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Giant Spiders in Bristol July 25, 2013

Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite, Contemporary
Giant Spiders in Bristol

Derren Brown is a gifted English mentalist and an ultra sceptic (atheist, materialist…) in the mould of the great Houdini and the sometimes great Randi. You can usually get to the bottom of DB’s tricks, which makes them all the more interesting. This is Beach’s favourite. He simultaneously plays seven chess professionals, simultaneously wins four, […]

Sex, Teachers and Students June 27, 2013

Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite
Sex, Teachers and Students

***To Bilker*** A long argument last night about the Jeremy Forrest case with an old friend and a post that strays from the pleasantly brambled paths of history, though not, sadly, from the red brick road of education. For those outside the UK Jeremy Forrest was a twenty-nine-year-old teacher who had an affair with his […]

Magonia #9: The Myth Continues June 21, 2013

Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite, Medieval, Modern
Magonia #9: The Myth Continues

As access to information gets easier, and there was a huge-internet powered jump in the 1990s, then surely the information available to us should become more accurate, right? Easier to check facts, easier to be checked… Not a bit of it. As information becomes more accessible then more people have more access to information and […]

Totoro and Kiki: A Tribute June 17, 2013

Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite
Totoro and Kiki: A Tribute

  ***Dedicated to little Miss Beachcombing who makes 5 today and who Beach will be spoiling for the next hours*** Ghibli is a Japanese cartoon studio that has, in the last thirty years, created two of the greatest films for children and two of the greatest fairy/witch films ever made: Totoro (1988) and Kiki (1989). […]

Dowry Fossil May 13, 2013

Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite, Ancient, Medieval, Modern
Dowry Fossil

  A wrong time post… There are few things in history as fascinating as the archaic customs that have been handed down from generation to generation and that survive in our societies like the tail-bone’s pointy edge on our spines. A particular Beachcombian favourite is the dowry. Civilisations basically fall into three categories here: those […]

Academic Quotations from Aged Newspapers May 8, 2013

Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite, Modern
Academic Quotations from Aged Newspapers

There follows what may be the most boring post ever put up here. Apologies ahead of time: I tried to make the title as tedious as possible to keep thrillseekers and glue-sniffers away. First, some background. In the last two years I have published half a dozen academic articles that include or, in two cases, […]

Grazing Sheep, Rutting Tortoises and Academic Books May 5, 2013

Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite
Grazing Sheep, Rutting Tortoises and Academic Books

Beach is presently reading an academic book that cost 105 dollars. There are 384 pages in said book, which means that purchasers will be expected to pay a little over 50 cents for each leaf of paper (front and back). Strangely, Beach is not bitter about the reading experience because (i) the book is a […]

‘Bloody Foreigners’ and English April 23, 2013

Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite, Medieval, Modern
'Bloody Foreigners' and English

The British are often characterized as being insular, stand-offish and suspicious of outsiders.  And Beach has recently been fascinated by how this parochialism (which is at least partly based in fact) has left traces in the English language and more particularly in the words that English uses for nationality. It should be said, first of […]

Fairies, Children of the Forest and Game of Thrones April 20, 2013

Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite, Medieval
Fairies, Children of the Forest and Game of Thrones

Beach’s students this semester constrained him to read Game of Thrones and the subsequent avalanche of books which followed on. Are these books any good? Mixed feelings. However, one thing is certain, this blogger’s normal irritation at fantasy fiction wasn’t activated: perhaps because most of the novels are about humans being nasty to each other […]

Why Isn’t Modern Fairy Fiction Frightening? April 5, 2013

Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite, Contemporary
Why Isn't Modern Fairy Fiction Frightening?

In appalling fevered sleeps during a recent bout of flu – an approximation of hell – Beach dreamt constantly of fairies and witches. This had nothing to do with two fairy horror books he had supplied himself with – Graham Joyce’s The Tooth Fairy (1999) and A Kind of Enchantment (2012) – and everything, instead, […]

Review: Secret of Kells March 31, 2013

Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite
Review: Secret of Kells

Part of being a twenty-first century parent involves the ability to watch cartoons repeatedly with your children (discuss). Most of these cartoons are trash. A minority are witty: Mega Mind, Toy Story… And a  handful – Shrek, Bambi, Totoro, Kiki the Witch… – make modern art house films look like third-rate romantic comedies: they really […]

History and Teenagers March 9, 2013

Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite
History and Teenagers

The majority of readers of this blog are from North America and so they might not be aware that historians in Britain are presently fighting each other. The question that is causing all the raucous is how teens should be taught about history: the battlefield is British history but there is clearly here a much […]

The Voting Diaspora February 24, 2013

Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite
The Voting Diaspora

A diaspora is, of course, the citizens of a country who live outside their homeland but who still have a strong or residual loyalty to the patria. Diasporas have long mattered in history because they end up influencing the foreign policy of their adopted countries and, all too often, the domestic agendas of their countries […]

Love Goddess #7: The I-Love-You Wall February 23, 2013

Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite
Love Goddess #7: The I-Love-You Wall

The latest in the Love Goddesses series is this wonderful shrine to carnal and spiritual soul-touching that appeared in the city of love, Paris, in Montmartre no less, in 2000. The artist, Frédéric Baron, assembled the words ‘I love you’ in 311 languages (280 by some counts) and then got a colleague and ‘oriental calligrapher’ […]

Italy’s Weird Languages February 4, 2013

Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite, Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
Italy's Weird Languages

Italy is chaotic not just in day-to-day but also in geographical terms. The Apennines that come down from the Alps dominate most of the country and separate out the peninsula into two hundred semi-independent shangrilas. The result is that Italy has always been doomed to social, cultural and linguistic division. Italian itself, the ‘dialect’ of […]

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