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  • It is a fact universally acknowledged that an Inuit in possession… July 21, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    It is a fact universally acknowledged that an Inuit in possession…

    Imagine Jane Austen at her writing desk while sister is downstairs playing the harpsichord. Suddenly there is an excited knock on the door and Cassandra comes running up the stairs. ‘Jane, tis so exciting, some Inuit have come to the Hall. George Cartwright brought them back from Labrador.’ Jane puts down her pen and passes […]

    Flying Drums in Tibet July 20, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
    Flying Drums in Tibet

    A lot of interest recently in the objects used by witches to fly: broomsticks, trees etc: Other weird flying objects, drbeachcombing AT yahoo DOT com. This brought Beach to parallel traditions, among which is the extraordinary flying drum of Tibet. An earliest, perhaps the earliest example on record follows here.  The description is of a […]

    A Suicidal Ghost July 19, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    A Suicidal Ghost

    To follow up on a recentish post on suicide, here is a suicide and a ghost. Note that the suicide is certainly factual, as he had just appeared in the newspaper. Beach was struck by how jaunty, active and, well, pissed this ghost was. Thinking about it there are some of these ghost stories where […]

    Colonialism and Burying the Irish Under Buildings July 18, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
    Colonialism and Burying the Irish Under Buildings

    Luise White published, in 2000, her Speaking with Vampires: Rumor and History in Colonial Africa. Very crudely – the book is difficult to reduce to a simple core because it recognizes complexity on the ground –White shows how colonial anxiety was played out through what she chose to call ‘vampire’ legends. Europeans and their agents […]

    Review: Barry, Witchcraft and Demonology July 17, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Review: Barry, Witchcraft and Demonology

    Witchcraft is extraordinarily popular in history faculties: there can be few first grade universities that don’t offer either a course on witchcraft or a course that has a witchcraft component. But caveat emptor, actually most of these courses are not about witchcraft, but about the witch hunt, in which tens of thousands of men and […]

    Evans-Wentz and a Missing Thesis July 16, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Evans-Wentz and a Missing Thesis

    Walter Evans-Wentz (obit 1965) was an American mystic who wrote, as a young man, before his interests went eastwards, the most important twentieth-century book about fairies: The Fairy Faith in Celtic Countries, published at Oxford in 1911. That book, available in many places on the web, can be broken down into three parts. The first […]

    The Wessel Coins #1: Morry Isenberg’s Discovery July 14, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
    The Wessel Coins #1: Morry Isenberg’s Discovery

    28 February 2013 the Indiana-University-Purdue-University sent out a press release announcing modestly: ‘IUPUI led expedition seeks source of thousand-year-old coins in Aboriginal Australia’. Nothing to see, move on? Well, it took the world’s press some time to catch on, the real interest only came in May. But, of course, ‘thousand’ year old coins in Australia […]

    A Coincidence in the County Palatine? July 13, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    A Coincidence in the County Palatine?

    ***Dedicated to Borky who has greater faith in coincidences than Beach*** Chesterton has that beautiful line that ‘coincidences are spiritual puns’. Well, today’s post is to celebrate a rare and seemingly unassailable coincidence in the life of this blogger: as to the ‘pun’ part any solutions gratefully accepted – drbeachcombing AT yahoo DOT com. Should […]

    The Bull of Brandlesholme (another reason to avoid Lancashire) July 10, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The Bull of Brandlesholme (another reason to avoid Lancashire)

    A transcendental experience this morning in the wood: came face to face with a cow-sized wild boar that sniffed at me and then went to chew on a neighbour’s cherries. Medium-sized or large creatures in the wild often have a  magical quality: foxes and deer are a particular favourite. ‘The Lords of Life’, as Lawrence […]

    Fastest Marchers July 8, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
    Fastest Marchers

    How far can the average person walk in a day? Most of us walk about three miles an hour, which should mean that, if we didn’t develop blisters or stitch and if a man with jack boots had a pistol at our head, we could probably manage between thirty and forty miles a day. But […]

    Weird Jobs in the 1881 UK Census July 7, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Weird Jobs in the 1881 UK Census

    Spent the night and early morning looking for a much loved missing tortoise: mission accomplished at 6.42 amdist tears and recriminations. How do you punish a tortoise? This morning trying to come down from too much chocolate and coca cola. Took to racing through the 1881 census looking for unusual jobs and strange households: winding […]

    Scooby Doo, Shag and the Bleachworks July 5, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Scooby Doo, Shag and the Bleachworks

    This is a weird little story from a nineteenth-century Lancashire history. You remember the Scooby Doo formula: kids turn up, find that their local fun park is haunted by a ghost, who keeps tripping on the white sheet, and then, finally, they unmask the janitor? Well, this is a Bury equivalent. The story dates to […]

    Crowds #7: Fleeing July 4, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Crowds #7: Fleeing

    Beach greatly enjoyed, last year, writing a series of posts on crowds: i.e ransacking the web for likely images with the philosophy that groups, particularly ecstatic, tense or ‘altered’ groups make for interesting studies. There was crowds as art, those silly men with straw hats from August 1914, listening crowds, religion and crowds, prisoner crowds […]

    Turning Back the Years in Oz July 3, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
    Turning Back the Years in Oz

    ***With thanks to Invisible and Wade*** Consider a curious thing. Australian prehistory is far easier to rewrite than American prehistory. If you begin to question the route by which the Aborigines arrived in Australia, or posit an early Indian influx onto the continent or even begin to speculate about mahogany boats and seventeenth-century Caucasoid skulls […]

    Coulrophobia and Cricket July 2, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Coulrophobia and Cricket

    There are many reasons to loathe the English but cricket is not one of them. Cricket, according to the romantics, was the game that the squire would play with their tenants, small time farmers and landless labourers on the village green on distant Sundays in the eighteenth century. Trevelyan wrote with pardonable exaggeration: ‘if the […]

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