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  • Burning Reputations in Science July 16, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Burning Reputations in Science

    Imagine for a second with Beachcombing that you are world famous scientist. You don’t have a Nobel Prize yet, but a telephone call from Stockholm is a distinct possibility, particularly if you don’t say anything unwise about the developing world or human rights. In the meantime, you have fawning doctoral students, colleagues sending you sixty […]

    Pixy Music on Dartmoor July 15, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Pixy Music on Dartmoor

      This is a fascinating story from Dartmoor in 1921. A director of orchestra has decided to walk out from a musical boot camp and try his hand at composing in the middle of the heather. It is there that he has a very strange experience: this  one is dedicated to all lovers of auditory […]

    The Buckle That Came In From The Cold July 14, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    The Buckle That Came In From The Cold

    ***Dedicated to Mike Z who sent this one in*** Beach has made it his business to put up here records of objects from the past that end up hundreds or better still thousands of miles away from where they should have been found. Recent examples have included Roman glass beads in, ahem, Japan and Roma […]

    Don’t Get Mad, Get William: The Authorship Question July 13, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite, Modern
    Don't Get Mad, Get William: The Authorship Question

    Beachcombing has written over 750 posts in the last couple of years with 2786 emails received in that time: two a week at the beginning, about twenty a day now…. And he’s glad to say that only 4 of these emails have been rude, though lots of others have included polite raps over much bruised […]

    Quentin Craufurd and Telepathy Among Birds July 12, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Quentin Craufurd and Telepathy Among Birds

    ***Dedicated to Splendid Chap*** We’ve met Quentin Craufurd on several occasions. He was a leading light of the FIS, perhaps the leading light. He also wrote extensively on clairvoyance. Beach is working up a bibliography of his work and has already got to eight including life boat shanties (!) and dawn in India. No greater […]

    The Greatest Curse: Epitaphs for Dead Children July 11, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    The Greatest Curse: Epitaphs for Dead Children

    A very delicate subject this, but one that Beach couldn’t get out of his head having spoken last night to a woman who had lost her only daughter while in her 50s. If the nightmare of all nightmares should happen and a child die what might be written on the gravestone? A 1930s letter page […]

    Mad Cures: Sore Throats and Currents July 10, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Mad Cures: Sore Throats and Currents

    C. 1900 you have a nasty sore throat that won’t go away. A friend tells you that there is a new treatment in town for only three dollars, five if you stay at home and the practitioner comes to your house with ‘the machine’. And what exactly does this  ‘new’ treatment entail, you ask innocently? […]

    Bomber Command and War Guilt July 9, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Bomber Command and War Guilt

    One of the most terrifying statistics of the Second World War is that more died in planes flying out of British airfields than in British cities. Leaving the US out of this around 60,000 British and Dominion aircrew were killed defending British airspace or attacking enemy territory. About 40,000 British civilians, meanwhile, died in the […]

    Weird Nineteenth-Century Names July 8, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Weird Nineteenth-Century Names

    Beach has long been fascinated by the use and misuse of names. Here are some beautiful nineteenth-century English cases of eccentric onomastics. In this town [East Dereham, Norfolk] there is an innkeeper who rejoices in  the baptismal name of ‘Mahershalalhashbaz’ (see Isaiah  viii. 1). I should think this is unique. He is commonly  called  ‘Maher’, […]

    The Triumph of the Dilettantes: Top Ten Fairy Books July 7, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    The Triumph of the Dilettantes: Top Ten Fairy Books

    Beach has spent this summer putting together a bibliography of fairy texts. And while doing so he found himself wondering ‘what are the best of these hundreds of titles?’ The question has, in fact, been building up in him and after some reflection he has jotted down here ten books that offer the most entertaining […]

    St Columba: A Medieval Clairvoyant? July 6, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    St Columba: A Medieval Clairvoyant?

    ***Dedicated to Paula de Fougerolles whose new book on Columba is the best historical novel on the Dark Ages since T. H. White laid down his pen*** St Columba of Iona (obit 597) is perhaps the most interesting of all the medieval Gaelic saints: and given the  strange holy fauna running around the Irish jungle […]

    Archangel Steals Money in Naples! July 5, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Archangel Steals Money in Naples!

    Beachcombing has recently been getting into the world of nineteenth-century seances and mediums. You know, those men with walrus moustaches (for hiding mono-tone mouth accordions) and a hot line to the ‘other side’. These shysters could make even the fairies seem humdrum. Here is one of Beach’s favourite accounts that has everything: sex, money, a […]

    Crowds #3: Crowds as Art July 4, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Crowds #3: Crowds as Art

    ***Dedicated to Andy the Mad Monk*** Beach has previously confessed to a thing about crowd photographs: he has put up posts showing August 1914 madness and orators in front of thousands. However, what if the crowd itself is taken out of its random passions and ordered into a work of art? This was the intuition […]

    Things that Go Baring-Gould in the Night July 3, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Things that Go Baring-Gould in the Night

    Beach has been having a LOT of fun recently reading the autobiography of Sabine Baring-Gould, an eccentric and very capable Victorian/Edwardian clergyman who was once described on this blog in the company of a werewolf. Here, instead, is SBG’s collection of material relating to the Old Madam who haunted his family mansion, Lew Trenchard Manor […]

    Creative Pretexts for War July 2, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Prehistoric
    Creative Pretexts for War

    In the good old days when we had spears and lived in tribal societies war was, for much of humanity, a seasonal activity like boar hunting and berry picking. You did not have to explain why you wanted to steal the cattle of the clan on the other side of the hill: you just got […]

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