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  • The Venkov Lenin: the Bizarre Fate of a Communist Era Statue January 9, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    The Venkov Lenin: the Bizarre Fate of a Communist Era Statue

    Picture borrowed from Vacilando, a useful source for information on Lewis Carpenter There are some great stories about Lenin statues and busts, including Lenin in Antarctica, a post featured on this blog a couple of years ago. For now though let’s turn to one of the most travelled of all the statues of the man […]

    Miraculous Survival with Parachute January 7, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Miraculous Survival with Parachute

    ***in his long tradition of blogging incompetence Beach accidentally put up two posts yesterday including, briefly, an incomplete post on folklore and the Nessie legend. That will come in the next month! Apologies!*** A late supplement to the post on those who survived jumps from planes without a parachute. This is the most remarkable instance […]

    Epiphany Gift #4: The John O’London Fairy Letters! January 6, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Epiphany Gift #4: The John O'London Fairy Letters!

    Welcome to the fourth annual Beachcombing epiphany gift: first there was War in Dollyland; then there was Scary Fairies; then there was New Frontiers and now, in cooperation with the Fairyist we offer the John O’London Fairy letters, an early twentieth-century cache of fairy encounters from a period when these things were not much written […]

    A French Bombing Operation in London, 1984! January 4, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    A French Bombing Operation in London, 1984!

    This is the time of year that UK government records are released, slipping out of the thirty years for which state papers are routinely kept away from the public gaze: freedom of information has changed this situation, but not dramatically. The result is that every year on New Year’s Day British researchers and conspiracy theorists […]

    German Invasion Force in London, 1909! January 2, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    German Invasion Force in London, 1909!

    All the European nations suffered bouts of craziness leading up to the First World War: one of the reasons that so many men in jackets started throwing straw hats at each other in August 1914… However, in many ways the most endearing and incredible was the conviction in Britain that Germany was planning an invasion […]

    More, Good Digestion and a Prayer December 31, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Medieval
    More, Good Digestion and a Prayer

    Beach, in the tradition of rather straitened New Years Day posts wishes his readers the best of 2014 with this little prayer that was sent in by a friend. As always replace ‘Lord’ with ‘Allah’, ‘First Contact’, ‘the Universe’, ‘Historical Materialism’ till your tastes are satisified… Give me a good digestion, Lord, And also something […]

    Review: Party in the Blitz December 30, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Review: Party in the Blitz

    Elias Canetti was a Bulgarian-Swiss-British writer, who wrote autobiography, a particularly twisted form of central European sociology and who penned one important modernist novel, translated into English as Auto-da-fé. He won a Nobel Prize in 1981, which is, of course, no guarantee of quality: Dario Fo and the EU did, Borges and Calvino didn’t. But […]

    The Inevitability of the First World War December 26, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    The Inevitability of the First World War

    And so it begins… 2 August 1914 German troops begin to pour into Belgium and Luxembourg. French troops prepare their border defences. Serbian irregulars are marching towards battle. Austria-Hungary is preparing itself for the inevitable Russian attack. Britain is wringing its hands and calling up its naval reserves. The most horrific war in human experience […]

    Was Nessie a Kelpie? December 22, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Was Nessie a Kelpie?

    A post a couple of weeks ago on the kelpie of Loch-na-Bestie got Beach thinking about the most famous kelpie in Caledonia. Who else but that stalwart of Scottish tourism, that gift to fake photographers everywhere, the greatest floating log of them all, Nessie?  Yes, it is true that Nessie has been seen, photographed and […]

    Carter, Poland and a Translator December 21, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Carter, Poland and a Translator

    In 1977 Carter visited Poland on his first trip abroad as President. Poland had long been in the US’s cross-hairs. It was the country in the Eastern Block that was most likely to cause the Soviet Union problems and the reputation of the Polish people for resisting foreign tyrrany, of course, went before them. By […]

    Montanelli and the Martyrs of Spielberg December 20, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Montanelli and the Martyrs of Spielberg

    A wonderful story that could probably only come out of Italy. First, some necessary background. Indro Montanelli was perhaps the finest Italian journalist of the twentieth century: he was able to interview and work with Andreotti, Berlusconi, Hitler, John-Paul II, Mussolini and many other notables whose deeds changed the peninsula and Europe (mostly, being notable, […]

    The Gannet Club: Parachuteless in WW2 December 14, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    The Gannet Club: Parachuteless in WW2

    Jumping out of a plane without a parachute is never a good idea. But it is striking that some individuals walk away, or more likely are carried away, with a few token broken bones and a story to dine out on for the rest of their lives. Most modern examples are of parachutists who have […]

    The Wessel Coins 5#: Ian McIntosh Interview December 12, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
    The Wessel Coins 5#: Ian McIntosh Interview

    Huge thanks to Dr Ian McIntosh who agreed to this interview about the Wessel Coins, about progress in last summer’s expedition and about hopes for next year. Previous posts on the medieval African coins that ended up in Australia are gathered together in this link. All readers please note that there is also a relevant […]

    The Duke, His Brother and the Locomotive December 9, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    The Duke, His Brother and the Locomotive

    Great story, recently found, relating to the Spanish Civil War, presumably 1938. The narrator, of Jewish descent, has fled anschluss and arrived in Paris, en route to more permanent exile in the UK. I had run into Duke Dantin when he was a refugee in Paris, during the Spanish Civil War, he had fled from […]

    Selling Alaska/Louisiana/Manhattan by the Pound December 4, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Selling Alaska/Louisiana/Manhattan by the Pound

    History could be usefully defined as one long territory grab: who has the desire to take these acres, and who has the will and the resources and enough young ready to die on the other side? You can almost see the archangels of history pouring blood and bullets into two sides of a balance. But […]

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