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  • E Publishing Opportunism October 29, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite
    E Publishing Opportunism

    Beach has noted before in this place the extraordinary world of digital books which has opened up in the last few years. He has argued fiercely (though it is certainly a lost battle) that Google are villains and that www.archive.org should be showered with Nobel peace prizes and chocolate Easter eggs. However, only recently a […]

    A Look Up Caterina Sforza’s Skirt October 28, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    A Look Up Caterina Sforza's Skirt

    Caterina Sforza was one of those extraordinary individuals who managed to pack five or six lifetimes into her forty odd years. Wife, alchemist, mother, warrior, seductress, torturer, hunter, general, rape victim and, don’t forget, the model for one of the three graces in Botticelli’s Primavera: she also had a lot of hot Milanese blood swilling […]

    Doublets in Ancient and Medieval History October 27, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Medieval

    Beach had an emotional day today rummaging through screeds of old crap in cardboard boxes. In one of these he found a strange rectangular object that our ancestors called a ‘floppy disc’. And, after much trial and error, he also found a computer that was primitive enough to read it, while, it is true, grumbling […]

    Eggs, Mermaids and Fairies October 26, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Eggs, Mermaids and Fairies

      Like, to use an Old Testament image, a dog returning to its vomit, Beach is sidling back to a problem from several months ago. The following reference appears in Waldron’s Description of the Isle of Man and what confuses Beachcombing is the final reference to eggs Some people who lived near the coast, having […]

    A Seventeenth-Century Icarus October 25, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    A Seventeenth-Century Icarus

    Another episode in early failed or imaginary flying exploits. The following extracts are from the letters of Marin Mersenne (obit 1648) and were translated (frustratingly Beach doesn’t have the originals to hand) by Hart [132-133]. Enjoy these rumours from Paris from around the middle of the seventeenth century. Here they are talking about a man […]

    Cocaine, Nicotine and Ancient Egypt October 24, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    Cocaine, Nicotine and Ancient Egypt

    As regular readers of this column will attest Beachcombing is your typical small-minded historian. He doesn’t much like novelty and if there is a controversy he will float effortlessly into the orthodox camp. But with the argument over cocaine use in the ancient world he risks, however briefly, going the other way: if only to […]

    More Caithness Mermaids October 23, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern

    Mermaid posts. It has been a while… This one should be read together with another nineteenth-century Caithness sighting. It cannot be a coincidence that two letters were sent at the same time relating to the same village. Presumably the publicity given to Miss Mackay in late May for her sighting, encouraged or emboldened William Munro, […]

    Berlin, 30 April 1945 October 22, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Berlin, 30 April 1945

    Beachcombing had two formative experiences over the last week. One was discovering that peanut, banana and honey sandwiches can be substantially improved through the use of raw ginger. The other was watching Die Untergang (Downfall) the 2004 film describing the final days of Hitler in April 1945. On balance, Beach prefers the liberal use of […]

    Escapes, Wives and Cases October 21, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Escapes, Wives and Cases

    A reflection on escapees. Beachcombing  was brought up in the shadow of the Second World War where escape stories were  nutrition for a growing boy. Then he made the mistake of reading the Count of Monte Cristo at an impressionable age. Are there any more exciting pages in fiction than Edmond’s fake funeral? Beach can […]

    Eleven Eighteenth- and Nineteenth-Century Strange Deaths October 20, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Eleven Eighteenth- and Nineteenth-Century Strange Deaths

    A slow day in Beachcombing’s world. Exams, exams, exams… In any case, onto the post. The following extracts – yet more death, sorry – come from a rare eighteenth and nineteenth century sub-category of low journalism: the weird death. The closest in today’s world is to be found in Fortean Times’ very enjoyable Strange Deaths […]

    Immortal Meals 6#: Arguments at Tehran October 19, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Immortal Meals 6#: Arguments at Tehran

    WIBT (Wish I’d been there)  moments from the Big Three Conference at Tehran in 1943 are so numerous that a casual reader would be spoilt for choice: Marshal Voroshilov dropping the Sword of Stalingrad at the worst possible moment in the ceremonials; German intelligence’s attempts to kill Churchill, Roosevelt and Stalin; agreement on the United […]

    Incitatus: Caligula’s Horse October 18, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    Incitatus: Caligula's Horse

    The mad and bad Gaius Caligula (37-41 AD), third emperor of Rome had a reputation for cruel insanity and was responsible for the death of his grandmother, his father and several thousand Romans. But no one could say that he didn’t treat his horses well. The most celebrated, Incitatus, was given a retinue of eighteen […]

    From the Mahogany Ship to Mons Badonicus: An Archaeological Fantasia October 17, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
    From the Mahogany Ship to Mons Badonicus: An Archaeological Fantasia

    Inspired by thoughts of Nag Hammadi, Howard Carter and Leslie Alcock at Cadbury Beachcombing spent an  evening wondering about archaeological fantasias, discoveries that he hopes will be made before he  himself becomes an archaeological subject and is put into the ground. Boudica’s grave. Boudica was, of course, the queen of the Iceni who gave Nero […]

    Swedish Husbands and Yemeni Wives October 16, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite
    Swedish Husbands and Yemeni Wives

    A bit of non-history fluff today that has been going around and around in Beachcombing’s head: the strange compatibilities and incompatibilities of married couples from different cultures. When British Beachcombing himself happily tied the knot with his Italian wife a decade ago, he was told that married life with ‘foreigners’ was more interesting but more […]

    The Wold Cottage Meteorite October 15, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The Wold Cottage Meteorite

    Beachcombing has, over the months, given some publicity to meteorite history, the intrusion of bolides into human affairs, and today he thought he would do tribute to a rock that came hurtling from the sky in 1795. Though not in itself a particularly remarkable example of the shooting star the Wold Cottage Meteorite changed scientific […]

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