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  • Last Words: Last Lies May 14, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Last Words: Last Lies

    Beachcombing has wasted literally days of his life looking at last words of the famous, the infamous and the simply anonymous. There is something so fascinating about utterances from the edge of the cliff. But how many of these gilded sentences are genuine? And how many simply the blather of post-mortem spin? Take Voltaire (obit […]

    Manned Kite Flight in Medieval China May 13, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    Manned Kite Flight in Medieval China

    **This post is dedicated to Ricardo R. who put Beachcombing onto the Chinese kite** School’s out for ever! Well actually just for ten days before the summer students arrive and another course  is pushed off the cliff… Still for now it feels like for ever and Beachcombing is properly grateful. So much so that he […]

    Superman versus Hitler May 12, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Superman versus Hitler

    Oh those happy, innocent afternoons a few decades ago! Home from school /college Beachcombing would sit through the junk that British children’s television had to offer. He would quickly take in the news headlines on BBC 1 at 6.00 pm (cruise missiles, inflation, cricket defeats…) and then turn over at 6.02 pm to BBC 2 […]

    Shelley, the Cat, the Kite and the Bolt of Lightning May 11, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Shelley, the Cat, the Kite and the Bolt of Lightning

    Beachcombing thought that today he would combine a recent obsession – cats, with an older obsession – lightning and a coming obsession, kites. The party guilty for bringing these three unlikely subjects together was none other than Romantic brat extraordinaire Percy Bysshe Shelley (obit 1822 – ‘I fall upon the thorns of life, I bleed’ […]

    Saving and Murdering in the Holocaust May 10, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Saving and Murdering in the Holocaust

    Beachcombing noted in this place a month ago – death-dealer of Kovno – that an important new book on Germany’s wartime atrocities is coming out: Hitler’s Foreign Executioners: Europe’s Dirty Secret by Chris Hale. CH argues in this work that subject populations of the occupied territories often partook enthusiastically in the Final Solution or ‘Outdoor […]

    The Leper Prince May 9, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    The Leper Prince

    Monarchies are not perhaps the worst systems of government. But they suffer from one serious drawback. Even the best dynasties – with immaculate DNA and good schooling – throw up an idiot or a weakling once a century and if that idiot/weakling coincides with a famine or a plague or a spot of class warfare […]

    Viking and Pirate Black Cats May 8, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
    Viking and Pirate Black Cats

    ***This post is dedicated to BAY and Raspberry Beret*** Beachcombing would be the first to admit that he has been overdoing it with cats recently: this despite not even particularly caring for moggies, being much more a dog and tortoise person. But an email from BAY on Beach’s black cats – unlucky for some piece […]

    The Saint Who Became A Cat May 7, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Medieval, Modern
    The Saint Who Became A Cat

    Beachcombing has previously looked at St Christopher a dog-headed saint. But what about St Agatha who can turn into a cat? First a little background. Agatha was a martyr saint from Catania, Sicily whose five-day festival each year in early February remains one of the highlights of civic life in the city and whose climax […]

    Julian in the Desert May 6, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    Julian in the Desert

    Beachcombing finished his last exam yesterday and, with the exceptions of the long and frankly tedious work of correction, term is now all but over. Hurrah! Hurrah! By way of celebration Beachcombing thought that he would visit this morning one of his favourite hinge moments. The death of Julian the Apostate and with him the […]

    Flinders Island May 5, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Flinders Island

    Beachcombing tries to get a geographical spread going with his posts where – if there is a depressing bias towards Europe and Blighty – he covers pretty much the whole globe  in at least a token fashion. However, some parts of the world are underrepresented. Take Australasia. Bar some reports of moas in New Zealand […]

    Hill Hill Hill Hill May 4, 2011

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

    Placenames, like history, are as much a product of human incompetence as human genius. Take the phenomenon of pleonastic placenames – an intimidating word signalling the limitations of language and understanding. Rather than explain what is meant it is best to give an example, the Yorkshire placenames of Seamer Water (pictured above). Working backwards, generally […]

    Black Cats: Unlucky for Some May 3, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite, Modern
    Black Cats: Unlucky for Some

    Beachcombing’s mother has flown in from the Dominions to visit her grandchildren and generally cause confusion – arguments over restaurant bills, dietary controversies and black cats… On the last point Beachcombing has to admit though that his mater has a point, one worth sharing with a wider audience. It would hardly be worth worrying about […]

    From Ox Carts to Railways May 2, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern, Prehistoric
    From Ox Carts to Railways

    Archaeologists love the idea of continuity, the notion that little really changes, that from generation to generation, though the forms, languages and professions of faith may alter, the substance remains the same. Historians are, generally speaking, the opposite. They fixate on change and have little patience with the archaeological fraternity – Beachcombing wrote for many […]

    Beachcombed 11 May 1, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Beachcombed
    Beachcombed 11

    Dear Readers, 1 May Here is Beachcombing’s round up of exceptional emails and comments from the month of April. He cannot list here all the many ideas for posts he has received. However, he hopes to come to these with time. The most popular post this month was the Meson del Fierro and there are […]

    Crowning Corpses in Portugal April 30, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    Crowning Corpses in Portugal

    Beachcombing’s site has a long and honourable tradition of screwing up anniversaries and today will be no different: a celebration of the most bizarre royal ceremony in history, a full twenty four hours after the fairly modest William-Kate affair drew to its uncontroversial conclusion. Bizarrists will already have anticipated. Beachcombing is, of course, referring to […]

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