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  • Image: They Can Because They Think They Can September 27, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Image: They Can Because They Think They Can

    As his final tribute to the RAF on the seventieth anniversary of the Battle of Britain, Beachcombing offers this remarkable photograph from 19 Squadron. 19 Squadron had fought over Dunkirk and spent the Battle of Britain in the front line at Duxford: the legless and incorrigible Douglas Bader was one of her pilots as was […]

    Garibaldi’s Worst Hours September 24, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Garibaldi's Worst Hours

    Giuseppe Garibaldi had been, in the late 1830s, an insurgent in Brazil: think Che Guevara with a good barber and bourgeoise decency. He had played the rhetorician who talked up Italian irregulars as they retreated from Rome in 1849: ‘Where we are Rome will be!’ He was the genius general who, in 1860, conquered half the peninsula […]

    A Kingdom in a London Hotel Room September 22, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    A Kingdom in a London Hotel Room

    Over the last weeks Beachcombing has offered a collection of posts from his Forgotten Kingdoms file. And he thought that today he would add to this with the smallest recognised state known to him: Suite 212 at Claridge’s. First a little background. Claridge’s has long had a reputation as the most exclusive London hotel. And […]

    Baron Munchhausen and Jack the Ripper September 21, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Baron Munchhausen and Jack the Ripper

    Beachcombing has long had a secret nemesis: Donald McCormick aka Richard Deacon, a British author. McCormick (1911-1998) wrote entertainingly on a bewildering series of topics including the Hell Fire Club, Mossad, Ian Fleming, the Kempa Tai and the death of Kitchener. Many of these books included doubtful elements: extremely valuable sources that no one else had ever […]

    The Cornbeef Sandwich that Almost Destroyed a Spacecraft… September 20, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    The Cornbeef Sandwich that Almost Destroyed a Spacecraft...

    Today astronauts have it easy when it comes to lunchtime.  They open  their MandMs or unpack a fabulous meal whipped up down at ground control – in 2006 celebrity chef, Rachael Ray even prepared them Swedish meatballs. Then there are the views… Life doesn’t really get much better. But ‘back in the day’ when the […]

    The Treasure Message: A Challenge September 18, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    The Treasure Message: A Challenge

    Beachcombing has a long-standing interest in the reliability of oral legend. Over how many decades can a piece of information be passed from mouth to mouth – without recourse to writing – and yet survive intact? So an example: a young Athenian fights in that city’s golden year, 490 BC, against the Persians. For how […]

    Dowsing for Submarines September 17, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Dowsing for Submarines

    Beachcombing, in his hoarding way, has been storing up references to the military use of dowsing over the past months: indeed, he has already posted on the question of British dowsing for machine guns in the Second World War and hopes to come soon to the fraught question of dowsing for land mines this fall. […]

    The Nine Unknown – An Invisible Library September 15, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Contemporary
    The Nine Unknown - An Invisible Library

    In Beachcombing’s ergot, ‘invisible libraries’ are books or collections of books that have never existed except in the fantasies of readers. And today he has a cracker. In Louis Pauwels and Jacques Bergier’s Morning of the Magicians there appears a description of the Nine Unknown Men of India and their notebooks. For those who do […]

    The Tiv and Hamlet September 12, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    The Tiv and Hamlet

    Laura Bohannan (aka Elenore Smith Bowen) was an anthropologist who came out of Oxford in the late 1940s. She did research with her husband Paul among the Tiv of Nigeria and the pair published several books on this federation over the next two decades. However, Bohannan also gave a remarkable BBC radio talk entitled, depending on […]

    Review: A Handbook on Hanging September 10, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Review: A Handbook on Hanging

    Beachcombing recently stumbled upon and cannot now shut up about Charles Duff’s A Handbook on Hanging: Being a Short Introduction to the Fine Art of Execution (1928) in a Nonsuch reprint.*  Yes, it gives a caricature of the history of hanging, while also communicating the case for and against abolition back in the days when the […]

    Tom Wintringham and Lenin’s Tractor September 8, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Tom Wintringham and Lenin’s Tractor

    Of all the intellectual perversions of modern times perhaps none was as bizarre and perhaps none had more serious consequences than the fawning attitude of some western democrats towards the Soviet Union and its satellites from the 1930s to the 1970s. The paeans of nonsense that there were written about Lenin and Stalin now beggar […]

    Image: Pius XII in a bombed out Rome September 7, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Medieval
    Image: Pius XII in a bombed out Rome

    What would have happened if photography had been invented not in the early nineteenth-century but a hundred years before Columbus crossed the waters blue? Well, Beachcombing imagines Franciscan monks running around with tripods and dark rooms being built next to monastic kitchens. The Church would have monopolised this new technology, not as an art, but […]

    Eating Roadkill September 6, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Eating Roadkill

    Beachcombing’s village of Little Snoring is on a busy road and Beachcombing has long learnt to avert his eyes as various poor mammals appear inert before him on the tarmac. But knowing the infinite ingenuity of his fellow human-beings Beachcombing was only partly surprised to learn last week that there is a literature dedicated to the […]

    Centaur of Volos September 5, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Contemporary
    Centaur of Volos

    All centaur-lovers with a honeymoon or a sabbatical coming up should buy a ticket to Knoxville, Tennessee and visit the second floor of the Hodges Library at the University there. Still encased in the Greek mud, in which it sank almost two thousand five hundred years ago, is a centaur, the only one you will […]

    History and Akasha – A Walk on the Wild Side… September 4, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Contemporary, Medieval
    History and Akasha - A Walk on the Wild Side...

    Bit of an unusual post today as Beachcombing plunges, with misgivings and fear, into Akasha. Akasha is – for those of you, like Beachcoming a week ago, who have not the foggiest –  ‘an unseen substance which is all around us all and present in every atom of this world and of the universe. This […]

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