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  • Index Biography #45: Prize a book August 31, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Index Biography #45: Prize a book

    ***Chris got this, scroll down for answer*** The Index Biography is a quiz pioneered by this blog and introduced in a previous post. The creator must find a biography of a famous individual from history, they must turn to the index and write down eight peripheral facts about the individual’s life. We offered up previously here Sheridan […]

    Review: A Cabinet of Byzantine Curiosities August 30, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Medieval
    Review: A Cabinet of Byzantine Curiosities

    Anthony Kaldellis, A Cabinet of Byzantine Curiosities: Strange Tales and Surprising Facts from History’s Most Orthodox Empire (OUP 2017) Between about 1880 and 1960 British and American publishers occasionally brought out curiosity books in small print runs by capable people. These books were on delightful but inconsequential subjects: the eccentricities of Chinese court etiquette; descriptions of […]

    The Nun, the Pickpocket and the French Prison August 29, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The Nun, the Pickpocket and the French Prison

    Beach began to write about pickpockets some years ago because of their habit of attracting urban legends. However, he is ever more convinced that there are some good books to be written on the sly-fingered Victorian professionals who plagued London and Paris… Interestingly, English pickpockets were exported to France and the word ‘pickpocket’ was taken […]

    Mermaid Monday: Red Hair Off Mull August 28, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Mermaid Monday: Red Hair Off Mull

    Mermaid Monday again and this week we have a marvel from Mull, a Scottish island in the Inner Hebrides. Note that the Ross of Mull is the neck of land stretching towards Iona and that Beach’s rudimentary Gaelic show two islands with the name Eilean Dubh, the Black Island: one at the centre of the […]

    Transvestite Hunt for Fake Ghost August 27, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Transvestite Hunt for Fake Ghost

    In some ways this is a normal nineteenth century ghost story: we are in 1836. A man dresses up as a ghost; he scares some people; a group of toughs go out and look for him; it ends in tears: the story is entitled, be warned, ‘flogging a ghost’. However, this one has some special […]

    In Search of the Droll-Teller August 26, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    In Search of the Droll-Teller

    The droll tellers were the bards of modern Cornwall. Droll-teller. An itinerant story-teller, news-monger, and fiddler, who travelled from town to town, and village to village. There were two such in Cornwall as late as 1829. In 1865 Robert Hunt gives a description of one of these droll-tellers from an informants who is presumably remembering […]

    The End of German Bohemia, May 1945 August 25, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    The End of German Bohemia, May 1945

    Thanks to Stephen D. for sending in this extraordinary video of the disintegration of German Bohemia in May 1945. Bohemia was a mixed Czech-German province and German speakers had lived there since perhaps as early as the year 1000. Bohemia became part of the Czech Republic after the First World War, and the ‘cause’ of […]

    Letter from the Enemy August 23, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Letter from the Enemy

    Beach ran across this very sad piece in the Dundee Evening Telegraph (8 Oct 1915), 4. It is perhaps not remarkable that an enemy soldier honour the body of a fallen foe: who is it who says that you can best measure relations in a war not by how soldier treat their enemies alive but […]

    The Death of the Bogeyman August 22, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    The Death of the Bogeyman

    The bogeyman was the monster conjured up by parents in times gone by to terrify their children. Here is a paragraph published in Britain in 1887 by some frightful progressive. Boggard is a local Yorkshire version of the same and the writer gives a good sense of how bogey was deployed. It was a common […]

    New England Mermaid August 21, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    New England Mermaid

    Beach has been worrying a lot about mermaids in the holidays. He thought he would shared with readers some fine old mermaid stories from his archives most Mondays this semester: Mermaid Monday is born. Here is an 1883 record from New England. Note that it appeared in the British newspapers via the Toronto Mail! A […]

    Review: Les Compagnons August 20, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    Review: Les Compagnons

    The Hundred Years War in France and three damaged people are thrown together by events: the grand-daughter of a witch; a knight with half his face burnt off; and a cowardly young man. The knight leads them on a trail across the burning countryside. He is clearly rushing towards his destruction. The young man and […]

    Winged Ninth-Century Elves?! August 19, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    Winged Ninth-Century Elves?!

    Beach has previously interested himself with winged fairies and today he came across this very early image from the Utrecht Psalter. The Utrecht Psalter was almost certainly created in northern France in the ninth century and has fabulous line drawings that will bring you as close as you will ever come to the early Middle Ages: Beach […]

    The Man Who Wore His Wife August 17, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The Man Who Wore His Wife

    You could fill a large book with anecdotes, urban legends and folk tales about rings. Most fall fairly effortlessly into certain categories: lost ring found; ring makes wearer invisible; ring cut from corpse’s finger… However, here is one of its kind: husband wears wife. Beach has had a five day holiday and this was a […]

    Married Life with a Mermaid: Six Useful Rules August 14, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Married Life with a Mermaid: Six Useful Rules

    Paracelsus (obit 1541) was a Swiss German who had strong interests in science and the supernatural: though, of course, for dear old Paracelsus they were one and the same thing, the natural world. In Paracelsus’ writings there is a good deal of material on what we would call fairies, mermaids and other goblins. Paracelsus has […]

    Jury Hell in 1995 August 13, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Jury Hell in 1995

    Beach has previously, on this site, looked at truly awful jobs (the Worst Career in History tag): including Japanese Prime Ministers, Knocker ups, Scottish Kings and Water Thief Watchers. However, he has recently come across, with some excitement, a new chamber in hell: namely, jury duty on the O. J. Simpson trial, Jan 25, 1995 – […]

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