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  • The Babel of History May 2, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
    The Babel of History

      The past according to a much worn-line is ‘a foreign country, they do things differently there’. Of course, if this were all then history would be a doddle. It would be enough to fill the Cutty Sark with sabres and give the natives music sheets for their acres. But, unfortunately for those who like […]

    Shadowfax: A Fantasy Horse April 27, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Shadowfax: A Fantasy Horse

    J.R.R. Tolkien ‘horsed’ his world with some wonderful creations. There was Roheryn the stallion of Arogan, Arod a steed so strong that he carried an elf and a dwarf together on his back and even the hobbits’ loyal pony Bill. But most memorable of all was Shadowfax, who bears the mage Gandalf, ‘like the north […]

    Human Confetti in the Jungle of Guyana April 23, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Human Confetti in the Jungle of Guyana

    Beach prides himself in getting together some of the most striking photographs possible to show his students at uni. However, he is dismayed how often good photographs require dead bodies: a revolutionary Spanish soldier with his head disintegrating, Aldo Moro curled in a fœtus in the back of that fiat, Jesse James laid out, the […]

    Irish Merman Off Connemara April 21, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Irish Merman Off Connemara

    ***Beach dedicates this to Mike Dash who sent in the clipping*** The Nottingham Evening Post, Aug 26 1937 ran with a merman story that was new (at least to this mermaid enthusiast). Note curious claims for his dimensions or is this just a misunderstanding on the part of the journalist in the English Midlands. The […]

    Nanny Coincidence April 19, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Nanny Coincidence

    When Churchill died in 1965 at the age of 90 there was one picture by his bedside. The picture was not of his wife (though their marriage had been a success), nor of his children, nor of his parents. Rather it was of his nanny who had left the earth seventy years before (obit 1895). […]

    Newspaper Archives as Controls or Filters April 18, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Newspaper Archives as Controls or Filters

    Beachcombing spent more time than was strictly necessary last summer looking at nineteenth- and twentieth-century newspaper archives. It is an extraordinary world. You constantly find yourself caught up on headlines (‘Sea-monster seen in the Channel’, ‘Germans eat the French’) that cannot easily be ignored and then you take one last look over the page and […]

    Pixie-Led in the South-West April 16, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Pixie-Led in the South-West

    Beachcombing is back to the fairies. One subject that has intrigued him through this spring is the rare fairy-phenomenon of being ‘pixie-led’, one particularly associated with the south-west of England: hence the name as ‘the pixies’ are the fairies of Cornwall and Devon. To be pixie-led is to be led astray by the good folk […]

    Review: Freedoms Fliers by J. Todd Moye April 15, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Review: Freedoms Fliers by J. Todd Moye

    Wars have the habit of shaking up the social order in a way that a hoary old conservative like Beachcombing finds rather disturbing. Children join militias: think the moving photographs of fourteen and fifteen year German ‘soldiers’ guarding the Atlantic wall or ‘that scene’ in Doctor Zhivago. Gender relations are bent in knots: women are […]

    Singing Enemy Songs: Lili Marleen April 13, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Singing Enemy Songs: Lili Marleen

    One of the most moving moments in cinema is the extraordinary ending of Kubrick’s Paths of Glory. A young German girl is pulled in front of a crowd of French soldiers and forced to sing. The poilu mock her but as she nervously begins  the mood changes. The soldiers join in and drown her anxious, […]

    Suicide and Historical Loopholes April 7, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite, Ancient, Contemporary, Modern
    Suicide and Historical Loopholes

    Suicide has proved abhorrent to most spiritual traditions. Certainly, the great monotheistic religions and most of the far Eastern religions have condemned ‘self-murder’: cue lots of pulpit bashing and descriptions of hell or unpleasant reincarnations. This begs the question though of what you can do if you live in 500 BC or 500 AD or […]

    John Lukacs: The Legacy of the Second World War April 5, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    John Lukacs: The Legacy of the Second World War

    John Lukacs’s The Legacy of the Second World War is, like most books by that brilliant and maverick historian, a bit of a mess. The chapter headings say it all. Chapter One, ‘Seventy Years Later’ and Chapter Two ‘the Place of the Second World War’ can pass muster. However, then everything is thrown off kilter. […]

    Icelandic Penis Collections, Gnome Sanctuaries and Other Unusual Museums April 3, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite, Contemporary
    Icelandic Penis Collections, Gnome Sanctuaries and Other Unusual Museums

    Beachcombing was in his early teens on holiday in Cornwall when he went to the Gnome Museum. There was a very likeable hippy in her early forties (?) who ran the place and showed Beach and family around a couple of rooms and the garden where she had ‘seen’ the gnomes: there had been some […]

    The Republic of New Afrika April 2, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    The Republic of New Afrika

    The Forgotten Kingdoms series continues with an interesting and ultimately bloody recent experiment in nationhood: the Republic of New Afrika [sic]. Created 31 March 1968 the RNA was a post Malcolm-X attempt to create a homeland for Afro-Americans who could not be, the founders believed, represented or protected by the US government. The brain-child of […]

    The Bizarrest Date in History March 29, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    The Bizarrest Date in History

    Long-term readers of this blog will know that Beachcombing has a thing about futurist food: previous posts have included, indeed, an overview of attempts by the futurists to revolutionize what we eat and, perhaps better, still an unusual meal that ended with a woman being devoured. For those who have not the time or the […]

    Britain’s Obsession with the Second World War March 27, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite, Contemporary
    Britain's Obsession with the Second World War

    Anyone who knows Britain will be aware of the constant references to the Second World War in the island’s political culture, particularly when  national sovereignty is at stake. Harold Wilson decried appeals to ‘the Dunkirk Spirit’: and then shamelessly used the same trick himself. And the recent spats over Britain’s use of its ‘veto’ within […]

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