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  • The Problem with Sea Apes May 24, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite, Contemporary, Modern
    The Problem with Sea Apes

    ***Dedicated to Andy the Mad Monk and Invisible*** Beach has, since the early days of this site, shown a persistent interest in mermaids. It would be outrageous then to pass by the important new documentary coming out (or has it already aired?) on Animal Planet. The following is borrowed from Wikipedia (courtesy of the inestimable […]

    Self-Immolation Duc-Style May 20, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Self-Immolation Duc-Style

    When Beachcombing first courted Mrs B he used to play elaborate ‘wind-ups’, trying to convince his darling of the impossible. Perhaps his favourite was the time he ‘explained’ how the widow of an Indian immigrant in Britain had decided to burn herself suttee-style on the funeral pyre of her husband, in Parliament Square. There had, […]

    Transvestite President? May 19, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Transvestite President?

    Beachcombing isn’t big on cross-dressing but this fabulous pastiche of poor old Jefferson Davies’ capture caught his attention. Some accounts – Union accounts it should be noted – claim that Jefferson tried to escape wearing his wife’s clothing. This comes from the New York Times. To Maj. Hudson was given the duty of surrounding the […]

    Nashville Debutante Fights Imperial Japan May 15, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Nashville Debutante Fights Imperial Japan

    ***With thanks to Larry*** A wish-i’d-been-there moment from 1941. Cornelia Fort was a twenty-three-year-old pilot and instructor flying a Cadet out of Honolulu in that year. Incredibly though CF had only been flying for a matter of months she was already deemed good enough to work as an instructor, putting a young Hawaiian through his […]

    The Leprechauns of Liverpool and the Bowling Green from Hell May 14, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    The Leprechauns of Liverpool and the Bowling Green from Hell

    Beachcombing has been spending some time in the last few days looking at the fairy lore of Irish immigrants: spurred on by his continuing failure to find the New York changeling case. Not surprisingly the city of Liverpool stuck out: Liverpool was flooded by Irish workers in the nineteenth century, particularly after the horrors of […]

    Zombie Planes May 3, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite, Contemporary
    Zombie Planes

    ***Dedicated to Ricardo*** Beach is properly modest about his knowledge of aeronautics – apart from perhaps the prehistory of flight. But he is as moved as the next man to see the spitfire test in First of the Few or (1.37.40)  or, for that matter, Corky sweating in Tales of the Golden Monkey as a […]

    The Babel of History May 2, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
    The Babel of History

      The past according to a much worn-line is ‘a foreign country, they do things differently there’. Of course, if this were all then history would be a doddle. It would be enough to fill the Cutty Sark with sabres and give the natives music sheets for their acres. But, unfortunately for those who like […]

    Shadowfax: A Fantasy Horse April 27, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Shadowfax: A Fantasy Horse

    J.R.R. Tolkien ‘horsed’ his world with some wonderful creations. There was Roheryn the stallion of Arogan, Arod a steed so strong that he carried an elf and a dwarf together on his back and even the hobbits’ loyal pony Bill. But most memorable of all was Shadowfax, who bears the mage Gandalf, ‘like the north […]

    Human Confetti in the Jungle of Guyana April 23, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Human Confetti in the Jungle of Guyana

    Beach prides himself in getting together some of the most striking photographs possible to show his students at uni. However, he is dismayed how often good photographs require dead bodies: a revolutionary Spanish soldier with his head disintegrating, Aldo Moro curled in a fœtus in the back of that fiat, Jesse James laid out, the […]

    Irish Merman Off Connemara April 21, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Irish Merman Off Connemara

    ***Beach dedicates this to Mike Dash who sent in the clipping*** The Nottingham Evening Post, Aug 26 1937 ran with a merman story that was new (at least to this mermaid enthusiast). Note curious claims for his dimensions or is this just a misunderstanding on the part of the journalist in the English Midlands. The […]

    Nanny Coincidence April 19, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Nanny Coincidence

    When Churchill died in 1965 at the age of 90 there was one picture by his bedside. The picture was not of his wife (though their marriage had been a success), nor of his children, nor of his parents. Rather it was of his nanny who had left the earth seventy years before (obit 1895). […]

    Newspaper Archives as Controls or Filters April 18, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Newspaper Archives as Controls or Filters

    Beachcombing spent more time than was strictly necessary last summer looking at nineteenth- and twentieth-century newspaper archives. It is an extraordinary world. You constantly find yourself caught up on headlines (‘Sea-monster seen in the Channel’, ‘Germans eat the French’) that cannot easily be ignored and then you take one last look over the page and […]

    Pixie-Led in the South-West April 16, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Pixie-Led in the South-West

    Beachcombing is back to the fairies. One subject that has intrigued him through this spring is the rare fairy-phenomenon of being ‘pixie-led’, one particularly associated with the south-west of England: hence the name as ‘the pixies’ are the fairies of Cornwall and Devon. To be pixie-led is to be led astray by the good folk […]

    Freedoms Fliers by J. Todd Moye April 15, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Freedoms Fliers by J. Todd Moye

    Wars have the habit of shaking up the social order in a way that a hoary old conservative like Beachcombing finds rather disturbing. Children join militias: think the moving photographs of fourteen and fifteen year German ‘soldiers’ guarding the Atlantic wall or ‘that scene’ in Doctor Zhivago. Gender relations are bent in knots: women are […]

    Singing Enemy Songs: Lili Marleen April 13, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Singing Enemy Songs: Lili Marleen

    One of the most moving moments in cinema is the extraordinary ending of Kubrick’s Paths of Glory. A young German girl is pulled in front of a crowd of French soldiers and forced to sing. The poilu mock her but as she nervously begins  the mood changes. The soldiers join in and drown her anxious, […]

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