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  • 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 […]

    Four Strange Suicides April 9, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Four Strange Suicides

    Beach has covered the difficult theme of suicide before on several occasions. There was suicides and loopholes, suicides on Saipan and, staying with the Second World War, madness in the last hours in the bunker in Berlin. But suicide is still rattling around his head and this particular post has been bothering him for a […]

    The Evils of Chess! April 7, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
    The Evils of Chess!

    Chess! The taut, horrid syllable is enough to unveil the rotteneness at the heart of that most dreadful of games. Avoid it! Turn from it! Ostracise those who play it! Ok, Beach is playing out here, but he recently came across this extraordinary quotation from an Anglican vicar from Essex, at the death of his […]

    Why Isn’t Modern Fairy Fiction Frightening? April 5, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite, Contemporary
    Why Isn't Modern Fairy Fiction Frightening?

    In appalling fevered sleeps during a recent bout of flu – an approximation of hell – Beach dreamt constantly of fairies and witches. This had nothing to do with two fairy horror books he had supplied himself with – Graham Joyce’s The Tooth Fairy (1999) and A Kind of Enchantment (2012) – and everything, instead, […]

    Shakespeare’s Missing Head April 4, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Shakespeare's Missing Head

    We’ve already enjoyed some of the adventures of Orville W Owen in Bacon land, most particularly digging up the River Wye in search of treasure. The New York Times article that we quoted there ends with the accusation that some journalists have misquoted Orville. Then, again, [Orville] is quoted as expressing the belief that Bacon, […]

    British Witch Initiation c. 1970 April 3, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Medieval
    British Witch Initiation c. 1970

    Witchcraft became a force to be reckoned with in Britain after the Second World War. There is a lot of writing, but most by the witches themselves (who can’t be trusted) or by CofE bishops who are just too silly for words because they take said witches seriously. Intelligent third-party descriptions like the following are […]

    The Postcard Terrorists April 2, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    The Postcard Terrorists

    The German resistance to Hitler was trifling and for the most part misdirected: the maniac, after all, survived till the end of the war, while taking apart his country bridge by bridge and bombed-out-town by bombed-out-town. But let’s celebrate if not the achievement then the courage of Otto and Elise Hempel, the Postkarte terrorists. Naturally, […]

    Lords of Karma and Military Reincarnation March 30, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Lords of Karma and Military Reincarnation

    In 1964, Hugh Dowding, hero of the Battle of Britain, wrote a nostalgic letter to Canadian millionaire Lord Beaverbrook. Dowding recalled how he and Beaverbrook had been in the right place and the right time in the summer of 1940, for the good of the Empire and of the world. Any normal military hero in […]

    Decisions Within March 26, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
    Decisions Within

    History takes place between societies, within societies and among groups of individuals. Historians have proved quite competent at measuring these interactions. But what happens when history takes place strictly within a single human heart, in a place where there are no records, no archives or scholars with searchlights, when one decision changes the track of […]

    The Cipher Wheel, Bacon and Digging Up A River March 25, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    The Cipher Wheel, Bacon and Digging Up A River

    There is perhaps no worse sign of enthusiasm than a talented man or woman finding ciphers hidden in celebrated texts. The Bible, Shakespeare, Milton… All have been examined with such passion that only the unimaginative could fail to notice that peculiar patterns emerge when you take the second final word from each penultimate sentence. Beach […]

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