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Accidental Hanky Panky in Late Nineteenth-Century Ireland August 31, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
Accidental Hanky Panky in Late Nineteenth-Century Ireland

This was a cute little story that turns up in a late nineteenth-century folklore collection from Ireland. A visitor is out and about looking for the ‘bed’ of ‘Dermot and Grania’, the mossy bower where a mythical couple from Irish legend escape to love and live away from society. Dermot for those who have never […]

The USS Charleston Says Hello with Gunpowder August 30, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
The USS Charleston Says Hello with Gunpowder

Beach has been negligent in his duties in the last three weeks, particularly where comments are concerned. However, he’s going to try and make up for this in the next 48 hours by going through several hundred emails – sorry! – and splashing print everywhere. His excuse for this negligence? Well, he’s written half a […]

Eating Prisoners of War? Ten Thousand Years of ‘I Surrender’ August 29, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Contemporary, Medieval, Modern, Prehistoric
Eating Prisoners of War? Ten Thousand Years of 'I Surrender'

***This post is dedicated to A.G. who sent in the following question*** A.G. writes ‘I have often wondered what happened to the wounded left behind during the Napoleonic wars and earlier.  Did the locals come along and kill them for their personal belongings, were they cared for and held for ransom, what? I am speaking […]

Ireland the Great and White Man’s Land August 28, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
http://www.nicolaasart.com/art_series_deep_blue_above.php

Beachcombing woke up this morning with Vikings on his mind – a migraine coming? – and so thought that he would visit one of his favourite northern stories/legends/cobblers: Great Ireland. The reference appears in Landnámabók the thirteenth-century ‘ancestral’ codex of Iceland. How much is history and how much is legend in the Landnámabók is much […]

The Bottle Hoax August 27, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
The Bottle Hoax

A cute story that belongs to the please-let-it-be-true category of human endeavour. The Duke of Montague being in company with some other noblemen, proposed a wager, that let a man advertize to do the most impossible thing in the world, he would find fools enough in London to fill a playhouse, who would think him […]

Cursing, Roman Style August 26, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
Cursing, Roman Style

***Dedicated to Mac, Invisible and Southern Man who sent the latest British curse tablet in*** The Romans were, as is well known, good at everything. They could start land wars in Asia and win; they could sell their soul for the fruits of the known world and enjoy said fruits; they could sail to southern […]

What Makes a Good Student Historian? August 25, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite
What Makes a Good Student Historian?

What makes a good historian? Beachcombing was wondering about this as part of his preparations for the new term, now just a couple of weeks away. There is, of course, a long shopping list. But when Beach stands in front of his students on the first day of class he is always looking for two […]

Prolific Souvestre and Allain August 24, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
Prolific Souvestre and Allain

Beachcombing is back from his time at the top of the mountain. His ‘restful’ reading material there included Pierre Souvestre and Marcel Allain’s Fantômas, the first in a series of French pulp novels from the teens of the last century. For those who have not been initiated Fantômas is a master criminal who works without […]

Baring-Goulds’ Pixies August 23, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
Baring-Goulds' Pixies

Anyone interested in fairies will read in many places of Sabine Baring-Gould’s childhood encounter with pixies. But how many will have actually read the original? In an effort to correct this Beach sat this afternoon tapping out the following text only to discover that someone else got there first: a bunch of heroes over at […]

Prussians in the Frame: Brownies Out August 22, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
Prussians in the Frame: Brownies Out

Beach often shows his students WW1 and WW2 photographs in class. He lets the effect wash over them and then breaks that effect by asking them why the photograph is staged. For most of the best shots from the world wars are the invention or, at very best, the ‘reconstruction’ of photographers who were far […]

The Glut of Celebrity in Seances August 21, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
The Glut of Celebrity in Seances

Beach is a complete tyro in seances and spiritualism. But one thing he has always been struck by is the great fortune that spiritualists seem to have in getting hold of really important people. Take the following remarkable list of personalities from a nineteenth-century séance in Naples. Of the spirits who manifested three were in […]

Gluten, Famine and the Slow Crawl of Medical Knowledge August 20, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Contemporary, Modern
Gluten, Famine and the Slow Crawl of Medical Knowledge

***Beach wants to salute his readers for a couple of days as he is going on his yearly retreat (hermit’s cave etc): he’ll see you on the other side, if the wolves don’t come*** Wheat is the grain of the west. The crop that has followed Europeans wherever they have gone for the simple reason […]

Capital Punishment Cobblers August 19, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
Capital Punishment Cobblers

A cute little story from France a country which seems to attract a lot of urban myths around judicial execution: the majesty of the guillotine? Many years ago, a celebrated French physician, author of an excellent work on the effects of Imagination, wished to combine theory with practice, in order to confirm the truth of […]

Closing Door Erotica August 18, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
Closing Door Erotica

Beach would like to start by apologising for this post. Like so many things that appear here it just won’t get out of his head. Erotics… Beachcombing is on the search for the most erotic passage, but… So this is the thing. It is easy to cut and paste from My Secret Life or Fanny […]

Baal Cobblers and a Remarkable Survival August 17, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite, Modern

***aaargh the internet goblins are back, no image as this comes out by dial up – remember that?***   Baal was a semitic God with unfortunate habits. By one of those bizarre confusions of etymology that characterise the eighteenth and the nineteenth century he came to be associated with Britain: something a little like situating […]

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