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  • Lazarus Plants December 17, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite, Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
    Lazarus Plants

    When we think of the vegetables, flowers and fruit of our ancestors we probably most easily imagine students with trowels retrieving pips from coprolites: not a happy occupation. But actually there is another kind of retrieval and that is sending botanists out into the woods and fields to look for any plants that have somehow […]

    A Bone-breaking Country Flight in Italy, c. 1920 December 13, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    A Bone-breaking Country Flight in Italy, c. 1920

    This early aeronautics story comes from central Italy in the 1940s. A mysterious aged man lives up in a secluded valley, a man who is spoken about in hushed terms. It seems this man is almost a wizard in terms of mechanical objects. When he was young he made a bicycle entirely out of wood, […]

    Good Executions? December 10, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
    Good Executions?

    Is there such a thing as a ‘good execution’: after all the extinction of human life should never or almost never be a cause for celebration? Well, historians have used the phrase, in the past generation – though it has older antecedents – to refer to the extent to which the criminal cooperates with his […]

    Music in the Woods and Vocation December 7, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite, Contemporary
    Music in the Woods and Vocation

    A Jungian psychologist somewhere on the west coast of the US has a patient, an elderly woman who feels dissatisfied with her life, which she believes that she has wasted. After hours of going through her past he comes to what he believes was the key moment. In her childhood she had been out playing […]

    BB and Fairy Belief December 4, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    BB and Fairy Belief

    BB (Denys Watkins-Pitchford, obit 1990) was a superlative writer and illustrator, who spent most of his time celebrating gnomes, the English countryside and fowling: his pseudonym comes from the BB shot used to bring down wild geese. For present purposes, we are interested in BB and gnomes for the man wrote two excellent gnome books […]

    The Lamps Are Going Out, But Where? December 3, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    The Lamps Are Going Out, But Where?

    Lord Grey’s famous quotation that ‘the lamps are going out all over Europe’ came eventually to encapsulate the horror of 1914. Grey, then Britain foreign secretary and an exquisitely cultured and civilised individual, spoke the words on 3 August 1914 just before the great powers collectively committed suicide. He recorded the statement in his autobiography […]

    Summoned by Bells December 2, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Summoned by Bells

    The following bell story cannot lay claim to being bizarre history in the normal sense of the phrase. But it is enjoyable. It comes from the memoirs of James Lee-Milne (obit 1997) and describes Mrs Hartwell’s most dangerous day. [Mrs] Hartwell was an aged widow who gallantly brought up an orphaned brood of undisciplined grandchildren. […]

    Alwyn Ruddock: Enemy of History? November 28, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite, Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
    Alwyn Ruddock: Enemy of History?

    You have worked your entire life researching a given area of history. However, you have published barely anything waiting to write your ‘big book’, the one that you will be remembered by. The years pass and the book does not materialise and then comes your final illness… What will you do with the seventy odd […]

    Modesty and Killing November 27, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
    Modesty and Killing

    When Benito Mussolini was ‘executed’ (jolted out of a car by some communist partisans and shot in the chest in a ditch) he did not die alone. By his side was his lover and perhaps the most significant woman in his life, Clara Petacci. CP was gunned down a moment before Mussolini himself. The corpses […]

    Late Pixy Accounts from Devon November 24, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Late Pixy Accounts from Devon

    Here is some late pixylore from a collection written in 1982. The author is the very fine Theo Brown, an outstanding folklorist. We’ve tried here to quarry experiences of those known by TB rather than the normal Devon folklore fodder, which can be found in ‘all’ the books. 1) Pixies present a difficult problem. What […]

    More Kopenicks November 23, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    More Kopenicks

    Was it only a couple of week’s ago that Beach described the immortal achievement of Wihelm Vogit in Kopenick? A confidence trickster essentially took a German town hostage by putting on a captain’s uniform. At the time Beach noted the way that the British particularly were insufferable in blaming Prussia’s blind obedience to authority. Since […]

    Families and the Durability of Memory November 22, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite, Contemporary, Modern
    Families and the Durability of Memory

    How long can memories remain in a family? We have played these games before, of course. Just a couple of weeks ago Beach was imagining his daughter telling his great great grandchildren about the time their great, great, great, great grandfather survived an Italian attack in the Mediterranean, a hundred and fifty years after the […]

    Oldest Still Used Clothes November 21, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Oldest Still Used Clothes

    Strange History announces a search for the oldest clothes in the world. Or rather the oldest still worn clothes. This is the best we’ve come up with so far. A British soldier has escaped from an Italian prisoner of War camp, 1943, and he has run to the mountains where he has fallen ill. Luckily […]

    Crowds #6: Bully Crowds November 19, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Crowds #6: Bully Crowds

    We have so far shown numerous posts on crowd photographs: crowd art, crowd speeches, August 1914 crowds, POWs in crowds and religious crowds. Here is by far the most unpleasant of the series – you have been warned! – bullying crowds. A group of people with power, perhaps newly acquired power, decides to revenge itself […]

    The Last Survivor of the Second World War November 15, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    The Last Survivor of the Second World War

    Strange History put up a melancholy post a couple of weeks ago marking the day that the last Battle of Britain pilot died. And this is only the beginning… On that very day the newspapers ran with another story commemorating not the last but the oldest Auschwitz survivor’s death. Now the Battle of Britain and Auschwitz involve […]

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