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  • 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 […]

    403 Cossack Adolescents: Soviet Genocide? April 23, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    403 Cossack Adolescents: Soviet Genocide?

    Beach lives in a part of Europe (Italy) where the memory of the Soviet Union is revered not only by daft revolutionaries creeping out at night to graffiti their way to world revolution; a good part of the general population also makes this mistake. Of course, they will not defend Stalin and they shed some […]

    Guest Post: Walking the Pennine Way in 1965 April 22, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Guest Post: Walking the Pennine Way in 1965

    This guest post sets out the experiences of one of the first walkers on England’s best long-distance trail just after it had opened in 1965. I still keep one bit of kit in my rucksack that goes back to my 1965 trip up the Pennine Way. It’s a small blue, plastic container with a cracked, click-on […]

    Espionage Commandments April 11, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Espionage Commandments

    Beach ran several years ago a series of spying commandments from the end of the Great War. He thought he would follow this up today with some espionage commandments from the Second World War. These come courtesy of Bernard James Barton or (aka ‘Killer’ Barton or John Barton), a twenty-four year-old British major who, in […]

    Piper at the Gates of Dawn: Pan, Kenneth Grahame and Wind in the Willows April 6, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Piper at the Gates of Dawn: Pan, Kenneth Grahame and Wind in the Willows

    The golden age of British children’s literature stretched from the last decade of the nineteenth century to the 1950s: in that period men and women of immense talent wrote for their sons, their daughters and in most cases for their atrophied child-like selves. Among these was the sad and sometimes wretched Kenneth Grahame. Like T.S. […]

    The Failure of Appeasement April 2, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    The Failure of Appeasement

    Appeasement is the policy of giving smiles, kisses and gifts to neighbours to prevent war. In some moments of history it has worked (Dane-geld and Roman bribery beyond the frontiers); in some periods it has failed. A conspicuous example of a failure is the attempt by Britain to stroke its European friends and enemies into […]

    The Index Biography #17: Prize = A Good Book March 31, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    The Index Biography #17: Prize = A Good Book

    SJ has won this, spool down for the answer…. 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. […]

    Natator #3: the Fight with Fish Man March 30, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Natator #3: the Fight with Fish Man

      In a previous post Beach outlined the early success of Natator, the frog man and Frank Buckland’s examination of this unusual specimen. The next chapter in Natator’s life is though a more traumatic one. Acts inevitably get old and Natator recognised this. By September of 1867, just three months after he had begun, Natator […]

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