [urban dictionary]. Ann […]

    Epiphany Gift to Readers: Scary Fairies PDF January 6, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Epiphany Gift to Readers: Scary Fairies PDF

    Scary Fairies… While Barrie, Nesbit and others were trying to anodize* and castrate fairies c. 1900 out in the wilds of Britain, Man and Ireland there will still those who were terrified of the elfen beggars. This terror finds a little known reflex in the literature of the time. Various authors including Buchan, Machen, Le […]

    Snakes, Fairies and St Patrick January 5, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    Snakes, Fairies and St Patrick

    A lead up to tomorrow’s epiphany gift to all readers: Scary Fairies: the Proto Edition. Bede begins his Ecclesiastical History of the English in 731 with a geographical overview of the island of Britain and also, given its importance in the conversion of the English to Christianity, Ireland. It is a memorable passage not least […]

    The Earliest Roman Ghost in Britain January 4, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    The Earliest Roman Ghost in Britain

    Owen Davies in his fascinating The Haunted: A Social History of Ghosts notes the way that strangely (or obviously if you are a sceptic like Beachcombing) ghosts follow the fashions and interests of their times. Take OD’s thoughts, for example, on Roman ghosts in the UK. The most recent addition to the corpus of heritage […]

    Electrocuting African Tribal Hosts January 3, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Electrocuting African Tribal Hosts

    One of the great challenges of any nineteenth-century explorers was to make friends with the ‘primitives’ in such out of the way places as an equatorial rain forest, the upper peaks of the Andes and through much of Darkest Africa. And, of course, to do so they brought gifts along with them: a sensible enough […]

    A Surprise at Apple Down Cemetery January 2, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
    A Surprise at Apple Down Cemetery

    There is a cute game that academics play where the more exciting the results of your research the more boring your abstract must be. Take the following tedious example from the 2011 American Journal of Physical Anthropology. Read through the miasma of low-key, lead on sentences and consider what an extraordinary discovery has allegedly been […]

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