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  • The Index Biography #1: Prize = The Ghost Wore Black October 31, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite, Contemporary
    The Index Biography #1: Prize = The Ghost Wore Black

    ***It took just three hours for Hapax to write in with the correct solution and there is no second prize, for the answer see tomorrow’s Beachcombed** The Index Biography is a new form of biography pioneered by this blog and introduced in a previous post. The writer must find a biography of a famous individual […]

    Paranormal Smells October 10, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite, Modern
    Paranormal Smells

    Maybe it was the recent review of Thomas’ essay on farts but Beach has been obsessed with smells and paranormal experiences: perhaps in part because some neurological malfunctioning can lead to strong and unexpected smells; there is a pungent field for research there. Long, long ago we looked at a fairy bad smell story and since […]

    Cycling and Florence: To Whom Do Cities Belong? September 19, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite
    Cycling and Florence: To Whom Do Cities Belong?

    Beach has associations with several cities in central Italy. However, his favourite city, unfortunately at the very outer limits of his migration route, is Florence: once a term, oh happy day, he goes to the ‘Flowering Place’ to give a lesson for a course. There is a lot to like about Florence, but its local […]

    The Maps of Michael Izady September 15, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite, Contemporary
    The Maps of Michael Izady

    ***Thanks to Stephen D for this one!!!*** Beach loves maps, who doesn’t? But he was sceptical about Michael Izady’s efforts until he actually went to take a look at the host site. Basically MI has set himself the task of charting ethnic, linguistic and religious groups in the Middle East. For most of us that […]

    Unlucky Days: Rufus Fears Speaks September 13, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite, Ancient
    Unlucky Days: Rufus Fears Speaks

    It’s always fun when academics go off message in the middle of talks. Here is a particularly crazy example from a lecture by Rufus Fears, the celebrated classics professor and editor of Lord Acton, recorded for the Teaching Company, Famous Romans, 3. (The TC, btw, puts some great stuff out there and this series of […]

    Review: The Hikey Sprites September 12, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite, Contemporary, Modern
    Review: The Hikey Sprites

    Review of Ray Loveday, The Hikey Sprites: The Twilight of a Norfolk Tradition (Norfolk 2009) The Hikey Sprites (aka Hyter Sprites) were Norfolk fairies that were summoned up by parents and grandparents to corral children into decency: ‘you be good or the Hikeys will get you’; ‘get home before dark or the Hikeys will get […]

    The Axe Murderer Who Became A National Hero September 8, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite, Contemporary
    The Axe Murderer Who Became A National Hero

    Nations and cities have passionate rivalries with their neighbours. Beach, for example, grew up in Britain a country where national identity is based not on love of the Queen or respect for the rule of law but rather on disliking the French. However, the whole British-French thing (‘the best of enemies’) is a fairly tame […]

    Imaginary Kingdoms September 3, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite, Contemporary, Modern
    Imaginary Kingdoms

    Beach has often featured forgotten kingdoms on this blog. But what about imaginary kingdoms? There seem, in the lives of some children, to be a moment when the young create a magical world for themselves that takes on a permanent form: perhaps a more (or less?) elaborate version of the invisible friend? These are often […]

    Unripe Bananas and Almost Meeting Charles Dickens: The Index Biography September 2, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite, Contemporary
    Unripe Bananas and Almost Meeting Charles Dickens: The Index Biography

    So you want to know about a famous man or woman; you need a potted biography. You don’t have access to the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (or other national equivalents). Wikipedia is often a bit long and can be inaccurate. The Encyclopedia Britannica is worse. And you threw away your reference volumes because you […]

    Fear and Black Dogs August 30, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite, Contemporary, Modern
    Fear and Black Dogs

    Black dogs – and we’ve covered a few posts on this subject with fairy dogs and the black dog of Bungay: why are they so frightening? Ian McEwan’s best novel is probably Black Dogs in which idealism destroys evil catches the terror of big black canines perfectly. But Beach was terrified too in his recent […]

    Totalitarian Bizarreness August 29, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite, Contemporary
    Totalitarian Bizarreness

    Beach isn’t a big fan of totalitarian regimes, but in the defence of those sorry little (and occasionally big) regimes they do make for bizarre news stories. For example, the rumour is just coming in, via South Korea, that the Great Leader in the north has wiped out much of NK’s pop singing community. Among […]

    Knock on Wood/Head August 23, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite, Contemporary, Modern
    Knock on Wood/Head

    Victorian and, to a lesser extent, Edwardian writers loved explaining superstitions with bold comparative examples, sweeping generalizations and daring exegeses. However, more recent scholars have been less sure of our ability to unpick  the origin of our taboos. Take this brief passage on superstition from Keith Thomas in his Decline (747-748): The virtue attributed to […]

    Fairy Knick Knacks: The Five Strangest August 21, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite
    Fairy Knick Knacks: The Five Strangest

    Beach has had a couple of trippy days looking for unusual fairy gifts for a close friend. In doing so he began to understand what a truly strange yet enchanting world modern fairy enthusiasts inhabit. Here are Beach’s top five favourite fairy gifts for the Celtic Faery Shaman who has everything. Enjoy. In fifth place […]

    The Golden Ghost of Mold #5: Against the Golden Ghost! August 20, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite, Contemporary, Modern, Prehistoric
    The Golden Ghost of Mold #5: Against the Golden Ghost!

    An attempt follows to draw the not-so-golden threads of the Golden Ghost together.  We have definite evidence from Rev. Clough that in 1833 when the grave was dug that there was the story in the locality of a golden ghost associated with the tomb. However, there are a number of problems with this. First, only […]

    Do Black Dogs (with burning eyes) Hate Fairies? August 19, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite, Contemporary, Modern
    Do Black Dogs (with burning eyes) Hate Fairies?

      Beach is very gradually dipping his big toe into the world of black dogs: those fearsome creatures with eyes as big as saucers burning like fire seen out and about in the British countryside. The key guide is Trubshaw’s Explore Phantom Black Dogs that has a number of fascinating essays including an introduction by  […]

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