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  • The Eighteen Year Old Problem: Murder in WW2 France January 27, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    The Eighteen Year Old Problem: Murder in WW2 France

    Beach had, as a historically-inclined teenager, a recurrent dream, where he was on an island in a lake and a Viking boat full of blond psychos was coming toward him (and there was nowhere to go and nowhere to hide). The extract below has something of the same terrible inevitability. Certainly, having read this a […]

    The Mystery of Ghost Riots January 20, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    The Mystery of Ghost Riots

    This blog has reported many historical ghost stories over the year. Now it is time for a bit of reflection. Let’s pretend that your neighbour John Smith on Treacle Row in London, has reported that he has seen a ghost in a flowing gown running up and down the stairs. Now think carefully about this […]

    Churchill in Antwerp Mystery: Hunt the Photograph January 17, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Churchill in Antwerp Mystery: Hunt the Photograph

    Invisible an old and dear friend of this blog has sent the following story in from an American newspaper, Evening Ledger, 20 Oct 1914. The problem is the story was not published with the photograph in question: why publish a story if you have to describe rather than print the snap? The one above is […]

    Forgot the Damn Suicide Pills! January 16, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Forgot the Damn Suicide Pills!

    Perhaps you need a British sense of humour, but this scene had Beach smiling more than potential death scenes normally do. It is D-Day and General Donovan (pictured) and Colonel David Bruce the narrator have to undertake a special mission in the French interior just off the D-Day beaches (they have been landed at Utah), […]

    Forgotten Kingdoms: The Republic of Montefiorino January 14, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Forgotten Kingdoms: The Republic of Montefiorino

    Another for the forgotten kingdom files, this time a particularly short lived example from Italy: the rulers of the Republic of Montefiorino managed about six weeks in 1944 before history and German flame-throwers intervened. First, some background. In the summer of 1943 Mussolini’s fascist government crumbled and Italy found itself occupied by angry Allies in […]

    Seven German Mistakes that Lost the Great War January 10, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Seven German Mistakes that Lost the Great War

    Germany went to war in August 1914 to bloody Russia, put Britain back in its place and break France’s back. Looking at their war record, after a century, what is striking is just how close Germany came to achieving at least a relative victory. Yet Germany’s leadership was not up to the job: this is clearer […]

    Naked Fertility Rituals from Missouri January 8, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Naked Fertility Rituals from Missouri

    Imagine these three scenes all from Ozark country in Missouri: A man and a woman walk into a flax field naked chanting, while throwing seeds, ‘Up to my ass, an’ higher too!’ The man throws the seed against the woman’s buttocks. ‘Then they just laid down on the ground and had a good time.’ Date: […]

    The Mystery of the Fairy Battery January 5, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    The Mystery of the Fairy Battery

    Here is a place and a name that is hard to account for. On the 1850 Ordinance Survey map for Lancashire (79) there is a peculiar rock formation with the words Fairy Battery by the side. This is on Lowe Hill to the north of Turton and Entwistle Resevoir (already built in 1850). There follows […]

    Chime Hours and Chime Children January 3, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Chime Hours and Chime Children

    The ‘chime child’ was born at a magic time of the night (the times varied but involved bells). She or he had psychic abilities; think of it as a temporal version of the seventh son or the caul. The idea of chime children has become an increasingly popular one in recent years. Beach typed in […]

    Immortal Meals #19: Rum Up at Harewood House January 2, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Immortal Meals #19: Rum Up at Harewood House

    ***Dedicated to Chris who sent this one in*** The year is 1805, the month December and the location Harewood House, a delightful stately house near Leeds, Yorkshire. The cellar records have a special note for this meal as something extraordinary happened there. The Lascelles family, who had built and owned Harewood, ordered up eight bottles […]

    The Ghosts of Children Past December 30, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite, Contemporary
    The Ghosts of Children Past

    Beach has spent a lazy Christmas trying to get to know his new daughter and trying to stop his two elder daughters from killing ‘baby': ‘can I carry her up the stairs’, ‘but I thought she would like to eat a carrot’ etc etc. All this primed him for a dive into CHILDES, possibly the […]

    Churchill: Euro-Sceptic or Pro European? December 27, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Churchill: Euro-Sceptic or Pro European?

    Winston Churchill is a hero to almost all points of the spectrum of British politics and it is quite natural that his views are trotted out to justify positions. How predictable then that proponents of the European Union and those against the European Union, the single most pressing issue in British political life, trot out […]

    At the Lychgate: Happy Christmas! December 25, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    At the Lychgate: Happy Christmas!

    At the lychgate we may all pass our own conduct and our own judgments under a searching review. It is not given to human beings, happily for them, for otherwise life would be intolerable, to foresee or to predict to any large extent the unfolding course of events. In one phase men seem to have […]

    Gypsies as Children Stealers in Italy: A Modern Myth December 24, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Medieval
    Gypsies as Children Stealers in Italy: A Modern Myth

    As noted previously on this blog the idea that gypsies steal children is an old one, at least five hundred years old if one piece of medieval German legislation is to be taken seriously. It is an idea that has died out in most western countries, but one that has survived curiously in Italy where, […]

    Why Children-Stealing Gypsies? December 21, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
    Why Children-Stealing Gypsies?

    The idea that someone is out to get our children has been around from classical times. Several antique Christian writers, for example, credit ‘the Jews’ with stealing children and this became, by the Middle Ages, part of the notorious ‘blood libel’ for which hundreds and perhaps thousands of men, women and, yes, children of Jewish descent […]

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