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  • Professional Pipe Smoking September 4, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Professional Pipe Smoking

    The strange sports series continues. So far we have enjoyed naked running, clowns playing cricket, homicidal basketball and, of course, purring. This time we are in a weird little corner of the South Pennines in northern England. In this particularly nineteenth-century village the highlight of Wakes week – working man’s summer holiday – was the […]

    Imaginary Kingdoms September 3, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite, Contemporary, Modern
    Imaginary Kingdoms

    Beach has often featured forgotten kingdoms on this blog. But what about imaginary kingdoms? There seem, in the lives of some children, to be a moment when the young create a magical world for themselves that takes on a permanent form: perhaps a more (or less?) elaborate version of the invisible friend? These are often […]

    Unripe Bananas and Almost Meeting Charles Dickens: The Index Biography September 2, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite, Contemporary
    Unripe Bananas and Almost Meeting Charles Dickens: The Index Biography

    So you want to know about a famous man or woman; you need a potted biography. You don’t have access to the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (or other national equivalents). Wikipedia is often a bit long and can be inaccurate. The Encyclopedia Britannica is worse. And you threw away your reference volumes because you […]

    Beachcombed 39 September 1, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Beachcombed
    Beachcombed 39

    Dear Reader, a long argument just finished with elder daughter about why she can’t buy ‘a short pointy thing’ for a three year old boy; almost as good as the argument about why we can’t keep a wolf as a pet (yesterday and the day before). In any case, onto more important things. August was […]

    Hydropathy: Roby Comes Through August 31, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Hydropathy: Roby Comes Through

    Hydropathy was one of Victorian England’s most interesting errors, the belief that by ‘taking the waters’ various serious conditions could be cured. Stuff and nonsense? Well, according to modern medical science, yes: and Darwin in the nineteenth century himself experimented with hydropathy (for his mysterious health condition) concluding that any success was really just a […]

    Fear and Black Dogs August 30, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite, Contemporary, Modern
    Fear and Black Dogs

    Black dogs – and we’ve covered a few posts on this subject with fairy dogs and the black dog of Bungay: why are they so frightening? Ian McEwan’s best novel is probably Black Dogs in which idealism destroys evil catches the terror of big black canines perfectly. But Beach was terrified too in his recent […]

    Totalitarian Bizarreness August 29, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite, Contemporary
    Totalitarian Bizarreness

    Beach isn’t a big fan of totalitarian regimes, but in the defence of those sorry little (and occasionally big) regimes they do make for bizarre news stories. For example, the rumour is just coming in, via South Korea, that the Great Leader in the north has wiped out much of NK’s pop singing community. Among […]

    Okinawa and Three Dead Marines August 28, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Okinawa and Three Dead Marines

    , ***Dedicated to Christopher, who signaled this story*** An episode of memory and death in a closed community, this time over a mere 55 years, but that is interesting simply as a point of comparison with the death of three of Cromwell’s soldiers in Scotland and a 200 year-old memory span there. In 1998 the […]

    Pre-Viking Vikings in the Faroes? August 27, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Medieval
    Pre-Viking Vikings in the Faroes?

    F ***Special thanks to PGR, Chris and Wade for signaling this*** Beach has never hidden his dislike for the Vikings and so was particularly happy to hear that Faroe, those lonely islands, between Shetland and Iceland are having their history rewritten (or rather their archaeology because history was in short supply back then). Orthodox history […]

    Victorian Lesbian Cobblers August 26, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Victorian Lesbian Cobblers

    A week in which this blogger has had a thrilling time reading works on the history of lesbianism: some surprisingly good books out there. Anyway, one of the most fascinating facts about sexuality in western Europe and later European colonies is that way that there was one standard for male homosexuality and quite another for […]

    Strange Fairy Encounter, Co Limerick 1939 August 25, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Strange Fairy Encounter, Co Limerick 1939

    This story comes from an Australian newspaper though it relates to distant Ireland, September 1938. The nature of newspaper digitization is that the nineteenth century is now far better covered than the twentieth century and so all too often getting the right source can prove a problem. Anyway what was going on in Ireland as […]

    Ardeatine and Truth August 24, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Ardeatine and Truth

    In the now long-ago examination of the Ivanhorod picture Beach came across a number of sites with, let’s say, disreputable agendas. One of these led to the website of one Germar Rudolf, who must be the only German since the Second World War to have sought asylum in the United States. GR was prosecuted in Germany over […]

    Knock on Wood/Head August 23, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite, Contemporary, Modern
    Knock on Wood/Head

    Victorian and, to a lesser extent, Edwardian writers loved explaining superstitions with bold comparative examples, sweeping generalizations and daring exegeses. However, more recent scholars have been less sure of our ability to unpick  the origin of our taboos. Take this brief passage on superstition from Keith Thomas in his Decline (747-748): The virtue attributed to […]

    The Amphibiotic Ablutionists August 22, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The Amphibiotic Ablutionists

    *** Sorry late, Beach family reunited today*** Diving in the freezing water is now a fairly common guarantee of guts and eccentricity. But in early nineteenth-century England it was the height of weirdness. Beach stumbled on these healthy souls while searching for more information about hydropathy.  Beach is going to put up a five dollar […]

    Fairy Knick Knacks: The Five Strangest August 21, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite
    Fairy Knick Knacks: The Five Strangest

    Beach has had a couple of trippy days looking for unusual fairy gifts for a close friend. In doing so he began to understand what a truly strange yet enchanting world modern fairy enthusiasts inhabit. Here are Beach’s top five favourite fairy gifts for the Celtic Faery Shaman who has everything. Enjoy. In fifth place […]

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