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  • 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 […]

    Beethoven and the Fire from Heaven January 20, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Beethoven and the Fire from Heaven

    Beachcombing recently offered three posts on the subject of lightning, trying to dig up some occasions when a bolt has changed, however modestly, the course of human history. Beachcombing must confess though to being slightly disappointed that lightning has not done more for (or against) humanity: any other lightning offers – drbeachcombing AT yahoo DOT […]

    Silly Sieg Heils January 19, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Silly Sieg Heils

    The Nazi and ‘Roman’ Salute have been traditional signs of the extra-parliamentary right since the 1920s. Claims have been made that these salutations are more hygenic, more beautiful and also of shorter duration than the handshake. Well, Beachcombing is certainly no fan of palming… However, he finds – memories of the Great Dictator? – the […]

    A Roman Werewolf and a Dinner Tale January 18, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    A Roman Werewolf and a Dinner Tale

    Beachcombing still has the werewolf itch and it will not be exorcised unless he manages to spit out the story of Niceros the Freedman. The tale appears in Petronius’ Satyricon, the incomplete and bawdy Roman road novel that is best know today for its description of a Roman feast – where, in fact, this story is told. […]

    Irish hang-women January 17, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Irish hang-women

    Richard Clark in his remarkable Capital Punishment in Britain has a story that has been buzzing around and around in Beachcombing’s head for the last six months. In his chapter on hang-men RC notes, in a final short section, that ‘Ireland allowed women to be involved with executions and two were’. He records a female assistant executioner who […]

    A Werewolf in 1960s Italy January 16, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    A Werewolf in 1960s Italy

    Regular readers will know that Beachcombing has no great love for sociologists, who are to historians (or should be to historians) what garlic is to a vampire. However, he makes an exception for Belden Paulson’s brilliant The Searchers (1966) a description of life in a small Italian town, Castelfuoco (not its real name!), in the […]

    Atlantis in the Far East January 15, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Contemporary
    Atlantis in the Far East

    Naive Beachcombing set out in an earlier post his ambition to create a list of all the locations in the world that have been claimed over the years as the ‘true’ Atlantis. However, while writing this piece over Christmas he ran into a problem that he had not frankly anticipated. There are just so many places that […]

    The End of the Werewolf Faith in Strasburg January 14, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The End of the Werewolf Faith in Strasburg

    Beachcombing recently examined the death of the fairy faith in the Yorkshire town of Ilkley and sold it to his readers as a melancholy moment in that community’s history. Today he thought, instead, that he would give evidence for the beginning of the end of faith in were-wolves in the area around Strasburg (‘Germany’ or […]

    The Ass Who Became a Saint January 13, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The Ass Who Became a Saint

    Yesterday Beachcombing visited the doghead legend of St Christopher and today, in sympathy for that early canine holyman he thought that he would recount the remarkable canonization of an ass. The version that Beachcoming is about to give appears in a rather obscure but very worthwhile book: The Life and Adventures of Nathaniel Pearce (1831) describing the doings of […]

    The Dog-Headed Saint January 12, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Medieval
    The Dog-Headed Saint

      St Christopher is in many ways a typical early eastern saint. He was for many years a prisoner of war: check. He was a Roman soldier when he turned to Christ: check. His staff miraculously took to life and began to bloom: check. An angel – Raphael no less – gave him the gift of speaking […]

    Image: Cow Sheds and Massacres January 11, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Image: Cow Sheds and Massacres

    Beachcombing has had the novel experience, in these days of premature babies, of watching lots of history documentaries. It is one of the few things that you can do while syringe feeding a fifteen-day-old tot and hoping that she will sleep. After years of staying away from television, he’s been treated to a lot of sub-standard stuff, but […]

    Last Will and Testament of a Pig January 10, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    Last Will and Testament of a Pig

    Beachcombing ran across a curious little work today: the Testamentum Porcelli, Will of a Pig. It is possible that he read it many years ago because it seemed vaguely familiar: there is certainly something pleasingly grotesque in its words – a bit Roald Dahl - that brought Beachcombing back to his early 20s when Beach drank too […]

    When Muhammad Kissed Ferdinand January 9, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    When Muhammad Kissed Ferdinand

    What do Beachcombing and Osama Bin Laden have in common? Diabetes? Permanent facial hair? Exclusive education in London? Start up fund from the CIA? No, no, no, no and no. The answer is, of course, a love of Al-Andalus. Al Andalus, as Osama himself would tell us were he a blogger, was the last Muslim kingdom […]

    Review: Nuns Behaving Badly January 8, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Review: Nuns Behaving Badly

      Crag Monson, Nuns Behaving Badly: Tales of Music, Magic, Art and Arson in the Convents of Italy (University of Chicago 2010) Mrs B. bade farewell, a decade ago, to a Catholic friend who had decided to pass into a nunnery in the Swiss Alps. Giulia, then in her twenties, said goodbye to family and […]

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