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  • 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. […]

    Pan in Warwickshire?! December 29, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Pan in Warwickshire?!

    In 1885 a neophyte priest William Herbert Seddon arrived at the parish of Painswick in Warwickshire. Seddon had a strong classical background, he appears for instance in that monument of Victorian learning, The Concordance to the Septuagint, as an important contributor. And he was interested to find, on his arrival, that until the early nineteenth […]

    White Woman of Bell Island December 27, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    White Woman of Bell Island

    Beach recently had the immense pleasure or reading John Widdowson’s If You Be Don’t Be Good, a collection (and analysis) of bogeys used by Newfoundland parents in the interwar and immediate postwar. JW’s purpose was to examine how parents controlled their children in Atlantic Canada, particularly through folklore. But he also picked up many fascinating, […]

    Christmas: Waking Up to Liberation December 25, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Christmas: Waking Up to Liberation

    Happy Christmas to all readers. This was Strange History’s photo of the year. A teen (Jewish?) girl photographed by British or Dominion (Canadian?) troops at the liberation of Bergen Belsen’s hospital, 15 April 1945. Frighteningly thin, she has just survived the worst war in human experience, on one of the most dangerous acres of European soil. […]

    Ilse Koch: The Skin Harvester of Buchenwald December 21, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Ilse Koch: The Skin Harvester of Buchenwald

    Ilse Koch, ‘the bitch of Buchenwald’, seems to have been an unpleasant human being. She was a sadist, and she was, as a matter of record, – something almost as serious in the 1940s and 1950s when her reputation was made – ‘promiscuous’: she had opportunities to sate both desires as the wife of the […]

    Morris Dancers from Hell December 18, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Morris Dancers from Hell

    Imagine that you have a problem in your west African village. A witch is believed to be among you, or worse still someone has been indulging in cannibalism. How do you deal with such miscreants: there is no police force with the resources, and the local chief is at the end of his tether. Well, […]

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