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  • Review: The Terror That Comes in the Night June 4, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
    Review: The Terror That Comes in the Night

    Beach has been lucky with his reading recently. It began with Dennis Gaffen’s Running with the Fairies, passed on to Chris Woodyard’s Face in the Window and Emma Wilby’s Cunning Folk and then there was a jump back in time with Mike Dash’s Borderlands. Another excellent addition to his library has been David J.Hufford’s The […]

    Missing Children in Nineteenth-Century London June 2, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Missing Children in Nineteenth-Century London

    Like all parents Beach worries about his children’s safety: he has developed ‘child vision’, the ability to constantly keep his daughters in peripheral vision in a public place; and the moments they are out of sight or hearing of an adult even in a domestic setting stand at seconds rather than minutes. Yet at the […]

    Brownies of Bangor May 30, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Brownies of Bangor

      There follows a peculiar little story, from 1909, which has certainly not got the attention that it deserves from fairyists or from students of mass hysteria.  Bangor, for those outside the UK, is a pretty town in North Wales. Brownies, meanwhile, are solitary fairies, typically, associated with houses in the north of England and […]

    A Bugged Conversation from June 1945? May 26, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    A Bugged Conversation from June 1945?

    ***Dedicated to Cristiano and the memory of his old friend Johann Elser*** In the 1930s and the 1940s Britain boasted perhaps the best intelligence services in the world, with only the Soviets as rivals. SIS (aka MI6) operated throughout the Empire but also in allied and potential enemy countries to great effect. When World War […]

    Review: Borderlands May 25, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
    Review: Borderlands

    In 1997 Mike Dash brought out a five-hundred-page whopper entitled Borderlands. This book, that somehow completely passed Beach by for fifteen years, is, to use the word of one reader, a ‘small ‘s’ skeptical approach to Forteana’: lengthy examinations of earth magnetism, UFOlogy and other disciplines that survive on the margins of modern science. What […]

    The Hell of Being Christopher Robin May 24, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    The Hell of Being Christopher Robin

    Your mentor – a father, a family friend… – tells you, and then writes a series of stories where you are the hero. You can’t help but notice, however, that said mentor spends more time at the typewriter than reading these stories to you: the first bad sign? Then the publications appear and you see […]

    In Search of the Science Behind Misleading Wisps May 16, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    In Search of the Science Behind Misleading Wisps

    Beach has covered, on previous occasions, stories of will o’th’ wisps (never know how to spell that damn word/words) and lights that apparently have a mind of their own. First, it is worth making a division between memorates (experiences) and folk-lore. Memorates often include descriptions of being out on this or that moor and running […]

    Forgotten Kingdoms: August Gissler’s Cocos May 15, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Forgotten Kingdoms: August Gissler's Cocos

      When August Gissler (obit 1935) became, at last, governor of Cocos Island, off Costa Rica, in 1897, he was not interested in the tiny and transient population of tobacco growers there, most of whom he had brought over from his home country. The German was obsessed, instead, by the vast quantites of gold (allegedly) […]

    The Boggarts of Royde and Royd May 14, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    The Boggarts of Royde and Royd

    Today, an almighty confusion of boggarts: the fairy-shape-shifting-ghosts that haunt the south Pennines and the North West of England. Ellen Royde is a gentile house, now used as a health clinic, in the Lower Calder Valley at Elland near Halifax. There, in the garden, was a boggart chair, some kind of seat or structure, suggesting […]

    Lawrence’s Missing Tree May 11, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Lawrence's Missing Tree

    D.H.Lawrence, the high priest of love, the enemy of the bourgeoisie (and their closest ally), an indifferent stylist, a brilliant novelist and the man our great grandmothers prayed that they would not be seated next to at a dinner party. DHL had a lifelong, masturbatory relationship with Italy: a country that was, in his mythology, […]

    Witches and Brambles May 9, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Witches and Brambles

    This is a summary borrowed from Owen Davies’ excellent Witchcraft, Magic and Culture. In December 1924, Alfred John Matthews, aged forty-three, a small-holder of Clyst St Lawrence, Devon, appeared at the Cullhompton petty sessions for scratching and drawing blood from Ellen Garnsworthy, a middle-aged, married woman of the same village. Matthews had a sow which […]

    Botched Beheadings April 29, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
    Botched Beheadings

    The guillotine was originally invented as an act of humanitarianism to liberate criminal kind from the axe. It made sense, after all, to remove a criminal’s head from his or from her shoulders if that criminal had to be killed. But the procedure was messy. Two important things could go wrong while removing said head […]

    The Children of Bjelaja-Zerkow April 26, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    The Children of Bjelaja-Zerkow

    A horrid story from August 1941 at Bjelaja-Zerkow in German occupied Soviet territory. In this town the SS murdered as many as nine hundred Jewish residents. That is nightmarish enough, of course, if unfortunately an all too typical act in the war in the east. What allows Bjelaja-Zerkow to climb a little higher in the […]

    Mrs T’s Revolving Eyes April 13, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Mrs T's Revolving Eyes

    In the tradition of writing topical posts a week after they have ceased to be topical, Beachcombing thought that he would celebrate, today, Margaret Thatcher’s eyes as part of his occasional maverick politicians series. Coming of age in a country where that loathed/loved woman reigned, this blogger has long been fascinated by the way that […]

    The Hallucinogenic Mushrooms Are More Rainbow Coloured on the Other Side of the Fence April 11, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
    The Hallucinogenic Mushrooms Are More Rainbow Coloured on the Other Side of the Fence

    Hallucinogens are frequently found in the traditional religious life of hunter-gatherers and rural communities. There are, of course, literally hundreds of different ways of intoxicating yourself ranging from toad glands to nutmeg, from jimson weed to ergot spores. And naturally, these techniques which, depending on your point of view, canker or enhance reality, are important […]

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