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  • The Bizarrest Date in History March 29, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    The Bizarrest Date in History

    Long-term readers of this blog will know that Beachcombing has a thing about futurist food: previous posts have included, indeed, an overview of attempts by the futurists to revolutionize what we eat and, perhaps better, still an unusual meal that ended with a woman being devoured. For those who have not the time or the […]

    Invisible Library in Skyrim March 28, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite
    Invisible Library in Skyrim

    ***dedicated to Larry K*** Beach’s nightmare week continues and the search for the aupair proceeds a pace.  In an attempt then to relax in these brutish hours as the Beachcombings try and put their lives back together Beach thought that he would offer up another invisible library: libraries that have only ever existed in the […]

    Britain’s Obsession with the Second World War March 27, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite, Contemporary
    Britain's Obsession with the Second World War

    Anyone who knows Britain will be aware of the constant references to the Second World War in the island’s political culture, particularly when  national sovereignty is at stake. Harold Wilson decried appeals to ‘the Dunkirk Spirit’: and then shamelessly used the same trick himself. And the recent spats over Britain’s use of its ‘veto’ within […]

    What are the White Women Ghosts? March 26, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    What are the White Women Ghosts?

    Beachcombing has before in this place quoted with approval that remarkable book Owen Davies’ The Haunted: A Social History of Ghosts. One of the phenomena that OD’s deals with quickly but intriguingly are the mysterious white spirits of women found up and down the British countryside. What are they? Simple ghosts – they are often […]

    Dark Age Scotland Without Oxygen? March 25, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Medieval
    Dark Age Scotland Without Oxygen?

    First of all huge apologies for lack of coverage in these days: the Beachcombing household really is in a it-doesn’t-rain-it-pours month. In less than 48 hours their beloved aupair disappears and despite honourable and numerous dishonourable efforts to sort this out they have been left uncovered. The first time someone falls ill there is going […]

    A Dutch Mermaid March 24, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
    A Dutch Mermaid

    Beachcombing recently stumbled on this semi-mermaid story: if that is what it is. At that time there was a great tempest at sea, with exceeding high tides, the which did drowne many villages in Friseland and Holland; by which tempest there came a seawoman swimming in the Zuyderzee betwixt the towns of Campen and Edam, […]

    Perrottet: Sinners’ Grand Tour March 23, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Medieval, Modern
    Perrottet: Sinners' Grand Tour

    Tony Perrottet, The Sinner’s Grand Tour: Journey Through the Historical Underbelly of Europe (2011 in paperback) Broadly-speaking all humans have three reactions to forms of sexual activity: (i) frenzy, (ii) comic indifference or (iii) disgust. Beachcombing, for example, has to (i) contain himself when confronted with sultry Mediterranean beauty. He finds it (ii) amusing that […]

    Escaped Lions March 22, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
    Escaped Lions

    ***Dedicated to Andy the Mad Monk*** Lions are striking animals and it is only natural that, through the ages, zoos and circuses have kept them to impress their clientele. They are also hardy creatures that makes them easier to keep alive than, say, the giraffe or a rhino. But they are dangerous and if they […]

    Crowds #1: And so it begins… Images from 1914 March 21, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Crowds #1: And so it begins... Images from 1914

      [students in Berlin, off to enlist] Beachcombing has recently become interested in crowd photography: large groups of people, preferably in rather strange or extreme situations. And as part of this ‘project’ he started collecting photographs from perhaps the dizziest month in western history: August 1914. The war is just beginning and young and not […]

    Amerindians in Sardinia!?! March 20, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Modern
    Amerindians in Sardinia!?!

    When Beachcombing was a strapping young lad he opened a fuchsia file of claims for pre-Columbian crossings of the Atlantic. The problem was that after two or three years and entries for every people from Basques and Gaels to Zulus he got a tadge bored: most theories lacked anything like sensible proof, then (more seriously) […]

    Hibernating Hirundines March 19, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Hibernating Hirundines

    Beach gave some publicity, a couple of years ago, to the question of swallows and other hirundines sleeping in the winter rather than migrating. It is all a lot of burnt toffee, of course, but entertaining and it represents a last stand of the ‘old’ country against the ‘new’ science: men in pitchfork marching up […]

    Stalin Suffering the Children March 18, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Stalin Suffering the Children

    This image of Uncle Joe with a young girl understandably became famous. It shows the softer side of one of the most prolific murderers of all time: something useful in a society that was based on a cult of said murderer. And interestingly this is not just a chance photographic moment: the kind that make […]

    St Patrick and Confusion March 17, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Medieval
    St Patrick and Confusion

    Beach has always been fascinated by questions of uncertainty in history, in part because these teach modesty, in part because they are a useful way to annoy colleagues. And, in tribute to question marks past, he thought that he would celebrate St Patrick’s day – finally a correct date for an anniversary! – by concentrating […]

    Fairies and Vegetation March 16, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Fairies and Vegetation

    Yes, sorry, Beach has not respected his only one-fairy-post a week rule. But this just proved too interesting to let go AND it was keeping him awake while Mrs B was gently snoring besides him. First the facts. In many modern works fairies are portrayed as ‘nature spirits’ actively working for trees, flowers, gorse bushes […]

    Churchill, De Gaulle and Waterloo March 15, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Churchill, De Gaulle and Waterloo

    Today a bit of modern British history/myth. Beach will write it out as it was told to him. He would be interested to see whether there is any basis to the tale: it sounds very Churchillian, but it also has the exquisite stench of cobblers. Towards the end of his life Churchill was visited by […]

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