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  • The Sphinx: Bushed, Plumed and Painted January 8, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    The Sphinx: Bushed, Plumed and Painted

    The Sphinx needs no introduction. The vast majority of educated people would be able to close their eyes and visualise his face almost perfectly, not least because of his use as an icon for antiquity and for Egypt and even for mysticism. But when we imagine the Sphinx in  our mind’s eye we, of course, […]

    Miraculous Survival with Parachute January 7, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Miraculous Survival with Parachute

    ***in his long tradition of blogging incompetence Beach accidentally put up two posts yesterday including, briefly, an incomplete post on folklore and the Nessie legend. That will come in the next month! Apologies!*** A late supplement to the post on those who survived jumps from planes without a parachute. This is the most remarkable instance […]

    Epiphany Gift #4: The John O’London Fairy Letters! January 6, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Epiphany Gift #4: The John O'London Fairy Letters!

    Welcome to the fourth annual Beachcombing epiphany gift: first there was War in Dollyland; then there was Scary Fairies; then there was New Frontiers and now, in cooperation with the Fairyist we offer the John O’London Fairy letters, an early twentieth-century cache of fairy encounters from a period when these things were not much written […]

    Spirit Photo Fakes: Katie King January 5, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Spirit Photo Fakes: Katie King

    The Count (a regular contributor here) is to blame. Beach had hoped to spend just a couple of thousand nano-seconds on spirit photography, but it is so extraordinarily interesting. Last time we looked at some late nineteenth-century photographs where ghostly  loved ones were portrayed with their families in the most transparent fakes.  But what about […]

    A French Bombing Operation in London, 1984! January 4, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    A French Bombing Operation in London, 1984!

    This is the time of year that UK government records are released, slipping out of the thirty years for which state papers are routinely kept away from the public gaze: freedom of information has changed this situation, but not dramatically. The result is that every year on New Year’s Day British researchers and conspiracy theorists […]

    Chinese Dragons Head West January 3, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    Chinese Dragons Head West

    Dragons have long been part of the mythic corpus of Europe, Asia and Africa and, if you include the various Amerindian Giant Serpents, the Americas as well. However, different cultures celebrated or reviled dragons in different ways and a dragon from Sweden with a breath that reaked of ragnarok and a wingless dragon from China […]

    German Invasion Force in London, 1909! January 2, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    German Invasion Force in London, 1909!

    All the European nations suffered bouts of craziness leading up to the First World War: one of the reasons that so many men in jackets started throwing straw hats at each other in August 1914… However, in many ways the most endearing and incredible was the conviction in Britain that Germany was planning an invasion […]

    Beachcombed 43 January 1, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Beachcombed
    Beachcombed 43

    Dear Reader, A very happy new year to you and all yours. A pretty difficult 2013 is coming to an end here and there is the hope that the Beachcombing family will have washed their hands of all their legal and financial problems by the end of January. Included below is a slightly revamped Beachcombed […]

    More, Good Digestion and a Prayer December 31, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Medieval
    More, Good Digestion and a Prayer

    Beach, in the tradition of rather straitened New Years Day posts wishes his readers the best of 2014 with this little prayer that was sent in by a friend. As always replace ‘Lord’ with ‘Allah’, ‘First Contact’, ‘the Universe’, ‘Historical Materialism’ till your tastes are satisified… Give me a good digestion, Lord, And also something […]

    Review: Party in the Blitz December 30, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Review: Party in the Blitz

    Elias Canetti was a Bulgarian-Swiss-British writer, who wrote autobiography, a particularly twisted form of central European sociology and who penned one important modernist novel, translated into English as Auto-da-fé. He won a Nobel Prize in 1981, which is, of course, no guarantee of quality: Dario Fo and the EU did, Borges and Calvino didn’t. But […]

    A Scottish Earthquake Remembered? December 29, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    A Scottish Earthquake Remembered?

    David Murray Rose was a late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century historian and, a far nicer word, an antiquarian. This comes from a letter he wrote in 1930 to the Inverness Courier and relates to an obsession of this blog: the degree to which information can be transmitted orally through time. First, the legend. Many years […]

    A Newland to the West of Iceland 1285? December 28, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    A Newland to the West of Iceland 1285?

    Those stray British, Scandinavian and Dutch references to exploration in the medieval northern Atlantic have frequently been set out on this blog: remember the inventio fortunatatae, or the incest island, brave bishop Erik or, for that matter, Vinland the Good?  Occasionally there is a hint that adventurers or, more typically, storm-driven sailors had stumbled into […]

    English Vampire in Spain December 27, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    English Vampire in Spain

    This article comes from the later 1860s and describes the misfortunes of an Englishman who the locals decided was a Vampire. You have to cross the straits of Gibraltar and probably the Sahara to get this kind of incident today: memories of that fine Luise White book Speaking with Vampires. Lorcea is Lorca in Murcia. […]

    The Inevitability of the First World War December 26, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    The Inevitability of the First World War

    And so it begins… 2 August 1914 German troops begin to pour into Belgium and Luxembourg. French troops prepare their border defences. Serbian irregulars are marching towards battle. Austria-Hungary is preparing itself for the inevitable Russian attack. Britain is wringing its hands and calling up its naval reserves. The most horrific war in human experience […]

    The Most Dysfunctional Family in History: the Ptolemies December 25, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    The Most Dysfunctional Family in History: the Ptolemies

    The most dysfunctional family in history? The Tudors in England showed peturbing signs of genius. The line of Augustus in ancient Rome degnenerated into madness and murder. The Neo-Flavians were pretty confused too. The Borgias bless them… But, let there be no ambiguity, no one comes close to the Ptolemies,  the last dynasty of Greek […]

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