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  • Snowball Atrocities #2: Snowball Deaths June 24, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Snowball Atrocities #2: Snowball Deaths

    You can’t go far in snowballing history without dealing with the deaths. European and American newspapers (Beach’s source for most of what follows) are full of snowball fatalities in the nineteenth and twentieth century. For those of us who have perhaps played with snow and lovingly lobbed loose white balls in the direction of family […]

    Killer Rabbits June 22, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Killer Rabbits

    Beachcombing’s father in law, a few days ago, actually managed to trip over a snake. He thought it was a piece of rope… In celebration of this unlikely event and in memory of sheep killings Beach now declares open season on rabbit killers. We’ve already had the terrors of supernatural rabbits, but what about the […]

    How Long Did Our Ancestors Live? June 13, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Contemporary, Medieval, Modern, Prehistoric
    How Long Did Our Ancestors Live?

    Life expectancy is a tricky thing. Every demographer knows that, in the modern world, the difference between a national life expectancy of 40 in country A and 70 in country B is predominantly about how many children die in their early years of life. If you look at life expectancy for fifteen year olds then […]

    Watchers of the Sky: The Modern UFO Cult May 29, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Watchers of the Sky: The Modern UFO Cult

    The sky was not a big thing in the supernatural before the early modern period. Yes, there were the odd wild hunts, some dragon flights (aurora borealis?) and some airy elementals. But there was no sense that the heavens were worth watching for the supernatural in their own right. Then the modern age begins: Protestantism, […]

    Snowball Atrocities #1: Snowball Bomb May 24, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Snowball Atrocities #1: Snowball Bomb

    Sometimes the blogger finds a newstory that he cannot let go. After a week of wrestling with his conscience Beach has decided that he simply has to give this particular incidence of love between the peoples of Europe wider coverage. We are in 1931. Prague. Thursday. Two schoolboys were killed in the course of a […]

    Review: The Bye Bye Man May 22, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Review: The Bye Bye Man

    Robert Damon Schneck, The Bye Bye Man and Other Strange-but-True-Tales (New York 2014) RDS has built a reputation, in the last decade, for ‘strange stories’ well told with a strong bias towards the supernatural. This ‘new’ collection – actually originally published by Anomalist Press in 2005 as The President’s Vampire – has the typical RDS […]

    What Language is Closest to English? May 17, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Contemporary, Medieval
    What Language is Closest to English?

    English is a Germanic language and its closest living relation should be one of the Continental Germanic tongues, German, Dutch and the like. However, try speaking English to a German who knows no English, or try understanding German (with just English) and you will find that they are very distant relations. An Italian listening to Spanish: or […]

    Review: Lost Book of Moses May 9, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Contemporary, Modern
    Review: Lost Book of Moses

    Chanan Tigay, The Lost Book of Moses (Harper-Collins, 2016) This blogger has a dilemma. There are three pages of a century-old book he wants about an obscure English county. The book is not present in any library in the world, but one copy exists in the hands of a bookseller who wants about two hundred […]

    Transvestite Vicar Ghost in Interwar England May 4, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Transvestite Vicar Ghost in Interwar England

    This story haunted Beach more than any other he has covered in the last couple of weeks. There are several Beachcombian themes that come together and then rip a man’s life apart: ghosts, English deference (and its disappearance), the eccentricities of those in religious office, and the loneliness of each and everyone of us in our […]

    Mysterious Balaclavas on South Georgia May 3, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Mysterious Balaclavas on South Georgia

    In 1982 Argentina invaded two British possessions the Falklands (2 April) and South Georgia (19 March). The British, under a determined Margaret Thatcher, sent a task force to retake the islands, something that was finally achieved 14 June of that year. The deadly struggle between the two sides included many moments of tragedy: all too […]

    Review: Physical Evidence, A Feeling for Magic May 2, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
    Review: Physical Evidence, A Feeling for Magic

    Ronald Hutton (ed), Physical Evidence for Ritual Acts, Sorcery and Witchcraft in Christian Britain: A Feeling for Magic (Palgrave Macmillan 2016) Academic essay collections fall into different categories including such old and tried favourites as: ‘new directions’; ‘pot pouri’; ‘the EU gave us some money so we had a conference’; and ‘x is wrong and […]

    Lost Sounds #1: Dawn Chorus of Clogs in the Nineteenth Century April 27, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Lost Sounds #1: Dawn Chorus of Clogs in the Nineteenth Century

    The clog was the preferred footwear of the English industrial north, and particularly the industrial north-west. Shoes were cut from wood and tipped with iron in Lancashire, in the West Riding and the mill towns of Cheshire and Derbyshire. The clog cost relatively little, it was good for defending yourself, it was durable and it […]

    Tony, Where Are Your Footnotes?! April 25, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite, Contemporary
    Tony, Where Are Your Footnotes?!

    Tony Judt’s Postwar (2005) is one of the most important history books of the last generation. However, the book that runs to over eight hundred pages has a strange lacuna. It lacks notes and it lacks bibliography. Judt was quite open about this lack of reference apparatus and explains it in his introduction (in a […]

    A Mediumistic Maid April 18, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    A Mediumistic Maid

    There is the need for a collection of all Arthur Conan Doyle’s gadding around in his ‘psychic’ years. And when that time comes Strange History will have several stories to offer up: sometimes ACD turns up as an expert on the spot, at other times the press use ACD as an expert or talking head. […]

    Buried Six Times in Twelve Years April 15, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Buried Six Times in Twelve Years

    Most cultures look with distaste on the removal of dead bodies: many families will do whatever they can to avoid such a thing for their loved ones. So imagine the trauma of being buried and reburied six times in a dozen years. Let’s start though with our death. Paul von Hindenburg, the President of Germany […]

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