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  • Dreaming Murder in Parliament #2: The Event October 9, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Dreaming Murder in Parliament #2: The Event

    Any study of the psychic dream that supposedly/allegedly accompanied the death of Spencer Percival in 1812 needs some background: most studies get straight to the dream and skip over the whos and whats of the assassination, which have some intriguing aspects in themselves. Spencer Perceval (1762-1812) was a Tory statesman who had served as Chancellor […]

    Bread and Drowning October 8, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Bread and Drowning

    People drown, almost by definition, in large bodies of water: very few people end their lives in baths or ponds or puddles. This means that there is the problem of how to find any missing bodies. Our ancestor pragmatically used magic to find these lost bodies and it is interesting just how late the magic […]

    Dreaming Murder in Parliament #1: Arthur Speaks October 7, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Dreaming Murder in Parliament #1: Arthur Speaks

    This case is a psychic classic that Beach has long wanted to look into. He thought he would begin with a well-written but uncritical account to show just how excited people can get. Cue Arthur Conan Doyle who claimed that this was ‘clear proof of psychic action… though there is some slight confusion about the […]

    The Mystery of Hadrian’s Wall October 6, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    The Mystery of Hadrian's Wall

    Hadrian’s Wall is one of the great Roman mysteries: though most archaeologists and classicists that trot obediently along it do not think of ‘the Wall’ in those terms. Consider the facts though. Hadrian builds HW in 122-c.126 as part of his efforts to retrench the Empire after Trajan’s expansionary policy in Dacia and Armenia. Hadrian […]

    Jumping the Broomstick September 30, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Jumping the Broomstick

    Here’s an account from the marches of Yorkshire and Lancashire. It involves a very unusual folk wedding in the late nineteeenth or the early twentieth century. One of the strangest sights that I ever saw in my early inn days was a ‘brush steyl’ wedding at an inn on the Stanedge Road. We had been […]

    Fairy and Diary September 26, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Fairy and Diary

    Just recently Beach came across an eighteenth-century diary with a strange fairy reference and wondered if any readers could help with trying to get to the bottom of it. First, we should say that the diary, by one Rev John Thomlinson, is full of highly elliptical references: it was definitely not for public consumption, but […]

    The Existence of the Mermaid is Now Certain c. 1794 September 24, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The Existence of the Mermaid is Now Certain c. 1794

    We haven’t done mermaids for a long time. Yet who can forget the submarine and the mermaids or the Queen of Cuba or the mermaid that ate boiled fish or for that matter Christopher Columbus and the mermaid and the mermaid killed in Exeter. Oh happy days… Anyway, from memories of the past to a new […]

    African in Tenth-Century Britain September 22, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    African in Tenth-Century Britain

    ***Thanks to Borky for this lovely piece*** People and perhaps particularly kids are forever pulling things out of rivers. So the fact that, in July of this year, a couple of thirteen-year-olds dragged some human bones out of the Coln river in Gloucestershire is hardly a world-stopper.  Nor it is suprising that these bones turned […]

    Spectacle in the Victorian Theatre September 14, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Spectacle in the Victorian Theatre

    The Victorians had a wonderfully superficial streak, which somehow went beyond mere materialism and teetered on the sublime. There are few times where this comes out more than in their theatre spectaculars where content was sacrificed ruthlessly to effect and appearance. You want to put on Anthony and Cleopatra? Great, gut about seven of the […]

    Review: The Hikey Sprites September 12, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite, Contemporary, Modern
    Review: The Hikey Sprites

    Review of Ray Loveday, The Hikey Sprites: The Twilight of a Norfolk Tradition (Norfolk 2009) The Hikey Sprites (aka Hyter Sprites) were Norfolk fairies that were summoned up by parents and grandparents to corral children into decency: ‘you be good or the Hikeys will get you’; ‘get home before dark or the Hikeys will get […]

    Professional Pipe Smoking September 4, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Professional Pipe Smoking

    The strange sports series continues. So far we have enjoyed naked running, clowns playing cricket, homicidal basketball and, of course, purring. This time we are in a weird little corner of the South Pennines in northern England. In this particularly nineteenth-century village the highlight of Wakes week – working man’s summer holiday – was the […]

    Fear and Black Dogs August 30, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite, Contemporary, Modern
    Fear and Black Dogs

    Black dogs – and we’ve covered a few posts on this subject with fairy dogs and the black dog of Bungay: why are they so frightening? Ian McEwan’s best novel is probably Black Dogs in which idealism destroys evil catches the terror of big black canines perfectly. But Beach was terrified too in his recent […]

    Victorian Lesbian Cobblers August 26, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Victorian Lesbian Cobblers

    A week in which this blogger has had a thrilling time reading works on the history of lesbianism: some surprisingly good books out there. Anyway, one of the most fascinating facts about sexuality in western Europe and later European colonies is that way that there was one standard for male homosexuality and quite another for […]

    Review: Shock! The Black Dog of Bungay August 10, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite, Contemporary, Modern
    Review: Shock! The Black Dog of Bungay

    ***Thanks to the Count for this tip*** Shock: The Black Dog of Bungay is a recent book (2010) by David Waldron (of Ballarat Australia) and Christopher Reeve of Bungay, Norfolk. The fact that you have to get a historian-anthropologist from down-under and a Norfolk historian to do justice to said black dog – and they […]

    H.F.Morton and Boggarts August 5, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    H.F.Morton and Boggarts

    Beach has previously noted what an unusual field fairy studies is: for example, it is one of the few fields where amateurs outnumber and where amateurs are clearly better than academic writers. Another curiosity is the peculiar history of some of the fairy books out there and their tortured path to publication and beyond. There […]

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