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  • The Greater Irish Rattlesnake? October 14, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    The Greater Irish Rattlesnake?

    Irish children are brought up with the attractive lie that St Patrick drove all snakes from the country when he arrived in Ireland in the fifth century. Certainly there are no indigenous snakes in Ireland, but over the years small snake populations have been established; not least in the Irish boom when snakes became prestige […]

    The Poison Duel 8#: Animal Poison Duels October 12, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The Poison Duel 8#: Animal Poison Duels

    Thanks to Chris from Haunted Ohio Books for pointing out a dimension of the poison duel that Beach had recklessly passed by: poison duel by animal. First, the tarantula duel from 1887 courtesy of Chris Grand Forks [North Dakota] Daily Herald 20 September 1887: p. 3 A Toledo (O) special dispatch says: Particulars of a […]

    The Poison Duel 7#: Molever vs Mullins October 9, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The Poison Duel 7#: Molever vs Mullins

    To add to the Poison Duels series here is another fictional story. This time from the Sunderland Daily Echo 17 July 1895, but taken originally from Tit Bit 21 July 1894. Beach loved it and found it more satisfying than the other poison duel set in Germany. Other Poison Duel fictions? Drbeachcombing AT yahoo DOT com There were […]

    Drilling Out Demons in Nineteenth-Century France October 7, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Drilling Out Demons in Nineteenth-Century France

    Folie a deux was once used by psychologists to describe shared madness. Not just one person, but two or three or many more experience the same unreasonable convictions. Strange History wants to offer a short series of cases of shared madness within households, i.e. people living together, typically families. It should be noted that for […]

    The Poison Duel 6#: The Poisoned Draught October 5, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The Poison Duel 6#: The Poisoned Draught

    There follows a story that appeared during research into poison duels. As with many duel stories it is thrilling: ref Hartlepool Mail, 18 Dec 1888, 4. Herr Karl von Krulhanser— the Professor, he was called— was an eccentric man of science. With the exception of a few students, to whom he gave private lessons, he […]

    The Poison Duel 5#: Poison Dominoes in Poland September 27, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The Poison Duel 5#: Poison Dominoes in Poland

    The poison duel is dramatic enough: two men with two glasses before them, one poison, one not. Both swig at the same time. But just imagine now, instead, that you add dominoes into the mix. Yes, dominoes… Perhaps only death by lawn bowling or tiddlewinks could be more exciting. This story dates to 1882 when […]

    Human Knowledge of Change September 26, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Contemporary, Medieval, Modern, Prehistoric
    Human Knowledge of Change

    Humanity began its long escape from the seasons about 10000 years ago when the Neolithic Revolution saw a nomadic primate named homo sapiens start to settle, grow plants, drink beer and domesticate animals. Though some of our cousins in the Amazon rainforest and the Pacific still keep up an essentially natural animal existence, most of […]

    An Invisible Library Among the Fairies September 25, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    An Invisible Library Among the Fairies

    Imagine that you have just been captured by the pixies. You are dragged down into one of the underground prisons and thrown into a dim room. However, while banging your fists on the now locked door you see that there is at least one distraction: a rich volume balanced on a circular stand ‘as one sometimes […]

    The Poison Duel 4#: The Medical Origins of the Poison Duel? September 23, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
    The Poison Duel 4#: The Medical Origins of the Poison Duel?

    The earliest nineteenth-century poison duel seems to have been that almost fought in 1821 in Virginia. However, there are pre-nineteenth-century records and strangely they concern doctors. The earliest record anywhere that Beach has been able to dig up was an alleged reference in the Iranian poet Nizami (obit 1209). Nizami in one poem (Treasury of […]

    D’Annunzio as Father: the Ballroom Babies September 20, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    D'Annunzio as Father: the Ballroom Babies

    Motherhood comes naturally, says the sage, fatherhood, instead, must be learnt. That is certainly the experience of the present blogger with two young daughters (soon to be, God willing, three) and he was amused to come across this dream in the works of Gabriele D’Annunzio, Italian genius and cad, one of the most self referential […]

    The Poison Duel 3#: Poison at Dawn in Virginia September 19, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The Poison Duel 3#: Poison at Dawn in Virginia

    Throughout the poison duels series Beach has noted their essential lack of veracity: that is most seem to be made up or at least there is no respectable proof that they took place. Here, however, is one case that seems quite reliable. There was not, admittedly, a poison duel: but someone suggested such a duel […]

    The Poison Duel 2#: Crossing Poison Pills in Louisiana September 17, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The Poison Duel 2#: Crossing Poison Pills in Louisiana

    The following story, reported in 1895, uses assumed names and starts in Louisiana, the cradle of the tall tale: be suspicious, be very suspicious. A man, de Vailliere, approaches a woman to learn that another, Armand, is interested in her. Armand feeling insulted offers a duel: but here brave de Vallierre feels himself on the […]

    The Poison Duel 1#: Introduction September 14, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The Poison Duel 1#: Introduction

    The poison duel is a classic of duelling literature. Two men decide to settle a matter of honour using poison as a weapon. Here the exact modality of life and death varies but the basic strategy is as follows: a pill is filled with water, and a second pill is filled with poison (sometimes glasses […]

    Speaking Fireball in Luton (Devon) September 11, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Speaking Fireball in Luton (Devon)

    Beach so liked the fireball stories from last month that he has been looking for some more and came across this incredible encounter from southern Devon, 1836. He was hoping for mad papists and great balls of flame, instead he got sincere yokels at midnight and omens. Still a great story. The author is a middle […]

    More On Cauls and Sacs September 9, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite, Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
    More On Cauls and Sacs

    Anthropologists have their work cut out for them. Despite the fact that we are all – from the Kalihari Bushman to the Californian surfer – one and the same species, there are so many differences between human societies, as to be almost embarrassing. However, there are a series of important and trivial facts that bind […]

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