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  • 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 […]

    Swallowed by a Whale? September 8, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Swallowed by a Whale?

    In the late twentieth century whales became cool. They appeared in Star Trek films, people bought cds and listened to whales talking to each other and, of course, undergraduates walked around campuses with ‘No Way Norway’ signs while talking earnestly about boycotting sushi bars. But whales are not only cool but massive and even if […]

    Fake Ghost Battle from Cornwall? September 7, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite, Modern
    Fake Ghost Battle from Cornwall?

    Beach is in search of a ghost battle, only the ghost battle does not seem to have ever taken place. This is not said in the heavy materialist sense that such things cannot happen: though they probably can’t. It is said with the frustration of six or seven hours spent looking for this mysterious battle […]

    Nietzsche, the Prostitutes and the Piano September 6, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Nietzsche, the Prostitutes and the Piano

    A WIBT moment from the first age of mighty Fred Nietzsche. As a student, aged 21, in February 1865, the moustached one visited Cologne and there he was left, according to his then good friend, and generally reliable witness, Paul Deussen (obit 1919), by a coachman at a brothel. Fred, who claimed that he had […]

    Mysterious Boggart Body Found in Manchester September 4, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Mysterious Boggart Body Found in Manchester

    Beach apologises first of all for three days of animals: cats, killer sheep and now boggarts, but this one really got his curiosity going. The book in which the description is found is Edwardian, but the author is recalling his boyhood in mid-nineteenth century Lancashire on the edge of Boggart Hole Clough in northern Manchester. […]

    Killer Sheep September 3, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Killer Sheep

    Sheep are some of the most benign, unthreatening animals that you can hope to meet. Think of a ewe bleating ineffectually over her young as the farmer comes for his prey, or one of the most pathetic images in the whole of creation, a grown sheep running to suckle when it perceives a threat, almost knocking […]

    Highland Cat Killing and Cat Demons September 2, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Highland Cat Killing and Cat Demons

    There is a long tradition of cats being either pampered by humans or being killed in various ghastly ways. As noted before on this blog – the cat throwing of the Lowlands, for example – cat cruelty was, in the early modern period, institutionalized. Here is one horrific example from the Hebrides. Cat lovers might want […]

    Index Biography #10: Prize = a good book August 31, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Index Biography #10: Prize = a good book

    The Index Biography is a new form of biography pioneered by this blog and introduced in a previous post. The creator must find a biography of a famous individual from history, they must turn to the index and write down eight peripheral facts about the individual’s life. We offered up previously here Sheridan le Fanu and Joseph […]

    Thumb-Kissing Irish-Style August 30, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Thumb-Kissing Irish-Style

    Thumb kissing was the legal equivalent of crossing fingers in nineteenth-century Ireland. The witness is given the Bible, that as a good Catholic, should be a moment of high religious importance. But what would happen if you kissed say your thumb holding the book rather than the Bible itself? Well, it wouldn’t count would it! […]

    The Ashanti Ewer August 29, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
    The Ashanti Ewer

    ***Thanks to RG for the tip*** A brilliant wrong place story that has just come strangehistory’s way. Imagine that in the late nineteenth century you stumble upon a medieval ewer (a kind of jug), the heaviest of its kind, in fact, weighing an incredible 18.6 kilos (just for the record that’s almost exactly how many […]

    Review: Mrs Wakeman vs. The Antichrist August 28, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Review: Mrs Wakeman vs. The Antichrist

    Behind the Stars and Stripes wavering over corn fields and Malborough man coughing up his lungs, there is vast hinterland of American strangeness that European countries, cursed by more measured, deeper histories, fail to compete with. Perhaps it’s the melting pot, perhaps it is the relative lack of rules, perhaps it is the welcome failure […]

    Napoleon and the Red Man: Selling Your Soul for European Dominion August 27, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Napoleon and the Red Man: Selling Your Soul for European Dominion

    Beach must start this post with a rider: he LOATHES Napoleon. The man who destroyed the Venetian Republic; who murdered (directly or indirectly) hundreds of thousands of innocents; who filled French galleries and museums with plunder; who put the crown (which wasn’t his) on his own head; who perpetuated the worst revolution of all, in […]

    Preferring Hell to Heaven: Machiavelli August 25, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
    Preferring Hell to Heaven: Machiavelli

    We all dream every night – a simple physiological fact – and yet most of these dreams are forgotten by the individual and even those that are remembered rarely enter history. However, on occasion a dream slips through into record, either because it changes the world or because it represents a life. ‘Machiavelli’s dream’ is […]

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