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  • Image: Cow Sheds and Massacres January 11, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Image: Cow Sheds and Massacres

    Beachcombing has had the novel experience, in these days of premature babies, of watching lots of history documentaries. It is one of the few things that you can do while syringe feeding a fifteen-day-old tot and hoping that she will sleep. After years of staying away from television, he’s been treated to a lot of sub-standard stuff, but […]

    Last Will and Testament of a Pig January 10, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    Last Will and Testament of a Pig

    Beachcombing ran across a curious little work today: the Testamentum Porcelli, Will of a Pig. It is possible that he read it many years ago because it seemed vaguely familiar: there is certainly something pleasingly grotesque in its words – a bit Roald Dahl – that brought Beachcombing back to his early 20s when Beach drank too […]

    When Muhammad Kissed Ferdinand January 9, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    When Muhammad Kissed Ferdinand

    What do Beachcombing and Osama Bin Laden have in common? Diabetes? Permanent facial hair? Exclusive education in London? Start up fund from the CIA? No, no, no, no and no. The answer is, of course, a love of Al-Andalus. Al Andalus, as Osama himself would tell us were he a blogger, was the last Muslim kingdom […]

    Review: Nuns Behaving Badly January 8, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Review: Nuns Behaving Badly

      Crag Monson, Nuns Behaving Badly: Tales of Music, Magic, Art and Arson in the Convents of Italy (University of Chicago 2010) Mrs B. bade farewell, a decade ago, to a Catholic friend who had decided to pass into a nunnery in the Swiss Alps. Giulia, then in her twenties, said goodbye to family and […]

    Plato’s Atlantis after Plato January 7, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    Plato's Atlantis after Plato

        Was or wasn’t Atlantis a creation of Plato (obit 347/348 BC)? In antiquity as today – see Beachcombing’s previous ravings – there were competing views with the majority including Poseidonius and Aristotle (or pseudo-Aristotle?) believing it a myth. Aristotle as a student of Plato has particular authority and his opinion reported in Strabo unnerves […]

    Epiphany Gift: War In Dollyland January 6, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Epiphany Gift: War In Dollyland

    As Beachcombing noted yesterday (click here, if you dare, for Beachcombian reflections) he has prepared a gift for the WWW this snowy epiphany: War in Dollyland in all its glory. Textual notes: the following was copied from the 1915 original with some care leaving eccentric or antiquated spellings in place. The only change that Beachcombing has made is […]

    Prelude to Epiphany: Fitzgerald in the Trenches January 5, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Prelude to Epiphany: Fitzgerald in the Trenches

    For Beachcombing a canonical text on the First World War is chapter thirteen of Fitzgerald’s Tender is the Night. Here FSF gets as close as anyone ever has to explaining why European civilisation committed suicide in 1915 and 1916. Dick and his party, including the vapid Rosemary have come to visit the First World War […]

    Mary Anning and the Fire from Heaven January 4, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Mary Anning and the Fire from Heaven

    Beachcombing is in disgrace tonight for accidentally sitting on ten-day-old Tiny Miss B – she was wrapped in a duvet on a sofa and Beachcombing homes in on comfort wherever it is to be found. Beachcombing will expiate his guilt by writing about Mary Anning (obit 1847), the fossil hunter and an extraordinary fire-from-the-heavens episode […]

    Image: Executing Christ January 3, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Image: Executing Christ

                              The Spanish Civil War… the junction of the twentieth century. Often sold as the beginning of the Second World War it was, in reality, the last blast of an older nineteenth-century battle, the battle between left and right. Once Barcelona had fallen […]

    Fairy Death in Ilkley January 2, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Fairy Death in Ilkley

    There is a melancholy time in rural communities when belief in fairies dies – a moment in a village life comparable to the moment in a child’s life when he sees his grandfather’s face behind the Santa beard. Wentz examined this fairy death in Ireland and Scotland and Wales in The Fairy Faith in Celtic […]

    Beachcombed 7 January 1, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Beachcombed
    Beachcombed 7

    Dear All, 1 Jan 2011 Beachcombing wants to take this opportunity to thank all his readers, regular and irregular, for their visits in the last seven months and the many good wishes he has received for the arrival of Tiny Miss B. Here is a round-up of some of the most interesting emails that arrived in the last […]

    New Year and Minnie Louise Haskins December 31, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    New Year and Minnie Louise Haskins

      Beachcombing is about to settle down to frying some aubergines (as you do). He thought though that before this he would offer by way of New Year greetings to all his readers the sentence that ends this piece in bold. Banal and even objectionable in their way these words by Minnie Louise Haskins were sanctified […]

    First Greek Encounter with a Parrot December 30, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    First Greek Encounter with a Parrot

      In the ancient Mediterranean parrots were an exotic bird. They were rare, they were multicoloured and they could even repeat human words more convincingly than the native mimics: starlings, magpies and nightingales. Understandably, then, when they appeared, they were attention-grabbers. Indeed, in some periods of antiquity Beachcombing can barely read a source without tripping […]

    Martin Luther and the Fire from Heaven December 29, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Martin Luther and the Fire from Heaven

      Beachcombing has looked before at hinge moments – moments where a simple incident changes history; moments which, had they not happened, would have resulted in a quite different world. Beachcombing thought that, in this spirit, he would today visit Mansfeld, Germany 2 July, 1502 where a young student, Martin Luther, is out walking. Luther’s great fortune […]

    Tenth-Century Arabs in Mozambique December 28, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    Tenth-Century Arabs in Mozambique

              The extraordinary reach of Islamic traders in the Middle Ages is well known. With their heartlands at the juncture of Euro-Asia and Africa – rather than stuckout on a periphery like Christian Europe – they managed to send their boats to every point of the compass. So medieval Arab traders […]

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