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  • Victorian sewer pigs June 7, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Victorian sewer pigs

              Beachcombing has a natural and commendable enmity towards sociology. Sociologists are the foes of history and must be resisted on the beaches, in the city and in the hills. (It does not help that his father-in-law is of that profession.) But he finds some of the nineteenth-century proto-sociologists intriguing and […]

    American Indians in Roman Europe? June 6, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    American Indians in Roman Europe?

                    Beachcombing always enjoys attempts by Euro-Asia-Africa’s various ethnic factions to claim the discovery of the New World. Put even a gingerly query into a search engine and you will soon find that, over the years, the Basques, the Welsh, the Babylonians, the Israelis, the Bantu and just […]

    Orgies in Victorian Skipton! June 5, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Orgies in Victorian Skipton!

            Walter White (1811-1893) wrote about his journeys around the British Isles and Continental Europe in such classics as Holidays in Tyrol and Eastern England: from the Thames to the Humber. He was perhaps not the most exciting travel writer being rather prone to detail. But that very ability to give details […]

    Longbow at Dunkirk June 4, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Longbow at Dunkirk

                        Donald Featherstone’s The Bowmen of England was written in 1968 and read by Beachcombing 7 long years ago. He is ashamed to say though – and this reflects badly on him rather than on the author – that the only thing he can remember is […]

    Victorian Will o’ the Wisp June 3, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Victorian Will o’ the Wisp

              Beachcombing is in a Victorian country mood this week – the kind that comes and goes. It should be no surprise then that he’s decided to give a short extract from one of his favourite Victorian country books, the autobiography of John Wilkes, a gamekeeper based (for much of his professional […]

    Vegetation on Mars June 2, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Vegetation on Mars

                    Mars has a long history of befuddling human minds. Think of Giovanni Schiaparelli mapping out the ‘canals’ of that planet. Poor Perceval Lowell wrecking his scientific reputation with such publications as Mars as the Abode of Life. Nevermind all those hopped up Americans taking to the streets […]

    Circumnavigating Africa six centuries before Christ June 1, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    Circumnavigating Africa six centuries before Christ

            Beachcombing can barely take down M. Cary and E.H. Warmington’s The Ancient Explorers without a tremble of excitement running through his body, such treasures are to be found there. One of his favourite sections is their dissection of Herodotus 4, 42-43, a passage where the Greek historian describes, with requisite scepticism, a […]

    Oleg Penkovsky, Six Breaths and World Destruction May 31, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Oleg Penkovsky, Six Breaths and World Destruction

        Beachcombing has never quite known what to make of Oleg Penkovsky, the most important double agent run by MI6, indeed by any power in the Cold War. Was he self-seeking? A traitor? A hero? These are puerile questions: he was probably all three. But now for a curiosity that is more amenable to […]

    Tibetan soldiers in the Second World War May 31, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Tibetan soldiers in the Second World War

                        Beachcombing has long been intrigued by the following account published in Tribune in October 1944 in Orwell’s As I Please. We know that Greenlanders fought the Germans, that Brazilians attempted to take Monte Cassino… but Tibetans in the Wehrmacht? The mind boggles. Is it genuine or […]

    Tyrkjaránið – Arab Pirates in Iceland May 30, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Tyrkjaránið - Arab Pirates in Iceland

            Despite rumors of a polar bear in medieval northern Africa and well attested penetration by Rus Vikings into the Volga in the tenth century contacts between the Arab world and Scandinavia are few until (very) modern times. All the more reason then for Beachcombing to enjoy the Tyrkjaránið, the Norse/Icelandic word for the […]

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