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  • The Index Biography #16: Prize = A Good Book February 28, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    The Index Biography #16: Prize = A Good Book

    The Index Biography is a new form of biography 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 le Fanu and Joseph […]

    Good Swastikas? The Hakaristi February 24, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Good Swastikas? The Hakaristi

    When is a swastika a good sign? The answer is, crudely, when it predates the Nazi party’s adoption of the crooked cross in 1920, for the swastika is one of the most ancient and one of the most widespread of human symbols. In many countries it remained an essentially religious symbol, locked into a pre-modern memory […]

    Historical Ménage a Trois February 23, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Historical Ménage a Trois

    Beach has recently become fascinated by those who live a ménage a trois, leaving behind the conventional marriage of two and creating something like a marriage of three: a man lives with his wife and lover; a man lives with a gay policeman and his wife… etc etc Such a coupling (tripling) is difficult to pull off today, […]

    Murder and Poetic Inspiration: Killing Fanny Kaplan, 1918 February 20, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Murder and Poetic Inspiration: Killing Fanny Kaplan, 1918

    The Soviet Union is infinitely ghastly and fascinating. Sometime it is the sheer scale of horror, sometimes, as today, it is the surreally Marxist details that astonish in this case the collusion of murder and poetry. 30 August 1918 an attempt was made on Lenin’s life in Moscow. The probable assassin was a half blind, […]

    Count Teleki: The Politics of Suicide February 18, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Count Teleki: The Politics of Suicide

    The Hungarian Count Pál Teleki is a tragic Second World War figure, obit 1941 (that says it all). In the last year of his life tensions between Hungary and her neighbours were growing. Teleki was emotionally an Ally, an old fashioned conservative democrat, who would have been far more at home in Britain or France’s […]

    Scoundrels and Pisspants: WW2 Ambassadors and Declarations of War February 16, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Scoundrels and Pisspants: WW2 Ambassadors and Declarations of War

    Diplomats and ambassadors find themselves in a rather unusual situation. They are to represent their country, first and foremost, of course, but they are also to fraternize with their adopted country. This strange and strained sets of loyalties makes declarations of war particularly painful. The ambassador meets the foreign secretary with whom he has often […]

    You Can’t Go Home Again: Aunt Janey and Other Stories February 14, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    You Can’t Go Home Again: Aunt Janey and Other Stories

    Qua campis cervos agitabat sacra juventus/ Incumbit fessus nunc baculo senior./ Nos miseri, cur te fugitivum, mundus, amamus? (‘Here the holy young man who chased deer in the fields, now, stands a broken old man with a stick/ O what wretches! Why, world we love, do you flee from us?’) Alcuin O Mea Cella Beach’s […]

    Immortal Meals #19: The Breakfast That Killed Seven Hundred February 12, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Immortal Meals #19: The Breakfast That Killed Seven Hundred

    Let us, first, introduce Fort Douaumont. The mightiest of the Verdun forts, Douaumont was captured by the Germans early in the battle for Verdun, 25 February 1915, just four days after fighting had begun. The fort was taken (with hardly a shot being fired) because of unbelievable French carelessness in garrisoning the jewel in their Verdun […]

    Totalitarian Jiang and The Sound of Music February 11, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Totalitarian Jiang and The Sound of Music

    There are few things as entertaining as a power struggle in the upper echelons of a totalitarian state. What could be better than glimpses of profoundly unpleasant people, with an endearing lack of boundaries, doing profoundly unpleasant things, to slightly or momentarily less powerful unpleasant people? Perhaps it is the closest we get to an […]

    The Peshev Insurgency February 9, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    The Peshev Insurgency

    Dimitar Peshev was a middle ranking interwar Bulgarian politician of conservative persuasion. He served briefly as Bulgarian minister of Justice in the mid 1930s, then returned to the back benches with an honorific position in parliament. He survived the Second World War and, miraculously, the communist purges that followed, though he spent a year in […]

    The Eugenics of History? February 5, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    The Eugenics of History?

    Eugenics refers of course to the depressing strand of thinking that says that societies (for which read boffins with bow ties employed by the state) should be allowed to decide which of us can and cannot reproduce our genes. Eugenics was briefly fashionable in the 1920s and 1930s then the Nazis came along and, perhaps […]

    Ghost at Lynton January 30, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Ghost at Lynton

    Beach is a sucker for these ghost stories from the Victorian, the Edwardian and immediate post Edwardian period. This particular series of horrors relates to the Ewings who lived as tenants at St Vincent’s Cottage, Lynton, 1937, ‘where a large number of bones have been found’. Here is Mrs Ewing: From the very start of our […]

    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 […]

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