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  • 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 […]

    Punishing Suicide August 24, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Punishing Suicide

    If you attempt to commit suicide today (and you survive) you will be treated with sympathy by your family and friends: if the state interests itself in your case it will be to offer mental health assistance or to prevent a repetition by some other means. The contrast, in the UK and other common law […]

    The Oldest Flame August 22, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Contemporary, Modern
    The Oldest Flame

    Inspired today by the description of a nineteenth-century visit to a British church: a private chapel attached to the Arundell family house at Lanherne (Cornwall). Within the chapel there was a tabernacle and ‘the great interest is in the tradition that, since the house has always been in Catholic hands, the lamp before the Tabernacle […]

    Jane Stanley Paints Castle-An-Dinas August 21, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Contemporary, Modern
    Jane Stanley Paints Castle-An-Dinas

    Jane Stanley is an extremely talented archaeological reconstruction artist, based out of Cornwall. Castle-an-Dinas is an Iron Age fort in the middle of that county, a six-acre site second only, in terms of its natural charisma, to South Cadbury in Somerset. Put Jane and Castle-an-Dinas together and you get some of the best historical fiction around, […]

    Zwanze in Wartime Brussels August 20, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Zwanze in Wartime Brussels

    Regular readers will remember previous posts in the jokes and practical jokes series: world war jokes, treasure hunting jokes, Derren Brown and spiders, the poor wife hunter and the classic of all classics, Brunelleschi’s cruelest scherzo, which sent a Florentine scurrying to the backwoods of Hungary. Today, we offer up a modest WW1 story from occupied […]

    In Search of Enys Tregarthen: ‘The Little Cripple’ August 19, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    In Search of Enys Tregarthen: 'The Little Cripple'

    Imagine being born, in the winter of 1850, while your father is away at sea. You find yourself in a vulnerable but aspirational household, perhaps the worst nineteenth-century social gradient of them all in Britain. As you slowly emerge into consciousness you start to understand that your father, a seaman, is rarely present and by the time […]

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