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  • Prelude to Epiphany: Fitzgerald in the Trenches January 5, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Prelude to Epiphany: Fitzgerald in the Trenches

    For Beachcombing a canonical text on the First World War is chapter thirteen of Fitzgerald’s Tender is the Night. Here FSF gets as close as anyone ever has to explaining why European civilisation committed suicide in 1915 and 1916. Dick and his party, including the vapid Rosemary have come to visit the First World War […]

    Image: Executing Christ January 3, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Image: Executing Christ

                              The Spanish Civil War… the junction of the twentieth century. Often sold as the beginning of the Second World War it was, in reality, the last blast of an older nineteenth-century battle, the battle between left and right. Once Barcelona had fallen […]

    New Year and Minnie Louise Haskins December 31, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    New Year and Minnie Louise Haskins

      Beachcombing is about to settle down to frying some aubergines (as you do). He thought though that before this he would offer by way of New Year greetings to all his readers the sentence that ends this piece in bold. Banal and even objectionable in their way these words by Minnie Louise Haskins were sanctified […]

    Image: Omagh Ground Zero December 23, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Image: Omagh Ground Zero

    Beachcombing has had to miss writing a serious post today because of the arrival of his second-born at the local hospital. He thought that, in lieu of that ‘serious post’, he would offer instead this extraordinary photo from Omagh in Northern Ireland 1997 – a celebration of what it means to eat, breathe and read good books. The […]

    Review: Moa Sightings December 22, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Review: Moa Sightings

    [automatic reserve post]   When Beachcombing was just a wee sprog, he used to read books and be transported to other  worlds. Those were the times when three hundred pages written by John Buchan, Evelyn Waugh or Enid Blyton could set off fire balls in his head. But then Beachcombing lost his innocence – schooling […]

    The Library of Dream December 15, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    The Library of Dream

    Beachcombing has, on previous occasions, enumerated some of his preferred invisible libraries: books or collections of books that never existed save in the imagination of fantasizing authors. And he could hardly overlook a notable recent contribution to the genre, the Library of Dreams by Neil Gaiman. For those who don’t know NG is an author of graphic novels and novels. […]

    Review: Creative Malady December 13, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Review: Creative Malady

    George Pickering (obit 1980) was, when he wrote his three-hundred-page essay Creative Malady (George Allen and Unwin 1974), a retired Professor of Medicine from the University of London and Master of Pembroke College (Oxford). In his younger days he had worked on headaches, hypertension and peptic ulcers – all illnesses then linked to mental states. And […]

    Image: St Paul’s Rides the Blitz December 9, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Image: St Paul's Rides the Blitz

    Beachcombing should start today with an apology. In his mission statement about his Image series he promised to put up only little known photographs and paintings. And yet here he is, six months on, offering the most famous of all British pictures from 1940, as if it were a scoop. Sorry. Beachcombing only hopes the […]

    Classicists and the Other Side December 7, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Contemporary
    Classicists and the Other Side

    Beachcombing recently opened up a new tag on ‘Rogue Researchers’, lovable academics who have left the bounds of their respectable (and incredibly tedious) colleagues by, say, talking to spirits at archaeological digs, boiling dormice alive or, a personal Beachcombing favourite, re-enacting Mayan heart removal on Mexican John Does. And today he wants to induct a […]

    Back to the Arabian unicorn December 6, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Medieval
    Back to the Arabian unicorn

    Beachcombing – three long moons ago – ran an article on a European sighting of two unicorns at Mecca (of all places) in the sixteenth century. Given his bewilderment at the time he feels obliged to add this fascinating fragment that he recently stumbled upon. Strangest of all [the mythical beasties of south-west Arabia] is the Tahish. It is a fearsome […]

    Image: Arresting Trouble December 4, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Image: Arresting Trouble

    The Beachcombing family has been shook tonight by phantom (?) contractions and Mrs B. is  upstairs wondering whether or not she is about to give birth. Beachcombing is a nursing a frullato downstairs confident that the baby is still a month away. But then Beachcombing is wrong about almost everything and that leads him nicely to […]

    Review: The Folio Book of Historical Mysteries December 2, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Contemporary, Medieval, Modern, Prehistoric
    Review: The Folio Book of Historical Mysteries

    The Folio Society, for those who don’t know, is a British publishing company that produces high-quality editions of high-quality titles and their books are reasonably priced for what they are – slipcases, hand-stitching…. These books cannot – there is always a catch – be bought individually (at least not first-hand…) and the reader has to become a […]

    Jean Hill Misremembering Kennedy November 30, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Jean Hill Misremembering Kennedy

      What lying dogs we are! Beachcombing is referring to humanity’s extraordinary ability to warp and deform both our immediate perception of the world and also our memories of those perceptions. You don’t believe Beachcombing? Then take the extraordinary case of Jean Hill (obit 2000). Jean – aka ‘the Lady in Red’ – was an […]

    Dear Lord and Father: Songs Against Songs November 29, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Dear Lord and Father: Songs Against Songs

    Music is strangely resistant to bizzarism. Certainly, after years of reading Beachcombing has only about five pages of scribbled  notes on music in an exercise book and most of those about rock, pop and other post-war perversions. Did Mozart, Purcell, Bach and the rest never get up to anything peculiar? It does not seem possible and yet their […]

    Bats Fight Japan November 28, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Bats Fight Japan

    Beachcombing recently described  the possible Byzantine use of weaponised crows soaked in pitch and wondered aloud whether other birds or flying creatures had been employed by ancient or medieval armies. And, almost immediately, like an answer from heaven, he got three emails pointing him to a wonderful story that he’d never heard before:  kudos to Ostrich (a bizarrist of […]

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