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  • In the Margins September 20, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
    In the Margins

    Marginalia: things scribbled in margins. There is a lot to be said for this form of literature that, to date, has been little studied: there are only a handful of books including Robin Alston’s Books with Manuscript: A Short Title Catalogue of Books with Manuscript Notes in the British Library (1994) and Henry Richards Luard’s […]

    Deviant Burials September 19, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
    Deviant Burials

    The dead are prepared for the after life in almost every way imaginable. In some cases they are eaten, in some cases they are burnt, in some cases they are fed to animals, in some cases they are embalmed and in some cases they are buried in the ground. Beach has not yet come across […]

    Plagiarism, Sock Puppets and Wikipedia September 18, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite
    Plagiarism, Sock Puppets and Wikipedia

    Here follows one of those contemporary japes which may have escaped the attention of Beach’s non-British readers: excuse the lack of history, bizarreness there is though a plenty. The story so far: Johann Hari, gifted English journalist jobbing for the rather boring but worthwhile Independent has been caught taking quotations from other authors and inserting […]

    Men and Women Out of Balance September 17, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Contemporary, Modern
    Men and Women Out of Balance

    A bit of a cookie-dough post today as Beachcombing tries to make sense of something that has being going around and around in his head. Last week, during the infamous hacker attack of Sept 2011, Beach noted the extraordinary gender imbalance in modern China where perhaps – the numbers are much contested – 119 boys […]

    A Dragon in Medieval East Anglia September 16, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    A Dragon in Medieval East Anglia

    Beach had a fabulous evening trying to convince his elder daughter (3) that dragons do exist. This involved placing a small bean bag draco at various inaccessible points of the house and creating a domestic dragon mythology: dragons only eat salted foods; dragons hate men; dragon baby’s mothers steal keys etc etc. The picture above […]

    Strange Historical Personal Names September 15, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
    Strange Historical Personal Names

    Full crisis here. A think tank that Beachcombing sometimes works for needs some urgent help with a text: in a format that no program on his computer can open… And Mrs B has a pressing deadline – more help needed – with a project she has worked up about what good Europeans (ha!) the young […]

    Last Witch Killing? September 14, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Last Witch Killing?

    There is some argument about when the last witchcraft killing took place in Western Europe, but this, for what it is worth, is Beachcombing’s candidate dating from 1861: he fully expects to be proved wrong, drbeachcombing AT yahoo DOT com The name of the victim was Dummy. It is true that he was not killed […]

    Death in the Garden September 13, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    Death in the Garden

    It is a gentle summer evening in York in 1108. Archbishop Gerard nods his head at a couple of monks, smiles beatifically at the veiled wife of a local well-to-do and then passes into the cathedral rose garden. Here, however, his expression changes. He now has the face of a man who knows what he […]

    Bartering Chinese Women: Mao and Kissinger September 12, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Bartering Chinese Women: Mao and Kissinger

    The honour! Strange History is, as we speak, being hacked by a bunch of Chinese ruffians. If the fairies and mermaids disappear under a swelter of fake Tiffany bags you’ll know why. To celebrate this epoch-making event Beachcombing thought that he would bring China centre stage and also throw Kissinger into the mix. It is […]

    Thinking of Flying in the Eighteenth Century September 11, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Thinking of Flying in the Eighteenth Century

    It is always curious to compare the reality of the future with the way that future was viewed in the past. Take speculations over flying. There seems to have come a point in the eighteenth century when the bien pensants realised – perhaps a bit like deep space exploration for the modern world – that […]

    Pietro Montini: A Tribute September 10, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Pietro Montini: A Tribute

    First, sincere apologies for not yet getting the comments up this month. Beach has written about 30,000 words on fairies and is still getting over it. Sunday night is his self-imposed deadline and then he’s going to forget the red-capped ones ever existed and think about making our young into better citizens (ahem). Today though […]

    Did You Hear the One about the Fairy and the Alien? September 9, 2011

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

    Beachcombing has never bothered to write them down, but he has a mental list of irritating academic titles ranging from ‘The Erotics of Medieval Backgammon’ to the ‘Semiotics of Transgression in Aquitanian Saints Lives’ etc etc etc. When he recently then stumbled across ‘Between One Eye Blink and the Next: Fairies, UFOs and Problems of […]

    Vivoo in Naples September 8, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Vivoo in Naples

    Beach has spent a few minutes this evening reading through the Economist’s exposé of modern Italy entitled: Oh for a new Risorgimento, and this got him thinking of his own favourite Risorgimento moment and a first-rank wibt (wish I’d been there) scene. The year is 1848 and mobs around Europe from Tipperary to Prague are […]

    Eighteenth-century Scandinavian Merfolk September 7, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Eighteenth-century Scandinavian Merfolk

    Here are a number of largely overlooked Scandinavian reports of mermaids dating from the first half of the eighteenth century. The account is rather long so these are the witness statements. Historians of cryptozoology might be interested to know that the earlier part of the text includes a reference to mermaids being ‘sea-apes’, an idea […]

    Population Games and Rorschach Tests September 6, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Medieval
    Population Games and Rorschach Tests

    Beachcombing had some fun the other day writing about ancient history and population estimates. Last night reading in the ‘wee hours’ he came across another lovely example of this: the insane modern debate about the population of Roman Britain. Now post-war estimates for the population of Roman Britain  have gone as low as 200,000 and […]

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