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  • Cat Clocks – No Really! February 28, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Cat Clocks - No Really!

    Cats, it has been a while… Then Beach recently stumbled on this very strange passage in Abbe Huc’s Chinese Empire (1854). Can there be any truth to it? Beach is doubtful but he certainly likes the idea. One day when we went to pay a visit to some families of Chinese Christian peasants, we met, […]

    Anne Frank, Ghost Weddings and Post-Mortem Baptisms February 27, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Anne Frank, Ghost Weddings and Post-Mortem Baptisms

    A bit of a ragtag post this: the possibilities of post-mortem marriage and baptism (or ‘naming ceremonies’ to remain as broad as possible). Beach got thinking about this after a recent discussion with a priest who had married a teenager to her dead boyfriend. The boyfriend had just passed away in intensive care after a […]

    Witty Gravestones February 26, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Witty Gravestones

    One of those difficult days. Two of Beachcombing three sources of income have wobbled in a single six hour span and Beach answered an obnoxious email from one of his ‘managers’ with an even more obnoxious email. Anyway, quite how he got from these troubles to gravestones he can’t remember. But he did spend a […]

    Twitter, Mon Amour February 25, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite
    Twitter, Mon Amour

    Beachcombing has enjoyable memories of explaining, in the most patronising terms possible, such arcane devices as the joy stick and Chucky Egg to dense parents and he doesn’t like seeing the same thing being done to him. But slowly, painfully, increasingly it is happening. Beach has watched bewildered as aupairs, students and nephews and nieces […]

    Mermaid Killing in Exeter February 24, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Mermaid Killing in Exeter

    Beach recently stumbled upon yet another nineteenth-century British mermaid article. ‘…the most extraordinary, the most minute (I had nearly said the most recent), and certainly the most domestic of all stories of Mermaids, as well as that in which the veracity of the narrator is the most completely pledged for the accuracy of the detail, […]

    Swallowing or Choking on (Operation) Mincemeat February 23, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Swallowing or Choking on (Operation) Mincemeat

    ***Dedicated to Glyndwr Michael*** Operation Mincemeat is often celebrated as the single greatest act of trickery of the Second World War. In 1943 a Welsh suicide victim was dressed up in the uniform of a British royal marine, put on dry ice in a submarine, thrown into the sea off the coast of Spain with […]

    The Slave Free Centuries February 22, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Medieval, Modern
    The Slave Free Centuries

    Slavery is regrettably everywhere in the past. It underlies all the great achievements of Antiquity: when Plato was discoursing on the immortality of the soul there were Syrian dancing girls and Scythian catamites lining up in the background. European colonialism grew under the shadow of the chain: it used to be said that the streets […]

    Fake Fairies February 21, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Fake Fairies

    ***Dedicated to Invisible who sent in two of these fakes***  Beachcombing apologies because he does normally try and limit his fairy nonsense to a post a week. But this was just too good to miss. He stumbled across a curious reference in the works of Robert Southey (obit 1843). While wandering through Bristol Southey saw […]

    Dragon Rats in Oxford February 20, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Dragon Rats in Oxford

    Beach has demonstrated an interest in dragons in this place on several occasions. He just recently came across an account though that trumped most of the shilly-shally he has put up here in the past.  ‘Jacob Bobart botany professor of Oxford, did about forty years ago (in 1704) find a dead rat in the Physic […]

    The Valley of Sweet Bells and Dead Bodies February 19, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    The Valley of Sweet Bells and Dead Bodies

    Usually when Christian missionaries come face to face with a pagan shrine, the vitae tells us that the axe comes out and the splinters fly. But imagine if you were one of these (perhaps God-forsaken) missionaries in the woods of early medieval Germany or the great mountain ranges of Asia. How many really felt courage […]

    Irish Changeling in New York February 18, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Irish Changeling in New York

    Ok there has been a lot of energy and desperation spent on this one: Beach has wasted, in fact, about six hours of his life trying to chase down the story. If any reader should happen to find a newspaper version there will be a bright shiny book of some description put in the post […]

    Slaves for Sale February 17, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Slaves for Sale

    Beachcombing has recently become interested in slavery, a matter that he has neglected in previous posts, with the exception of a very unpleasant beating in Colonial American and an early piece on the Barbary Coast. Beach has particularly been impressed/horrified by slave adverts and has stumbled on several remarkable examples. Let’s start off with something […]

    Somehow Still Walking February 16, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Somehow Still Walking

    Beachcombing used to live on a farm next to an SS veteran who had escaped from a Soviet prisoner of war camp with four ‘through and throughs’, a lot of random shrapnel and with one of his eye balls conspicuously absent: he was a bit of a ‘card’ and refused to wear a glass eye. […]

    Hippocratic Cobblers. February 15, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Contemporary, Modern
    Hippocratic Cobblers.

    ***Dedicated to good and honest doctors: a pox on the others…*** Beachcombing has suffered greatly under the tyranny of white-coats over the years: blame a long undiagnosed and thus untreated condition – uncovered eventually after about ten minutes on Wikipedia. He has come then to expect problems in the medical sector. But nothing prepared him […]

    August 1914: Surprise or Countdown? February 14, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    August 1914: Surprise or Countdown?

    In western memory, particularly in European memory the guns of August 1914 were a long awaited horror: and while the First World War was so much worse than anyone could have possibly imagined – Beach thinks of an earlier Churchill post on the nineteenth century comparing itself with the twentieth – everyone knew it was […]

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