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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 […]

Review: Running with the Fairies January 28, 2013

Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite, Contemporary
Review: Running with the Fairies

Scholarly fairy books are rare indeed: they average at about one every four years. Not many at all when you think that a score of volumes on Vietnam are published each month. This infrequency means that it is always extremely exciting when a new member of the fairy family shuffles onto the stage. So, with […]

Love Goddess #6: All Hail Northumberlandia! January 24, 2013

Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite, Medieval
Love Goddess #6: All Hail Northumberlandia!

***Dedicated to Invisible*** Part of humanity’s long flirtation with the landscape has been the idea that a given locality is a woman. While not universal this repeats itself in many religious systems and sometimes has even made its way into the modern world through placenames. So, in Britain hill, mountain and spur names frequently refer […]

CCSVI: The Limits of Placebo January 5, 2013

Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite
CCSVI: The Limits of Placebo

CCSVI is a medical condition that may or that may not explain one of the most mysterious and debilitating illnesses on the planet, Multiple Sclerosis. We look at it here because it is yet another example of a strange-history theme, the difficulty that new knowledge has in emerging against a strong orthodoxy, something that is […]

The Black Dossier and an Invisible Library January 2, 2013

Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite
The Black Dossier and an Invisible Library

Invisible Libraries, veterans of this site will know, are libraries that have only ever existed in the human imagination. Previous examples have included: Dickens’ study door, volumes in a computer game (Skyrim) and H.P. Lovecraft’s extra horrors, alluded to throughout his opera. Today’s new contribution are Alan Moore’s fantasy titles offered in his Black Dossier, […]

Roman and Medieval Vineyards in Chilly Britain December 24, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite, Ancient, Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
Roman and Medieval Vineyards in Chilly Britain

Let’s face it. If you want a good wine the last thing you will do is head off to the supermarket and buy an English brand. The idea is almost comic. French, Italian, yes. Australian, Californian, Hungarian, perhaps. But English grapes freezing their pips off on a vine in the Midlands, where not enough sun […]

Love Goddess 4#: Juliet, Verona and the Invention of Love December 23, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite, Modern
Love Goddess 4#: Juliet, Verona and the Invention of Love

***One more chapter to go… Sorry again for answered emails. Also the internet connection is playing up so this may be the last chance I have to write before Christmas. If so happy Noel*** Traditions are invented constantly and love is a major human interest: hence the custom in Verona Italy of leaving love letters […]

Lazarus Plants December 17, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite, Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
Lazarus Plants

When we think of the vegetables, flowers and fruit of our ancestors we probably most easily imagine students with trowels retrieving pips from coprolites: not a happy occupation. But actually there is another kind of retrieval and that is sending botanists out into the woods and fields to look for any plants that have somehow […]

Ponte Vecchio: Love Goddess # 3 December 12, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite
Ponte Vecchio: Love Goddess # 3

Ponte Vecchio’s transformation from kitschy chocolate box cover medieval bridge to unlikely love goddess was unexpected. But it has happened nonetheless. In the last ten years many young Tuscan couples have made the pilgrimage there to cement their love. The ritual is long and complicated. The couple in question first go to a hardware store […]

Music in the Woods and Vocation December 7, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite, Contemporary
Music in the Woods and Vocation

A Jungian psychologist somewhere on the west coast of the US has a patient, an elderly woman who feels dissatisfied with her life, which she believes that she has wasted. After hours of going through her past he comes to what he believes was the key moment. In her childhood she had been out playing […]

Alwyn Ruddock: Enemy of History? November 28, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite, Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
Alwyn Ruddock: Enemy of History?

You have worked your entire life researching a given area of history. However, you have published barely anything waiting to write your ‘big book’, the one that you will be remembered by. The years pass and the book does not materialise and then comes your final illness… What will you do with the seventy odd […]

Wynne’s Madonna at Ely: Love Goddess 2# November 26, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite
Wynne's Madonna at Ely: Love Goddess 2#

Ely Cathedral is one of the great works of English civilisation. Approached by car or on foot over the flatlands of East Anglia it surges above the landscape. In fact, ‘the ship of the Fens’ is one of the few churches that can be enjoyed from a distance: so often we are reduced to glancing […]

Families and the Durability of Memory November 22, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite, Contemporary, Modern
Families and the Durability of Memory

How long can memories remain in a family? We have played these games before, of course. Just a couple of weeks ago Beach was imagining his daughter telling his great great grandchildren about the time their great, great, great, great grandfather survived an Italian attack in the Mediterranean, a hundred and fifty years after the […]

Wikipedia Comes of Age: Wincest, Exobiddling, Osloed and Getting Wilked October 27, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite
Wikipedia Comes of Age: Wincest, Exobiddling, Osloed and Getting Wilked

About ten years ago the present author was asked to present a paper on a medieval Christian thinker at an international conference. He began his talk that day by mocking Wikipedia’s treatment of said Christian thinker and got some cheap laughs. Last weekend in a melancholy mood – another decade of his life steamed off […]

The Last of 2973 October 24, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite, Contemporary
The Last of 2973

From June to September 1940 2937 pilots flew in RAF fighters to retain British air superiority over the Home Counties in a scrap that has been remembered by history as ‘the Battle of Britain’. Immortalized by Churchill as ‘the few’ these men have come, even more than the Dunkirk-bound BEF, to symbolise the British achievement […]

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