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  • The Valley of Elves, Nymphs, Cars, Swans or Whatever February 11, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    The Valley of Elves, Nymphs, Cars, Swans or Whatever

    The elves were Anglo-Saxon fairies and as such deserve a bizarrist’s respect. They are though – not unlike the medieval fairies that come after – gone almost without trace. But there is, every so often, a Dark Age charm, a riddle, a line of Anglo-Saxon poetry that recalls belief in this receding people. Make no […]

    The Rocking Stone Unrocked February 10, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The Rocking Stone Unrocked

    The mother of all busy days today as students clamor for assistance and daughters for entertainment. Beach hope that readers will forgive him for offering up this story from his winter reading about Cornwall in the south-west of Britain. Our author is describing the Loggan Stone, aka the Logan Stone of Treen. This far-famed rock […]

    Cato’s Sword February 9, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    Cato's Sword

    Beachcombing usually plans about two days ahead with his posts. But every so often something emerges from out of the depths of the subconscious and will just not leave him in peace. This morning it was the death of Cato the Younger that tapped like a woodpecker on his inner skull. It had already been […]

    Fairies and Golf Balls February 8, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Fairies and Golf Balls

    Beachcombing had a melancholy moment this morning. He turned up a report from the mid nineteenth-century (a letter) of a forgotten bit of fairylore from the county of Leicestershire: a county (for those in less happy lands) in the English Midlands. In the lordship of Humberston, on the estate of Mr. Poohin [try looking for […]

    Irish Giants: Prehistoric and Otherwise February 7, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern, Prehistoric
    Irish Giants: Prehistoric and Otherwise

    Beach stumbled the other day on this passage from the Dublin Freeman’s Journal, August 1812. ‘It is not a little surprising, considering our veneration for Irish antiquities, that no notice should be taken of the skeleton recently disinterred at Leixlip. This extraordinary monument of gigantic human stature was found by two laborers in Leixlip churchyard […]

    Anticipating the Telephone February 6, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Anticipating the Telephone

    Beachcombing rather cheekily talked about an anticipation of email the other day: an anticipation of the telegraph would have made more sense, sorry. But what about this anticipation of the telephone from the late seventeenth century? And as glasses have highly promoted our seeing, so ‘tis not improbable but that there may be found many […]

    Mona Lisa Madness February 5, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Mona Lisa Madness

    Beachcombing has long taken an interest in Leonardo’s Mona Lisa. Not because he is particularly a fan of cold and bold LdV and those other renaissance artists who wrecked the unity of the Middle Ages. But because the Giocanda has attracted pretty much every mad theory about: we’ll come to this week’s in a moment. […]

    Beachcombing’s Invisible Library February 4, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
    Beachcombing's Invisible Library

      Beachcombing has had a lot of fun over the last year and a half cataloging invisible libraries, libraries that only exist in the imagination of authors and connoisseurs. Today, Beach thought he would take stock of the achievement to date and also, in a fit of utter self-indulgence, introduce readers to Mrs B’s contribution […]

    Anticipating Email by Three Hundred Years February 3, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Anticipating Email by Three Hundred Years

    Beachcombing is in a technological mood and is looking for technologies that have been anticipated, against all odds, in previous ages. What about for example this late seventeenth-century anticipation of email: or perhaps we should be more modest and say the electric telegraph. But… to advance another instance. That men should confer at very distant […]

    Image: Princip’s Conscience February 2, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Image: Princip's Conscience

    Beach has several things on his conscience. Aged eight he clumsily trod on a frog breaking its back bone; last summer he accidentally killed a baby adder while trying to get it out of the garden; and then there was a very painful split with a girl who deserved better a decade ago, sorry E. […]

    Beachcombed 20 February 1, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Beachcombed
    Beachcombed 20

    A Happy 1st Feb to All Readers! Jan has now passed and strangehistory continues to grow. This was the month that Beachcombing published (electronically) his first volume and March should (?) see the first proper publication on this site. Negotiations are ongoing with a local artisan printer. Beach hopes in the end to draw even […]

    Owen’s Untimely Death January 31, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Owen's Untimely Death

      There are occasional micro moments in history that are so extraordinary painful to read about that they strangely dwarf greater tragedies such as the liquidation of a ghetto, the dropping of an atom bomb or the sinking of a cruise-liner. One of these micro tragedies that has been bobbing in and out of Beachcombing’s […]

    The Decline of the Public Domain January 30, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite
    The Decline of the Public Domain

    Beachcombing, like many aging ideologues, can no longer bring himself to care about things that used to give his teenage self heartburn. But, there are a few exceptions – identity cards, Brussels delenda est, reptile road-crossing tunnels… – that buzz him into life. Not least among these and particularly associated in his mind with this […]

    An Overlong Name January 29, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    An Overlong Name

    Another of Beachcombing’s deities died this morning: the small Welsh village of Llanfairpwllgwyngyll-gogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch (Anglesey) well known in Britain as having the longest name in the country, if not the world. Of course, a moment’s consideration should have told Beach that something fishy was going on; instead, he had innocently let the name be, reasoning that […]

    Ancient Laughter, Modern Bewilderment January 28, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    Ancient Laughter, Modern Bewilderment

    Humour, it is sometimes said, is the most socially dependent aspect of literature. The gags that set William Shakespeare’s audience laughing now, very often, leave us shivering cold. Sometimes the generational shift is there under our eyes: the jokes in 1930s movies, Will Hay for example, appear fabulous to Beach but leave his students giving […]

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