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Horror and Gore in Children’s Histories May 31, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite, Contemporary
Horror and Gore in Children's Histories

  ***Dedicated to a suffering Little Miss B*** Beachombing’s eldest daughter (4) has recently begun to appreciate her nation’s past. This would be fascinating  in itself. But it has become a haunting replay of Beach’s own childhood because Beach (good historian that he is) saved his own childhood reads and is now sharing them with […]

Two Thousand Infants Sold to Russia for Human Sacrifice May 30, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Medieval, Modern, Prehistoric
Two Thousand Infants Sold to Russia for Human Sacrifice

***Dedicated to Wade who sent the relevant passage in*** The custom of burying infant children in the foundations of new buildings was well established in prehistoric, ancient and even (gulp) medieval times. The bigger and more important a building the more likely it was to a have a tot dropped in the cement. It is […]

Dare-Nots May 29, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
Dare-Nots

Beach fluttered around the edges of an Italian project a few years ago that affected him profoundly. A series of interviews were collected from families who had suffered violence at the hands of the partisans at the end of the Second World War. The vast majority of these partisans, particularly in Emiglia-Romagna and Tuscany, had been […]

Seventeenth-Century English Dragons May 28, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
Seventeenth-Century English Dragons

Beachcombing recently highlighted the case of a giant serpent in nineteenth-century Devon, a snake that was as thick as a thigh. Beach had assumed that this was a one off, but now he is wondering as he found a second reference to go with it. This one comes from a pamphlet with a straight-to-the-point title: The […]

The Wandering Jew in Burnley May 27, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
The Wandering Jew in Burnley

Today it is the turn of the Wandering Jew. For those who have never met him WJ refused to help Christ (as he was carrying his cross) or made fun of Jesus as he hung between the thieves. This proved a bad idea. WJ now meanders cursed around the globe and will do so until […]

Cellini and the Salamander May 26, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
Cellini and the Salamander

***Dedicated to Michael F who sent this in*** We last saw Benvenuto Cellini (obit 1571) imprinted on a French/Spanish/Scottish canon. Fourteen months on, here is a little doodle from Cellini’s infancy, judging by his autobiography the happiest years of his chaotic life. When I was about five years old [c. 1505] my father happened to […]

The Talking Dog and King’s Fellow May 25, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
The Talking Dog and King's Fellow

Horror upon horrors, today is tax day in the Beachcombing household. Somewhere in this study there are the various documents that justify Beach’s fiscal probity and he must now find them. The next twelve hours will be the most tedious  of the year. Forgive then a small post as Beach plunges into the piles of […]

The Problem with Sea Apes May 24, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite, Contemporary, Modern
The Problem with Sea Apes

***Dedicated to Andy the Mad Monk and Invisible*** Beach has, since the early days of this site, shown a persistent interest in mermaids. It would be outrageous then to pass by the important new documentary coming out (or has it already aired?) on Animal Planet. The following is borrowed from Wikipedia (courtesy of the inestimable […]

The Devil in Disney May 23, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite
The Devil in Disney

A book was recently sent anonymously to Beachcombing named The Dark Side of Disney: Utterly Unauthorised Tips, Tricks and Scams for you WDW Vacation (Leonard Kinsey). Beach cannot really write a review of said work; as he is not an expert in the field. He has very vague memories of Disney World from a childhood […]

The Postures: A Missing Erotic Classic May 22, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
The Postures: A Missing Erotic Classic

Beachcombing has often celebrated in this place lost books and burning libraries. Today he wants to celebrate a book that while not lost (it can be found in a modern edition on the top shelves of academic institutions around the world) got through to us by the skin of its erotic teeth. Beach refers, of course, to  I […]

Marco Polo and Pasta May 21, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
Marco Polo and Pasta

***Dedicated to Zach Nowak and Beach’s good friends over at FoodinItaly*** The lunatic idea that Marco Polo brought back spaghetti from China to grateful Italians is a modern food myth. There is no proof for this in MP’s writing: though there is an interpolated passage that might have started the confusion. In fact, the idea […]

Self-Immolation Duc-Style May 20, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
Self-Immolation Duc-Style

When Beachcombing first courted Mrs B he used to play elaborate ‘wind-ups’, trying to convince his darling of the impossible. Perhaps his favourite was the time he ‘explained’ how the widow of an Indian immigrant in Britain had decided to burn herself suttee-style on the funeral pyre of her husband, in Parliament Square. There had, […]

Transvestite President? May 19, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
Transvestite President?

Beachcombing isn’t big on cross-dressing but this fabulous pastiche of poor old Jefferson Davies’ capture caught his attention. Some accounts – Union accounts it should be noted – claim that Jefferson tried to escape wearing his wife’s clothing. This comes from the New York Times. To Maj. Hudson was given the duty of surrounding the […]

Shape-Shifting in a Nineteenth-Century Court-Room May 18, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
Shape-Shifting in a Nineteenth-Century Court-Room

Beachcombing has visited the Isle of Man on several occasions in this blog (he has only been once physically): there was the mermaid sighting from an early submarine, the drunk Manx buggan, and the early medieval kingdom of Mannau. But he is confident that this story will trump them all. Our author has been describing […]

Immortal Meals 9#: The Discovery of Nero’s Rotating Dining Room? May 17, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
Immortal Meals 9#: The Discovery of Nero's Rotating Dining Room?

Beach’s reading today comes from Suetonius’ Lives of the Caesars, Nero (31) There was nothing however in which [Nero] was more ruinously prodigal than in building. He made a palace extending all the way from the Palatine to the Esquiline, which at first he called the House of Passage, but when it was burned shortly […]

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