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  • Dreaming Murder in Parliament #9: Mr Fox Speaks (or Lies)! November 5, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Dreaming Murder in Parliament #9: Mr Fox Speaks (or Lies)!

    ***Many interesting comments on the Perceval case, particularly from Bob S who has done far better at digging out rare sources than Beach. Here is one that passed Strange History by completely but that Bob happily picked up*** Here is yet another source for the Williams dream from The autobiography of Sir John Rennie  by […]

    Dumb Duels #1: Finn vs O’Hara November 4, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Dumb Duels #1: Finn vs O'Hara

    Duelling? What an absolutely charming idea. Two men and occasionally two women resolve problems with recourse to combat. But doesn’t this make for rather boring history? After all, the two meet, the two shoot/cut and one apologies or dies. There just isn’t that much potential for things to go bizarrely wrong? Well, apart from that […]

    The Death of the Roman Republic November 3, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    The Death of the Roman Republic

    There is nothing in history to equal the death of the Roman Republic. On the one hand, a bunch of power-hungry opportunists including Caesar, Pompey, Augustus, Mark Anthony and Crassus. Then, on the other, the last defenders of Republican liberty: Cato, Cicero, Brutus and their many ‘sometime’ supporters in the Senatorial Class. The power-hungry opportunists […]

    River Mermaids in Southern Spain November 1, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    River Mermaids in Southern Spain

    ***Thanks to Invisible for this tip*** Norman Lewis’s The Tomb in Seville had, to say the very least, a bit of an unusual publication history. It is a back-looking account of a trip in southern Spain in 1934, taken with a mafioso, written decades later, while NL was in his ninetieth year and brought out […]

    Beachcombed 41 November 1, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Beachcombed
    Beachcombed 41

    Dear Reader, Crisis continues here as Beach’s father-in-law’s building problems have spiralled out of control: f-i-l classic example of a very intelligent person completely lacking in wisdom; fifty years of sociology haven’t helped either. Interesting new experiences have included getting a nonsensical bill for 50,000 euros; being shouted at out over the phone; opening hysterical […]

    The Index Biography #1: Prize = The Ghost Wore Black October 31, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite, Contemporary
    The Index Biography #1: Prize = The Ghost Wore Black

    ***It took just three hours for Hapax to write in with the correct solution and there is no second prize, for the answer see tomorrow’s Beachcombed** The Index Biography is a new form of biography pioneered by this blog and introduced in a previous post. The writer must find a biography of a famous individual […]

    Review: The Ghost Wore Black October 30, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Review: The Ghost Wore Black

    The Ghost Wore Black: Ghastly Tales from the Past is the latest in Ghosts of the Past series by Chris Woodyard. Anyone familiar with CW’s style will know by now what to expect. There are half a dozen thematic chapters, which takes us from devils, to wild men, to spring-heeled jack wannabees: ‘ghosts’ has to […]

    A Russian Prince in Seventeenth-Century Rural England? October 29, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    A Russian Prince in Seventeenth-Century Rural England?

    Woolley is a rural parish in what was once Huntingdonshire and what is now Cambridgeshire. Its has provided one very worthwhile episode for the annals of bizarre history and that concerns its seventeenth-century rector Mikipher Alphery. Poor old Alphery was kicked out in 1643 during the Civil War when Cromwell and his devils were getting […]

    Jokes From World War 2 October 28, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Jokes From World War 2

    Unlike our previous post on jokes about the World Wars here are a series of jokes from world war two. Beach can’t guarantee that every single one came from the the period between Sept 1939 and the summer of 1945, but they have a contemporary feel. Here are his favourites. Note a factory worker, Marianne […]

    Dreaming Murder in Parliament #8: Abercrombie and a Friend from Madras Speak! October 27, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Dreaming Murder in Parliament #8: Abercrombie and a Friend from Madras Speak!

    Beach began thinking that there was just one account of Williams dream, his own (1832). He then learnt there was a second earlier account (dating to 1828), which shows signs of not being written by the author. However, since then – in great part thanks to Wade and Bob – he has realized that there […]

    Were-Storks and the Origins of Storks’ Baby Carrying! October 26, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    Were-Storks and the Origins of Storks' Baby Carrying!

    There is the well established legends of the storks flying, in antiquity down below the Sahara to battle the pygmies. But what about this unusual medieval legend that appears in a fourteenth-century work in two parts. First our author is describing the well-established error, one that survived into the nineteenth century, that certain birds hibernate […]

    The Law and Cauls October 25, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Medieval, Modern
    The Law and Cauls

    Long-time readers of the blog may remember several posts on cauls (the membrane that sometimes sticks to a child as he or she exits the womb). ‘Hooded’ children or caulbearers are often said to have psychic gifts. But there is also a tradition of excellence in law: the reason for the connection between these two […]

    Tolkien, a Poppy and the Death of Traditional Fairies October 24, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Tolkien, a Poppy and the Death of Traditional Fairies

    Tolkien has rarely featured in these pages, but given Beach’s interest in fairies, it was only a matter of time before the Oxford don had a post dedicated to him. Very likely in 1913 or 1914 – the dating depends on the evidence from a fabulous article by John Garth – Tolkein had an unusual […]

    Dreaming Murder in Parliament 7#: Perceval Speaks! October 23, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Dreaming Murder in Parliament 7#: Perceval Speaks!

    ***For all previous posts on the Perceval Dream follow this link*** In one of the many modern books that describe the Williams’ dream this strange addition to the legend is included. Get ready for a laugh. A week later, Spencer Perceval himself had a very disturbing dream. After he shared with his family the nightmare […]

    Hot Mermaids from Renaissance Venice! October 22, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
    Hot Mermaids from Renaissance Venice!

    Beach is feeling very shallow today and so he thought that he would celebrate a wonderful new book that arrived through the post: Alison Luchs, The Mermaids of Venice (Brepols 2010). Why shallow? Well, he can’t celebrate the scholarship of the good Prof Luchs because he hasn’t read any of her words yet (another post, […]

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