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  • The Ten Stupidest Duels in History July 5, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    The Ten Stupidest Duels in History

    Duelling was a sensible institution that, from the sixteenth to the twentieth century, reminded young men, and sometimes women, of a particular social class that – never mind how they had been spoilt growing up – words and actions had consequences. Most individuals who paced around in Hyde Park  slashing the air with their swords, […]

    First World War Began in Restaurant in France? July 3, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    First World War Began in Restaurant in France?

    ***Dedicated to Ricardo who sent the photos and the story*** The Bibent is a plush restaurant in central Toulouse: on Trip Advisor it had got (at least as of this evening) a very respectable 178 Excellents out of 537. Of course, no place could go 150 years without picking up some history, in the same […]

    Fighting Over a Tennis Court June 28, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Fighting Over a Tennis Court

    Battles have been fought in some odd places: in sewers, on iced lakes, in factories, across impossibly high mountains… But a battle on a tennis court is surely unique? Other strange examples: drbeachcombing AT yahoo DOT com The scrap in question took place in April 1944 at the bungalow at Kohima and was one of […]

    Ghost Universals and Human Universals June 27, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite, Ancient, Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
    Ghost Universals and Human Universals

    Let’s say that your neighbour meets a ghost. What will they typically see/hear/experience other than a human form: a floater, strange clanking, glowing body parts, missing body parts? We might guess one or the other from this list, but there is no need to guess. There are statistics out there (or data amenable to statistics) […]

    Burning Libraries: The Oregon Trail June 21, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Burning Libraries: The Oregon Trail

    The Oregon Trail is one of those endless low budget cowboy flicks that were trundled out in the 1930s: the original action films with moral certainty and moral scenery; oh and it also had John Wayne, one of seven cowboy movies he made in 1936. The IMBD database includes the following description. U.S. Army Captain John Delmont […]

    Do Fairies Hate Lawnmowers? June 18, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite, Contemporary, Modern
    Do Fairies Hate Lawnmowers?

    Boggart Hole Clough is a nook, a small valley within the Manchester connurbation that has miraculously remained without housing development or industry. Its name should immediately excite those interested in fairylore as the boggart is a northern solitary fairy: note that there have been several boggart posts on strangehistory including boggart catching, a misplaced Calderdale […]

    First Blood in the Great War? June 12, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    First Blood in the Great War?

    Lieutenant Albert Mayer of the fifth Baden Mounted Jäger Regiment brought seven German cavalry onto a ridge at Jonchery to the south-east of Belfort close to the French German border. On this ridge the riders ran into representatives of the forty-fourth Infantry Regiment, who had come to intercept them, and fighting broke out. Mayer smashed […]

    Were Ancient or Modern Soldiers More Likely to Die? June 11, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
    Were Ancient or Modern Soldiers More Likely to Die?

    Soldier, forget principle, forget country, forget pride, forget hate: your one aim is to survive, with or without your legs. Now ask yourself this: given that you want, at all costs, to live would you prefer to fight in WW2 battle or a battle in the Punic wars in antiquity? Perhaps the first thing to […]

    Last Meals of US Condemned June 10, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite, Contemporary, Modern
    Last Meals of US Condemned

    A book on the history of the last meal (including attempts to intoxicate the soon to be executed) would be a fascinating one. Not least is the rather poor taste in banning the custom in some states in the US, that seems an unnecessary act of spite to criminals living their difficult last hours. There […]

    Hallucinogenic Fairies on the Isle of Wight? June 9, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Hallucinogenic Fairies on the Isle of Wight?

    There are fairy-dead counties in England, counties from which no or few fairy legends survive, particularly in the south-east. At the top of the league table is fairyless Kent, but not far behind is the Isle of Wight. To the best of my knowledge there is only one nineteenth century-legend (and nothing before) and that […]

    Why Did the Axis Fight the US? June 7, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Why Did the Axis Fight the US?

    One of the neatest sentences about the Second World War is that the Allies won their victory because of ‘Soviet blood, British time and American resources’. This is an approximation, of course, to truth but a pretty effective one. The Soviets lost perhaps 26 million, enough dead to damn the river of German invasion. The […]

    The Index Biography #7 Prize = a Good Book May 31, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    The Index Biography #7 Prize = a Good Book

    ***Dennis M from Newfoundland got this, spool down for the answer*** The Index Biography is a new form of biography pioneered by this blog and introduced in a previous post. The creator must find a biography of a famous individual from history, they must turn to the index and write down eight peripheral facts about the […]

    Historical Barbies: Warning Shallow Post! May 29, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite, Ancient, Contemporary, Medieval, Modern, Prehistoric
    Historical Barbies: Warning Shallow Post!

    Barbie  is an American doll that has been marketed across the globe since 1959 and that was based on an earlier German ‘sexy’ doll Bild Lilli (another post, another day). Barbie was, of course, an instant success and continues to outsell all rivals – there is a Barbie doll purchased every three seconds somewhere in the world – […]

    Rommel in the Shenandoah?! May 27, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Rommel in the Shenandoah?!

    Every so often a reader writes in with a great story told brilliantly where I just cut and paste. Cue the following tale from Michael Dunn. I’ve put Michael comments/elaboration in italics (tweaking typos etc) and just added a few thoughts of my own in normal text. This story involves a prominent figure in a […]

    Science, Neurology and Being Misled by Fairies May 23, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Science, Neurology and Being Misled by Fairies

    All European fairy traditions have two features: kidnapped children (the changeling tradition) and misled travellers (the pixy-led tradition). Being pixy-led (a Cornish or Devon term originally but one that has come to apply to a much wider area) varies in different parts of the continent. But typically, it unwinds as follows. A man or a woman […]

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