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  • Mussolini and the Water Sprinkler November 14, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Mussolini and the Water Sprinkler

    There are few things in life sweeter than self important people being made to look silly. The picture above is one of this blogger’s favourite. The subject is, of course, Benito Mussolini, in the mid, late 1930s.* A group of Fascist dignitaries are prancing up some steps at the Foro Italico: but not all is […]

    The History of the Playpen November 2, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    The History of the Playpen

    The playpen originated when a hunter-gatherer mother realized, many thousands of years ago, that she could keep her child in a safe corner of the cave with a simple barrier. But when did the business of playpens becomes serious, when were the first commercial models available in the shops? Beach set himself the task of trying […]

    Index Biography #47: Prize a book October 31, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Index Biography #47: Prize a book

    ***Melissa gets it, scroll down for the 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 […]

    Portuguese Werewolf October 30, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Portuguese Werewolf

    This note was published in Folklore in 1942 by, of all people, Violet Alford, one of a handful of impressive interwar British folklorists. Following Professor Hutton’s Presidential Address on Werewolves, this note may be of interest. An English friend, born and brought up in Portugal, remembers, when she was about seven years old, the mysterious […]

    Roy Vickery, the Green Man October 24, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Roy Vickery, the Green Man

    Much of British folklore has been carefully curated and packed into volumes on library shelves: but most of British folklore lies, in truth, uncollected out in the fields. This brings us to one of the heroes of modern British folklore, Roy Vickery. RV is a botanist with a long-term interest in the folklore of plants: […]

    Best Ghost Story: Paris Station Ghost October 8, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Best Ghost Story: Paris Station Ghost

    This is one of the very best ghost stories: partly because of how its written; partly because of how difficult it is to explain away. The author is Shane Leslie, an Irish member of the British establishment in the 1920s and 1930s, a cousin of Churchill and a witty and delightfully gossipy talker. He had […]

    The Scholar Who Went with the Fairies October 5, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    The Scholar Who Went with the Fairies

    Peter Alderson Smith is an English scholar who in 1987 wrote a really very good book on Irish fairies: W. B. Yeats and the Tribes of Danu. In the middle of the book there is one of these passages where you think: what?!? Beach to help inattentive readers has italicized the relevant clause. Note that […]

    Index Biography #46: Prize a book September 30, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Index Biography #46: Prize a book

    Well done, Ashlyn, scroll down for the 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 […]

    A Jack the Ripper Urban Legend September 22, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    A Jack the Ripper Urban Legend

    4 Aug 1941 (barely a month into Germany’s invasion of the Soviet Union) this ‘funny story’ appeared in a London newspaper. Perhaps we should think of it as a bit of nostalgia from the times when knives not Nazi bombs were the most dangerous thing in the East End. During the scare caused by Jack […]

    The Somercotes Ghost September 12, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    The Somercotes Ghost

    An interesting ghost scare from 1930. Somercotes is a village in Derbyshire. The first report is from 9 Jul 1930. The Somercotes ghost, which caused a big scare four years ago, has apparently not been laid. This early report has proved untraceable, though in the midst of the following crisis a local confesses to having […]

    And If Your Sister Was About to Be Raped…? September 10, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    And If Your Sister Was About to Be Raped...?

    When the insufferable Lytton Strachey was asked, in WW1, what he would do if he saw a German trying to violate his sister, he responded ‘I would try and get between them.’ Strachey gave this answer in a legal setting. He wanted to be certified as a pacifist and Beach was curious about the question, […]

    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 […]

    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 […]

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