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  • Beachcombed 44 February 1, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Beachcombed
    Beachcombed 44

    Dear Reader, welcome to February: God knows January had it coming… Here  in the Beachcombing household everything footles along. We are still fighting the good fight against dishonest architects (one down, two to go), keeping a leash on father in law (who hired the dishonest architects and even went on holiday with them) and planning […]

    The Index Biography #3: Prize = A Good Book January 31, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    The Index Biography #3: Prize = A Good Book

    ***This prize was won by an old and dear friend of this blog Ray G at 8.08 GMT. Well done Ray! The answer is below the post so scroll down with care*** The Index Biography is a new form of biography pioneered by this blog and introduced in a previous post. The creator must find a […]

    How To Be Cool at an Academic Conference January 30, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite
    How To Be Cool at an Academic Conference

    It should be a recipe for joy and for the diffusion of knowledge. Twenty, two hundred or perhaps even two thousand intelligent men and women, with a shared interest, who find themselves closed into a ‘venue’ for two, three or five days with nothing to do except talk shop. Yet how many academic conferences really […]

    The Royal Navy and Dogs of War January 29, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    The Royal Navy and Dogs of War

    Military services are closed societies with their own rules, sensible, silly and bizarre by turn. Few of these military cliques have, however, the traditions to rival the UK’s senior service, the Royal Navy. The Royal Navy, indeed, had everything from the banal (piping officers aboard), to the curious (the different toasts on different nights of […]

    In Search of the Lamia in Ethiopia? January 28, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    In Search of the Lamia in Ethiopia?

    This passage appears in an 1863 book about a Briton’s residence in Abyssinia. The author seems to be in two minds about the monster he is describing. Is it real or is it a figment of the locals’ imagination? In the text he seems to account for it as legend, but note that he had […]

    How To Create A Golden Age: Instructions for Use January 27, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
    How To Create A Golden Age: Instructions for Use

    There are grey moments in history and there are black moments and, then, every so often there are wonderful conflagarations as the very paper that the past is written upon catches fire. Think the sheer brilliant evenescence of Athens in the fifth-century B.C.; Baghdad in the ninth century; or, indeed, Florence in the fourteenth and […]

    The Dragon of Dornoch? January 26, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    The Dragon of Dornoch?

    Dragons… It has been so long. The last dragon story of kinds was the serpent crown in the summer of 2012 and the last proper dragon tale was back in spring of 2012, a seventeenth-century Essex wyrm. Here, instead, is a fascinating but potentially dodgy source for a twelfth- or thirteenth-century dragon: a letter sent […]

    Water Thief Watcher January 25, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    Water Thief Watcher

    In distant days I opened a tag on WCIH, ‘the worst careers in history’ and, before things fizzled out, I made the case for precolumbian sacrificial victims and the Galeotti. Here today is a new one to reopen the series, the Water Thief Watcher. Now for those without a degree in timekeeping the water thief […]

    The Dragon’s Tail! A Continent or a Ghost? January 24, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
    The Dragon's Tail! A Continent or a Ghost?

    La cola del dragón (the Tail of the Dragon), was a book published in 1990 by Paul Gallez (obit 2007), a Belgian/Argentinean historian. In this book Gallez alleged that a map by Martellus (obit 1496), dating to 1489 showed South America. If you are trying to understand why this should matter read the last sentence again: […]

    A Pregnant Christ?! January 23, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    A Pregnant Christ?!

    This beautiful mosaic is an eleventh-century work in the church of San Miniato in Florence, one of the most extraordinary religious buildings in the world. The mosaic is unusual as, though put together in central Italy, it shows, as does an accompanying mosaic outside the church, clear eastern influences. Are we to think of itinerant […]

    Condoned Torture and Revenge in Eighteenth-Century New Orleans January 22, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Condoned Torture and Revenge in Eighteenth-Century New Orleans

    ***Warning this post has some very unpleasant material: if you are having a bad day, do yourself a favour and just click away…*** ‘The west’, that monolith to which most readers of this blog belong, has gradually over the centuries, shied away from torture. But there are moments in history when societies return on themselves […]

    The Pope and His Tanks January 21, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    The Pope and His Tanks

    If you open a book of memorable quotations you will find bon mots and phrases that have been validated by time. You will also often find controversy as to where these sentences come from and because they belong to a given people or nation or, indeed, all of humanity they are altered and reascribed. Beach […]

    Horror and Scarcity: Reading Supernatural Fiction January 20, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite, Contemporary, Modern
    Horror and Scarcity: Reading Supernatural Fiction

    Yesterday the postman brought three beautiful volumes of Sheridan Le Fanus’ short stories (Ash Tree Press). They are exquisitely made, not so much books as orgasms between covers, and they have exceptionally good introductions by Jim Rockhill. They were also expensive, particularly once you factor postage to another continent and the Italian’s government’s banditry in […]

    Pre-Columbian Trips to America? Ballast! January 19, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
    Pre-Columbian Trips to America? Ballast!

    Imagine the excitement of the archaeologists who had gathered at NA-57 off the Florida coast near Fernandina in 1972. In some offshore piles they had found various bits of ‘rubbish’ from European settlers: ceramics, pipes, glass fragments… Nothing special you might think. But what was unusual was the dating. British settlements began in the area in […]

    14 Agege Motor Road, Idi-Oro, Mushin: the Kalakuta Republic! January 18, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    14 Agege Motor Road, Idi-Oro, Mushin: the Kalakuta Republic!

    The Kalakuta Republic appears as part of our longstanding Forgotten Kingdoms tag. Kalakuta was the brain child of one of the most significant African musicians of the post-war period, Fela Kuti. Kuti, for those who don’t know the name, was a Nigerian with both talent and attitude. He spent formative years outside his home country living in […]

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