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  • The Green Devil of Quimper June 19, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The Green Devil of Quimper

    Beachcombing was taught many years ago not to trust Breton sources: there is (an almost Gaelic) tendency to colour over the terrible monotone of reality with illusory rainbow details. This rule probably holds good if you are dealing with a twelfth-century saint’s life written about a sixth-century saint (many other posts, many other days). But […]

    Giving Birth in a Coffin June 18, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
    Giving Birth in a Coffin

    Beachcombing has recently been toying around with the idea of a publication on ‘buried alive’ stories from Boccaccio to Poe. It would be a short volume, but one that would keep most of us awake past our bedtimes. Any suggestions for vaguely literate buried-alive tales please contact: drbeachcombing AT yahoo DOT com Beachcombing has got […]

    Immortal Meals 4#: Eating a French King’s Heart June 17, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Immortal Meals 4#: Eating a French King's Heart

    There are great men among great men (Plato, Galileo, Einstein…)  and great eccentrics among great eccentrics. For this second exclusive club Beachcombing’s candidates would include the charming and irrepressible William Buckland (obit 1856), Victorian geologist and zoophagist and, towards the end of his life, inmate in a mental asylum. Buckland – unlike his more mannered […]

    Jousting with Medieval Tanks June 16, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
    Jousting with Medieval Tanks

      Leonardo da Vinci: what isn’t there to like? Beachcombing certainly has always found LdV much more entertaining company than the obnoxious and pitch-perfect Michelangelo. And as a tribute of sorts  Beachcombing thought that today he would share Leonardo’s attempt to build a tank four hundred years before the Cambrai front was swarming with them […]

    King Arthur In Australia? June 15, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    King Arthur In Australia?

    The Beachcombings are overjoyed as they have finally found a new aupair, an Australian tango dancer (truly). And in her honour Beach thought he would offer up today an obscure, indeed, an almost forgotten source for the Arthurian legend,  a twelfth-century poem by the name of Draco Normannicus (Norman Battle Standard) with an almost impossibly […]

    Churchill buries Chamberlain June 14, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Churchill buries Chamberlain

    In winning the Nobel Prize for literature Winston Churchill was placed among writers of the calibre of Thomas Mann, W.B. Yeats and Rudyard Kipling. This is probably – as Churchill was the first to admit – to overstate his talents as an author: there is something to Evelyn Waugh’s bitchy description of Churchill’s ‘pseudo-Augustan prose’. […]

    St Andrew and Scythia June 13, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Medieval
    St Andrew and Scythia

    Patron saints have a strange habit of not coming from the countries that they are supposed to represent. England’s Saint George was Syrian, St Patrick was born not in Ireland but in Britain, Portugal’s patron saint lived all his life in northern Italy… Usually there is a logical enough explanation. St George, for instance, was […]

    Unusual Riots June 12, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
    Unusual Riots

    A long day ahead of Beachcombing as the family prepare to celebrate Little Miss B’s third birthday with an uneasy coalition of villagers and local think tank wonks and the confusion of their progeny. Think Farmer Pickles talking about the price of wheat, John Balls describes the demographic replacement rate, while master Pickles and master […]

    The Dauphin’s Heart June 11, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    The Dauphin's Heart

    Beachcombing is for ever rabbiting on (and on) about how time destroys memory, how everything we are told is unreliable. But the untrustworthiness of history applies not only to memory but also to objects. And what better example of this than the heart of the last dauphin, poor Louis XVII. Louis was collateral damage in […]

    Druids’ Eggs June 10, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Modern
    Druids' Eggs

    An interesting text from Pliny: (29, 3*) There is also a sort of egg, famous in the provinces of Gaul, but ignored by the Greeks. Innumerable snakes coil themselves into a ball in the summertime. Thus they make it so that it is held together by a bodily secretion and by their saliva. It is […]

    Destroying Cassino June 9, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Destroying Cassino

    There is a demolition expert in all of us. After all, who doesn’t enjoy seeing something large and complex being blasted to a million smithereens? Beachcombing, certainly, finds architectural snuff movies relaxing. In the hope then of soothing his readers – with the possible exception of medievalists whose blood will run icy cold – he […]

    Ancient Beliefs in Modern Egypt June 8, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Contemporary, Modern
    Ancient Beliefs in Modern Egypt

    Time brings its chopper down on generation after generation, annihilating almost all memory. How little we know of our grandparents’ lives, how very little of our great grandparents’: while most people living in the west today have no idea where their great grandparents lived or, indeed, their names. Yet every so often history gives evidence […]

    Cyclops Origins June 7, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    Cyclops Origins

      Beachcombing has always had a bit of a thing about Cyclops. And who can blame him? After all, the encounter between old Round Eye and that smarty-pants pirate king from Ithica is what most children – genuine or grown – remember about the Odysseus: there is something so Roald Dahlish about the disgusting yet […]

    Roman Mosaics and Bras in 1930s Leicester June 6, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Contemporary
    Roman Mosaics and Bras in 1930s Leicester

    A busy day for Beach today – the hunt for mice, newspaper columns and the ongoing search for an aupair – and so he thought that he would just quote from this 1930s guide to Roman Britain for a strange archaeological visit. Leicester, for those who don’t know it, is a rather frightening English Midland […]

    The Strangest Instrument June 5, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
    The Strangest Instrument

    In his forlorn attempts to bring the bizarre into melody Beachcombing has done a little browsing through music-history books in the last six months. And one of the manila files that he consequently opened – now stored in the rusty filing cabinet in the downstairs bathroom – was entitled ‘weird instruments’. Beachcombing is going to […]

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