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Hot Chocolate at High Mass November 6, 2010

Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
Hot Chocolate at High Mass

Beachcombing was doing some research, trying to catch up with a student’s reading on the origins of chocolate and came across this gem. It is the story of a bishop, Bernardino de Salazar, who was poisoned because he tried to stop the women in his congregation from taking chocolate drinks during high mass. Our narrator is […]

Baby-Eating Eagles November 5, 2010

Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
Baby-Eating Eagles

When Beachcombing first came to Italy, many years ago, he spent a summer in a room with an enormous wardrobe – the stuff of C.S. Lewis fantasies. This wardrobe was not only huge, but it also had a memorable print on the front. An eagle was being attacked by a weepy mother and in the […]

The Moas of Cannibal Gorge November 4, 2010

Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
The Moas of Cannibal Gorge

Beachcombing is in an ornithological mood this month. It all started off with the druidic ravens at the Tower of London, then came the hibernating swallows, the parrots of Orinoco, swan-necked Mary Beard and today, to round off the series, he turns to one of his favourite bird stories of all time: the moa of the Cannibal […]

The Parrots of the Atures November 2, 2010

Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
The Parrots of the Atures

  Since beginning this blog five months ago Beachcombing has noticed a monotonous pattern. He takes out a long-treasured fragment of bizarre history, all fired up to write a cracking whiz-bang post. And then, when he comes to triple-check the facts, he discovers that the event never happened – that it was based on a misunderstanding […]

The mystery of the hibernating hirundines October 31, 2010

Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
The mystery of the hibernating hirundines

Humans create ideas to explain natural phenomenon. Most of these explanations are worth little more than the cinders that Beachcombing nightly sweeps up from the fire. These explanations are then superseded by other explanations – that typically bear as little relation to truth – and so knowledge marches heroically on… Inevitably, though some branches of […]

Review: Farquhar, Foolishly Forgotten Americans October 30, 2010

Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
Review: Farquhar, Foolishly Forgotten Americans

A small note: today’s the day that Beachcombing’s first Bizarre Bibliography goes up – Mrs B has taken little Miss B to music therapy (truly…) so Beach has a couple of hours to burn. This bibliography should appear on the horizontal tabs above before evening. It will be short. At first. Any contributions or links […]

The Made-Up Battle of Karánsebes October 28, 2010

Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
The Made-Up Battle of Karánsebes

Wishing to distract himself from various home traumas Beachcombing thought that he would write today on one of his favourite ‘cobbler’ (tosh, nonsense) reports of all time: the Battle of Karansebes (Karánsebes for the minority who like accents on their conflicts). Here’s the game-plan. Beachcombing will start with the facts, move on to the legend […]

The Last Scalping in History? October 26, 2010

Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
The Last Scalping in History?

Beachcombing cannot deny it. He has a bit of a thing about the removal of heads this week. First, there was the question of the last western beheadings, second an exploration by photograph of Japanese decapitations in the Second World War and today he is going to move on to a close cousin of beheading, […]

The Great Republic of Rough and Ready October 22, 2010

Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
The Great Republic of Rough and Ready

Pascal and Small Coloured Things’ visit to Beachcombing’s Italian house is continuing, Little Miss B is changing her sleeping patterns, to the consternation of all, and Mrs B is not getting any (sleep). But, not withstanding this whirl of inactivity, Beachcombing can still find it in himself to slip down to the study with a […]

Getting the Future Wrong: Book titles October 20, 2010

Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
Getting the Future Wrong: Book titles

Beachcombing is in disgrace this morning. Friends of his from Britain, Pascal and Pascal’s wife Small Coloured Thing have been planning a jaunt over to Italy and Beachcombing’s home there. This was a cause of great celebration two weeks ago when the holiday was agreed upon. But then Beachcombing was so overwhelmed by mid-term exams […]

Elizabeth Siddal: poets behaving badly October 19, 2010

Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
Elizabeth Siddal: poets behaving badly

Beachcombing has a distant day almost constantly in mind - one that he fears tremendously - when little Miss B will arrive home from school prom or a disco or a walk in a wood with an ear-ringed possibly nose-ringed man on her arm, only to announce in dulcet tones: ‘Mum, Dad this is John, he is a poet’. For […]

Review: After the Funeral – the Posthumous Adventures of Famous Corpses October 17, 2010

Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
Review: After the Funeral - the Posthumous Adventures of Famous Corpses

Beachcombing has been spending a tense evening debating with Mrs B over their choice of Au Pair – God help the poor girl! And it is with some relief that he now escapes to the computer to write up his first review in a month. Of course, it is not that there are no good […]

Christopher Columbus and Mermaids October 16, 2010

Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
Christopher Columbus and Mermaids

Beachcombing cannot find it in himself to envy Christopher Columbus. All that salt water and all those incipient rebellions must have wreaked havoc on the good navigator’s blood pressure. But in one thing alone Beachcombing confesses to green-eyed rabid jealousy: the great Genovese explorer saw Mermaids, not once, but twice in his life, while the closest poor […]

Harry: A 175 Year Old Survivor of the Beagle? October 15, 2010

Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
Harry: A 175 Year Old Survivor of the Beagle?

Beachcombing has been interested in longevity recently and thought that today he would highlight the remarkable case of Harry, a particularly long-lived crew member of the Beagle, the boat on which Darwin travelled to the Galapagos and on which the English scientist hatched his explosive ideas. Now some dates to give a sense of just […]

Druidic Ravens at the Tower of London? October 10, 2010

Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
Druidic Ravens at the Tower of London?

Beachcombing got an email this week from a Canadian history student. ‘Seeing as you seem to have knowledge of historical things quite off the beaten track I thought I’d seek some historic tourism advice. I’m a Canadian history student and over Christmas I’ll be travelling to London. I plan on a doing a couple of […]

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