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  • Emperor Stars in Anti-Colonial Play June 20, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Emperor Stars in Anti-Colonial Play

    Puyu (obit 1967) has gone down in history as the last Chinese emperor, not including of course Mao and his successors, and what a life he had. Brought up in the Forbidden Palace he was perhaps the most spoilt boy in the world: having servants beaten for a whim; this perhaps made up for the […]

    Enemy Gives Medal for Ship Sinking June 17, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Enemy Gives Medal for Ship Sinking

    There are very occasional instances of enemy officials reporting on the gallantry and heroism of opposite numbers. The Irish Captain Roope of the HMS Glowworm was, for example, given his Victoria cross in part because of the testimony of a German captain, Heye, whose ship had been rammed by Roope in 1940. However, there is […]

    The Longest Snake in the World June 16, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    The Longest Snake in the World

    British newspapers gave a couple of acres of space between 1800 and 2000 to ‘monster snakes’ discovered in this or that corner of the Green & Pleasant land. Typically a vicar in Devon had found an adder that measured two and a half feet long… However, leaving the shores of Britain behind there were better […]

    Could Germany Have Successfully Invaded Britain, 1940? June 13, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Could Germany Have Successfully Invaded Britain, 1940?

    The greatest month in German history (militarily speaking) began 10 May 1940 with the attack in the west and ended 14 June when the Wehrmacht entered Paris. Yet that month was clouded by Britain’s survival. Hitler had two ways to pacify Britain: first, he could break Britain militarily (invasion); second, he could convince Britain to withdraw […]

    Mannerheim and the Medium June 7, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Mannerheim and the Medium

    Beach hates fortune tellers and he loathes séances and he really can’t be doing with mediums (if spirits exist just leave them in peace). But he was struck by this account from the great Mannerheim, Finland’s hero Marshal, who saved the country in three wars against Soviet Communism; even though he lost two of them. This particular […]

    The Index Biography #18 May 31, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    The Index Biography #18

    ***Filip takes the prize for the second time in two months…*** The Index Biography is a new form of biography pioneered by this blog and introduced in a previous post. The writer must find a biography of a famous individual from history, they must turn to the index and write down eight peripheral facts about the […]

    D’Annunzio and PR May 30, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Uncategorized
    D'Annunzio and PR

    Gabrielle d’Annunzio was one of the most ghastly men to have walked the earth and, yet, he was unquestionably a genius, ‘a talented shit’. He dominated Italy’s literary scene for a half a century and packed more into his lifetime than most of us would manage in ten: a random line from his biography ‘fell […]

    The Poisoned Bowl and the 5000 Letters May 29, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite, Contemporary, Modern
    The Poisoned Bowl and the 5000 Letters

    Beach has not offered up a rogue researcher for some time: the last was mummy maker, Bob Brier, a year ago. Rogue researchers, for the uninitiated are those men and women, with doctorates, who do things that others in their discipline might consider eccentric. To call someone a ‘rogue researchers’ is a sign of the […]

    Execution by Dogs? May 26, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
    Execution by Dogs?

    North Korea is a frequent source of joy for bizarrists: if not for the poor wretched put upon people who live there. For example, last month Beach wrote up the Indian custom of death by cannon, only to be trumped by Kim Jong-un who had just executed his minister of defence with an anti-aircraft gun. This got Beach […]

    The Mysterious Erich von Richthofen May 18, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    The Mysterious Erich von Richthofen

    The King and Country debate has been described previously on this blog. It was a talk at Oxford Students’ Union 9 Feb 1933, which saw 275 to 153 students vote for the motion ‘that this House will in no circumstances fight for its King and Country’. This surprisingly pacifist stance from a major British institution attracted […]

    The Vein of Love and the Ring Finger May 15, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Contemporary, Medieval
    The Vein of Love and the Ring Finger

    A beautifully realised graphic history of the engagment ring by Vashi led to thoughts about why, in the Western World, the wedding ring is worn on the ring finger, the third finger of the left hand counting from the index. The answer most authorities give, from nineteenth-century reference works, to modern wedding miscellanies, to early […]

    Review: Truffles May 14, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Review: Truffles

    Truffles… Where to even begin? Think a five thousand Euro lump of tuber magnatum sweating in your hand; black truffles grated onto steaming pasta and stirred gently in; truffle salt mixed into white basmati rice; a bottle of truffled oil left open to spread that magic odour in a bedroom; the siren’s sweet sound as the […]

    Execution by Cannon May 5, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Execution by Cannon

    Human beings have long showed remarkable ingenuity at getting rid of their fellow human beings, especially perhaps human beings that they do not like. Once the cannon was invented it was only a matter of time before someone tied a prisoner to the front and lit a fuse, blowing his body into a constellation of pain, the […]

    Self Serving Capital Punishment May 2, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Self Serving Capital Punishment

    Where are our modern executioners? Most people would have problems answering this because there are no modern executioners as such, at least in the US. There are guards (who get overtime), there are governors, there are wardens, there are doctors and, outside some death chambers, there are members of the general public and journalists. It might […]

    Manx Judge and Manx Fairies, 1932 April 24, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Manx Judge and Manx Fairies, 1932

    We have noted previously here the spectacle of the fairies in a law court in nineteenth-century Ireland. However, this one came surprisingly late (11 March 1932 the report) and from the Isle of Man. The Deemster is a Manx judge: The unusual spectacle of Manx Deemster, or law-giver, weighing up the evidence for and against […]

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