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  • Prison Breaks with Planes September 14, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Prison Breaks with Planes

    You are in prison and you have a friend with a plane. How can that plane get you out of prison? Well, at Colditz they built a glider in the castle attic; a glider that perhaps fortunately was never used. Then there are the various helicopter escapes, for which Beachcombing recommends an excellent wikipedia page. […]

    English King Discovered Under Carpark September 13, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    English King Discovered Under Carpark

    ***Dedicated to Roundj*** Beach does his very best not to be topical on this blog. But the news coming from Leicester (UK) yesterday is hard to ignore. At the end of August archaeologists began to dig in a car park there in search of the body of Richard III, the last English king to die […]

    The Strange Siege of Nagy Ida September 12, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The Strange Siege of Nagy Ida

    This is a cute little Weird War story. Beach doesn’t expect it is true as it conforms rather well to several Roma stereotypes. Though knowing humanity’s potential for stupidity… Well, let’s say that anything is possible. In the year 1557, during the troubles in Zapoly, the castle of Nagy Ida, in the county of Abaujvar, […]

    Are Societies What They Eat? September 11, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
    Are Societies What They Eat?

    There is no question that food and drink change us. If you begin to drink two litres of coca-cola a day, instead of a litre of fizzy water or if you start chewing on cocoa leaves instead of making banana smoothies your family will quickly notice a difference. Here there is and can be no […]

    A Fairy Encounter in Nineteenth-Century Madrid September 10, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    A Fairy Encounter in Nineteenth-Century Madrid

    ***And so it begins… first class today: unpleasant warm fuzzy feeling in stomach, awareness that no more proper research for six months*** Beach just stumbled across this curious account of a sighting of little people in Madrid in the 1860s. The witness was a nineteenth-century spiritualist: the account begins with her own curious take on […]

    The Man Who Accidentally Started WW2 Five Days Too Early September 9, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    "El Tercer Reich". Tomo III. La Guerra antes de la Guerra

    The last days of August 1939 were particularly painful for the leaders of the western democracies and their allies. Though most Poles, Britons and French citizens out in the streets did not realise it, the signing of the pact between the Soviet Union and Germany, 23 August, meant that the war had as good as […]

    Armpitting September 8, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    Armpitting

    Armpitting is something that you would not wish on your worse enemy. Well, no actually that is not quite true. It is something that, in antiquity, you reserved specifically for your worst enemy, but only when he was lying on the floor belching blood. The one extensive reference to armpitting comes in the Suda, a […]

    Negosanu and the Countess September 7, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
     Negosanu and the Countess

    The following story relates to events in the late nineteenth century. It is about a place that Beach has visited from time to time; though no one, he is sad to report, has ever asked to feel his muscles there. The hero is a huge gypsy from Romania: Negosanu. Let’s hope that the tale is […]

    Generals, Entrepreneurs or Politicians? September 6, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Generals, Entrepreneurs or Politicians?

    Paul Johnson is a journalist and historian who Beachcombing considers the single most irritating Englishman alive. However, and this is perhaps part of why Beachcombing finds PJ so irritating, he can be extraordinarily perceptive: though anyone with their finger hovering over an amazon buy button should know that this is far from an inevitable outcome. […]

    African Pygmies and European Fairies September 5, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    African Pygmies and European Fairies

    We have sometimes visited in the past the early modern and very popular late Victorian theory that fairies were nothing more than a pygmy people who dwelt on the fringes of society. By the early twentieth century Empire sorts were so keen on this theory that they were proving it with reference to the customs […]

    Stay Alive to 1975! September 4, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Stay Alive to 1975!

    Messianic religions have long faced a simple problem with final calamity. If you predict the end of the world you are going to get lots of new members: that’s humanity. But, God help you when the world’s end does not come. Not, of course, that this has stopped the faithful from trying. Despite said problem […]

    Casualties and Memory September 3, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Casualties and Memory

    This post was written as a response to a memory that has been whirling around and around in the last few days. The only time Beach ever saw his grandmother – a fine old English matron – weep was when she talked about the First World War. She had, in fact, no direct experience of […]

    Children of the Dung Heap September 2, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    Children of the Dung Heap

    There are some strange surnames if you take care to look around. And the present author knows of what he speaks: being called Beachcombing gets you some very curious looks in post-offices and at border crossings… But Beach’s personal favourite from history is the Greco-Egyptian name Kopr- (with many derivatives) meaning, of course, ‘dung’. These […]

    Beachcombed 27 September 1, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Beachcombed
    Beachcombed 27

    Dear Readers, 1 Sept 2012 This last months has been one of intense work and, at least for a couple of days, intense rest. Lots of writing was done and for six gruelling days Beach put footnotes down like breadcrumbs in the forest:  he can still hear the screeching of the ravens in his dreams. […]

    Accidental Hanky Panky in Late Nineteenth-Century Ireland August 31, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
    Accidental Hanky Panky in Late Nineteenth-Century Ireland

    This was a cute little story that turns up in a late nineteenth-century folklore collection from Ireland. A visitor is out and about looking for the ‘bed’ of ‘Dermot and Grania’, the mossy bower where a mythical couple from Irish legend escape to love and live away from society. Dermot for those who have never […]

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