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  • Bow Your Hamms to Chocolate February 4, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Bow Your Hamms to Chocolate

    [[an onion]] Dieticians and quacks have long tried to convince humanity that certain foods can work wonders on our failing bodies. Beachcombing’s favourite example is Baldini’s De sorbetti (1775) where it is argued that Neapolitan ice-cream will cure everything from sniffles to tumours (another post another day). But there are others from, in the nineteenth […]

    Obscene Riddles from the Book of Exeter February 3, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    Obscene Riddles from the Book of Exeter

    Beachcombing has been driven to the edge of sanity by term papers and 90 plus students this semester. So he tried to relax earlier today with a collection of Anglo-Saxon riddles from the Book of Exeter – a ‘treasure’ that was used as a beer coaster for much of its history (another day, another post). How long it […]

    Image: Napoleon’s Lost Sword February 2, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Image: Napoleon's Lost Sword

      This image is unfortunately not a photograph, but German text-book fodder from the early part of the nineteenth century. Yet it captures perfectly one of the most painful encounters in modern history. 2 September 1870 the French army, goaded foolishly into a war with little Prussia, surrendered at Sedan and the balance of power […]

    Beachcombed 8 February 1, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Beachcombed
    Beachcombed 8

    Dear Readers, 1 Feb 2011 Some tawdry bits of news. It is now the season to search for a new web address – Beachcombing books cannot be sold on WordPress… – and so Beach is looking for the right name. Is there anyone versed in the dark arts of SEO who can give advice on a […]

    Surviving Decapitation January 31, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Surviving Decapitation

    Beachcombing was traumatised in early childhood by seeing his father execute several hens on a Pennine farm. Even now he smells the metallic tang of their blood and sees the mess of heads and bodies and the feathers sticking everywhere. (Honestly, Mrs B won’t even let the younger Beachcombings watch SOS Nanny, what was Beachcombing […]

    Human Health c. 8000 BC January 30, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Prehistoric
    Human Health c. 8000 BC

    We are told by catastrophists – many with years of state subsidised education behind them – that the present generation of children and teenagers will be the first in the west for two centuries to live shorter lives than their parents. The revolution in medical care that meant that the baby-boomers were able to eat […]

    Human Sacrifice and the Athenians January 29, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    Human Sacrifice and the Athenians

      Human sacrifice does survive in literate cultures – the Aztecs, various medieval Indian states… But in Europe, at least, it melted away at about the time of the first extensive surviving texts. The result is that Greeks or Romans or Gaels or Germanic types rarely end up putting a knife into a sacrificial victim: […]

    The Werewolf Faith in Nineteenth-Century France January 28, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The Werewolf Faith in Nineteenth-Century France

      Since beginning this blog eight months ago Beachcombing has had various itches including elephants, Atlantis (to be continued), birds and lightning. But none has bitten so deeply as the werewolf. Indeed, Beachcombing has sketched out another ten posts on the men and women who were furry on the inside. He even, damn it, started vaguely jotting […]

    Review: Night Climbers of Cambridge January 27, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Review: Night Climbers of Cambridge

    [Note: Beachcombing apologises for any emails he’s not answered but the local internet provider has been down again for the last week: and he only has a couple of minutes with term beginning to rush in and put up posts at work. As soon as service returns he’ll be writing.] Another classic from the vaults […]

    Irish Werewolf Cub-Scouts from Hell? January 26, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Medieval
    Irish Werewolf Cub-Scouts from Hell?

    Irish werewolf cub-scouts from hell… Sounds like a bad slasher film doesn’t it? But actually Beachcombing is about to introduce a genuine all singing, all dancing early medieval Irish institution. His first reading is from the  Annals of Ulster for AD 847 ‘the sack of the island of Loch Muinremair by Mael Sechnaill [Irish High King] […]

    The Werewolf of Temesa January 25, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    The Werewolf of Temesa

    A painfully short post tonight but Tiny Miss B is screaming next to the keyboard, Mrs B is out looking for a school for the elder daughter and Little Miss B is making the au pair’s life an inferno downstairs. So in dereliction of parental duty another part of the soon-to-end werewolf series: let’s hope […]

    The Allendale Wolf January 24, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The Allendale Wolf

    As this has been the season of the werewolf Beachcombing thought that today he would introduce the last English wolf, for yes, unfortunately the British Isles no longer have any of the howling ones. The conventional answer – and Beachcombing, in happier days, planned a book on British Dodos – is that the last English […]

    A Pillar and an Archer in Medieval Alexandria January 23, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Medieval
    A Pillar and an Archer in Medieval Alexandria

      Ancient pillars survive even when associated buildings collapse. Many Greco-Roman pillars, indeed, are still standing today: a testimony to the durability of early Mediterranean civilisation. The medieval dwarfs looking back at the achievements of the classical world often got excited by pillars. Pillars were probably in part responsible for causing an early English poet […]

    Image: Holy Adowa! January 22, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Image: Holy Adowa!

    Memo to any budding generals: never invade Russia in the winter, never start a land war in Asia and, most relevant for today, never presume to colonise Ethiopia…Italy unfortunately never learnt this lesson. In 1935 the Italian invasion would mark the beginning of the end for Mussolini’s regime. While in 1896 an Italian attack ended in […]

    Review: The Codex Seraphinianus January 21, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Review: The Codex Seraphinianus

    Luigi Serafini, Codex Seraphinianus (numerous editions…) Beachcombing has Ricardo R. to thank for an introduction to the Codex Seraphinianus, a guide to another world. First published in 1981, a copy from the original series now runs at about 8000 dollars. Beachcombing, who is a bit strapped for cash, did the barbaric thing and read it in […]

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