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  • Witches and Paganists: In Search of a Term February 22, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
    Witches and Paganists: In Search of a Term

    A terminological problem that readers might be able to help with: drbeachcombing At yahoo DOT com. Historians of witchcraft break down into two categories. The vast majority believe that the witch craze was essentially all a horrible misunderstanding and that the men and women found guilty of crimes were innocents. A small minority, but not […]

    Tony Judt’s Lost Classic February 20, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Tony Judt's Lost Classic

    Invisible books are, as long time readers of this blog will know, books that have never existed save in the imagination. Beach has offered, over the years, many such invisible titles, most dreamt up or taken from books (where there are shelves and shelves of these non-existent volumes). However, a new sub-category of invisible book […]

    Poetic Justice and Four British Traitors February 19, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Poetic Justice and Four British Traitors

    The second in our Poetic Justice series (covered Molotov in Mongolia a year ago) is dedicated to George Blake, Donald MacClean, Kim Philby and Guy Burgess. Beach has treated these sorry four briefly on another occasion: Dealing with Double Agents. But for the uninitiated all were British spies whose night job was to work for […]

    Review: Return to Magonia February 17, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Review: Return to Magonia

    This review should begin with an important caveat. The author loathes UFOs, aliens and Close Encounters of the Third Kind: mosquito smudges on the window of our existence. Yet the book pictured above, which details a series of mysterious objects in the sky (and near to the earth) from 1662 to 1947, gripped and impressed […]

    The Last Crusade, 1996-1999 February 16, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Medieval
    The Last Crusade, 1996-1999

    Beach is always curious about the present’s manipulation of the past and there are few subjects that have been manipulated more than the Crusades. Those men and women who set off towards the Holy Land, in 1095 have been cast in almost every imaginable role in the last two hundred years. They have been made into […]

    Last King Killing February 12, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Last King Killing

    Armchair anthropologists (such as this blogger) often thrill over the stories of mutilated and better still murdered kings and the rituals described by Frazer and his heirs in the tropics and reconstructed (ahem imagined) in European history. The king is the land, and as he becomes old and frail he must be sacrificed so life […]

    Worst Career: the Knocker Up February 9, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Worst Career: the Knocker Up

    He knocks at doors wheer new-born babs Hev kaled him throo t’ black heawrs o’ dark; He knocks wheer deoth stalks in an’ grabs, Or age hes thrown fooak eawt o’ wark. He knows heaw mony raps ‘ll rouse Young lusty Dick, or sleepy Nan. He knocks ’em eawt o’ t’ second snooze, ‘Rat-tat, rat-tat, […]

    History by Kilowat: Humanity Glimpsed from Space January 27, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite, Contemporary
    History by Kilowat: Humanity Glimpsed from Space

    ‘The first day or so we all pointed to our countries. The third or fourth day we were pointing to our continents. By the fifth day, we were aware of only one Earth.’ Sultan bin Salman Al-Saud These sentiments do Sultan bin Salman credit, but the earth at night is rather less democratic than the […]

    Film, History and Memory January 23, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
    Film, History and Memory

    ***Dedicated to David*** In a recent reflection about the way we remember the past, this blogger made the case that after about two hundred years we cease to ‘own’ history. ‘For Beach Waterloo seems, somehow, ‘present’. Anything before that date seems, meanwhile, completely out of reach, as if the historical imagination falls down into a […]

    Bosom Serpents and False Operations January 20, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Contemporary, Modern
    Bosom Serpents and False Operations

    Bosom serpents refers to the belief that an animal, typically a reptile or amphibian has taken up residence in a human body. Two truisms to start with. First, there is no way that these animals could live in a human body. Second, if the patient believed in the BoS, the doctor had to deal with […]

    Why Did Germany Screw Up in 1940? January 19, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Why Did Germany Screw Up in 1940?

    The survival of Britain from May to October 1940 is one of the most stirring stories of the Second World War. Britain as Lukacs noted could never have won the war alone but in the first summer of the war Britain could have lost it. From 1936 to early May 1940 the UK had made […]

    Did the Russians Off Archduke Ferdinand?! January 13, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Did the Russians Off Archduke Ferdinand?!

    There follows that rarest of things. A credible conspiracy theory. Our two heroes are Dragutin Dimitrijević (aka Apis, obit 1917) Chief of Serb Military Intelligence and Viktor Artamonov (obit 1942), a Russian military liaison officer in Serbia. Apis is remembered by history as the organizer of Archduke Ferdinand’s assassination and the organizer of the Black […]

    The Bank Note Club January 7, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    The Bank Note Club

    Imagine a watering hole where Hans Christian Andersen has cocktails with Genghis Khan and where Sigmund Freud takes to the dance-floor with Greta Garbo and makes innuendos. A world in which Nelson Mandela plays darts with Benjamin Franklin and St Martin gets into a fight with Pharaoh Khafra. Have we strayed into a parallel dimension […]

    The Boom of the Bitterbump January 3, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    The Boom of the Bitterbump

    Beach has recently been going through modern folklore books for the northern English counties (Lancashire, the three Ridings, Northumberland etc etc). Of forty or fifty books he has so far taken to bed he has been struck by their rather low quality. There are not many awful books, but most are offensively mediocre: these people, remember, […]

    How to Get Rid of a Poltergeist December 30, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite, Contemporary
    How to Get Rid of a Poltergeist

    James McClenon is a sociologist who has written on the paranormal and parapsychology. His books are to be recommended in the highest terms, not just for their arguments, put perhaps most of all for their reasonable yet never irritating openness to the unexplained; something which does not offend even a hoary old materialist like Beach. […]

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