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  • Sugar Hell December 28, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Medieval, Modern
    Sugar Hell

    Nutritionists disagree on almost everything. However, if you go and visit several score one of the few points of consensus (along with ‘eat vegetables’) is that sugar is bad for us: in fact, there is far more agreement about sugar than about fat. Humanity’s dalliance with sugar dates back to the first time that a brave […]

    Supernatural Truce on Christmas Eve December 24, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Supernatural Truce on Christmas Eve

    This is a beautiful idea, but evidence for it is difficult to find. Essentially all supernatural beings agree not to haunt or terrify humans on Christmas eve. Can anyone supply any other evidence? drbeachcombing At yahoo DOT com Beach has got it back to the 1880s. Enjoy the beautiful late Victorian writing… We remember now […]

    Magician Almost Lynched in France December 23, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Magician Almost Lynched in France

    Jean Eugène Robert-Houdin is often said to be the father of modern conjuring. But like many pioneers his innovations brought him difficulties and even the threat of physical violence: The great magician of the Palais National possesses at St. Gervais, in the vicinity of Blois, a pleasant domain where he spent the last summer. There, […]

    Folklore Snake Exaggerations from the US December 22, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Folklore Snake Exaggerations from the US

    Beach has often written on the myths created by American newspapers: and the (deliberately?) naive recycling of the same by British newspapers. Here is a nice example which is making fun of tales concerning snakes: the only surprise perhaps is the absence of the ‘monstrous snake’. True to form this was taken by a Lancashire newspaper (20 […]

    ‘God, I Hate That Field’ December 20, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
    ‘God, I Hate That Field’

    You are a modest farmer in one of the English shires and you have twenty fields to your name. Note that these fields are not the ‘quarters’ of the North American prairies, from Manitoba to Iowa. These are the irregularly shaped bits (often very small bits) of arable land begged from the landscape and from […]

    Pre Dating Naked Emma in the Pool December 19, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Pre Dating Naked Emma in the Pool

    This description from Judge, Some West Surrey Villages, 34, introduces us to the ghost of the Silent Pool at Albury near Guildford (Surrey, Southern England) and also some of the problem associated with it. When we quit Albury Park and the old church, we are within a few yards of the Silent Pool, which is said […]

    Morris Dancers from Hell December 18, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Morris Dancers from Hell

    Imagine that you have a problem in your west African village. A witch is believed to be among you, or worse still someone has been indulging in cannibalism. How do you deal with such miscreants: there is no police force with the resources, and the local chief is at the end of his tether. Well, […]

    Review: Atlas of Countries that Don’t Exist December 16, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Review: Atlas of Countries that Don't Exist

    ***Thanks to Ricardo for sending this one in*** One of the most heart-breaking aspects of the rise of ISIL/ISIS/DAESH is the way the Daeshites have butchered their way through the brilliantly coloured mosaic of ethnic, linguistic and, of course, religious tiles, in northern Iraq. In twenty years when the Caliphate has been consigned to the […]

    Black Rock Knocking Ghost December 15, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Black Rock Knocking Ghost

    Lots of ghosts knock, but this one was monotonous in technique and timetable. We are in Black Rock just outside Dublin. During the last four or five weeks, the residents in Blackrock have been kept state of excitement the constant nocturnal visitations of a rival of the ancient spectral denizen of Cock Lane. The place […]

    Witch Blood Scratching and Keeping? December 12, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Witch Blood Scratching and Keeping?

    Beach has over the years collected, particularly with the help of readers, a number of stories of blood spilling and witches. The idea is that by spilling blood, typically taken with a bramble, you can cure the witch’s overlooking. There are though some variations on this theme, including to judge by this report from 15 […]

    Two Centuries of Historical Memory? December 11, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Two Centuries of Historical Memory?

    In the 1980s Beach read an article on Ronald Reagan that described the then President (born in 1911) talking to veterans of Gettysburg as a child. It was a spark on kindling for the historic imagination. Here is a striking nineteenth-century equivalent that has given Beach much pleasure today. It was recorded in 1851 in […]

    A Canadian Fear Census December 10, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    A Canadian Fear Census

    John Widdowson is one of our finest British folklorists and some of his most interesting work has been on how to scare the living bejesus out of ten year olds. Indeed, his first book had the winsome name If You Don’t Be Good and describes how parents, in the 1960s and 1970s, in Newfoundland (Canada), […]

    Victorian Urban Legend: Eating Fido December 6, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Victorian Urban Legend: Eating Fido

    You all know the story. Young couple go out on their first date and decide to drive out to the twilight lake with a Kentucky Fried Chicken. They arrive and in the dark start chewing on the delicious white meat only for the girl to say that hers tastes strange. She takes a number of […]

    The Word Poltergeist in English December 2, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The Word Poltergeist in English

    When did English-speakers start using the word Poltergeist? The conventional answer to this question is in 1848 when Catharine Crowe wrote, in her The Night Side of Nature, the following passage while describing spirits of the dead. [B]ut there is nothing sportive or mischievous, nor, except where an injunction is disobeyed, or a request refused, […]

    Index Biography #24: Prize a book November 30, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Index Biography #24: Prize a 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 […]

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