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English King Discovered Under Carpark September 13, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
English King Discovered Under Carpark

***Dedicated to Roundj*** Beach does his very best not to be topical on this blog. But the news coming from Leicester (UK) yesterday is hard to ignore. At the end of August archaeologists began to dig in a car park there in search of the body of Richard III, the last English king to die […]

Are Societies What They Eat? September 11, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
Are Societies What They Eat?

There is no question that food and drink change us. If you begin to drink two litres of coca-cola a day, instead of a litre of fizzy water or if you start chewing on cocoa leaves instead of making banana smoothies your family will quickly notice a difference. Here there is and can be no […]

Generals, Entrepreneurs or Politicians? September 6, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
Generals, Entrepreneurs or Politicians?

Paul Johnson is a journalist and historian who Beachcombing considers the single most irritating Englishman alive. However, and this is perhaps part of why Beachcombing finds PJ so irritating, he can be extraordinarily perceptive: though anyone with their finger hovering over an amazon buy button should know that this is far from an inevitable outcome. […]

Casualties and Memory September 3, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
Casualties and Memory

This post was written as a response to a memory that has been whirling around and around in the last few days. The only time Beach ever saw his grandmother – a fine old English matron – weep was when she talked about the First World War. She had, in fact, no direct experience of […]

Eating Prisoners of War? Ten Thousand Years of ‘I Surrender’ August 29, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Contemporary, Medieval, Modern, Prehistoric
Eating Prisoners of War? Ten Thousand Years of 'I Surrender'

***This post is dedicated to A.G. who sent in the following question*** A.G. writes ‘I have often wondered what happened to the wounded left behind during the Napoleonic wars and earlier.  Did the locals come along and kill them for their personal belongings, were they cared for and held for ransom, what? I am speaking […]

The Bottle Hoax August 27, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
The Bottle Hoax

A cute story that belongs to the please-let-it-be-true category of human endeavour. The Duke of Montague being in company with some other noblemen, proposed a wager, that let a man advertize to do the most impossible thing in the world, he would find fools enough in London to fill a playhouse, who would think him […]

Baring-Goulds’ Pixies August 23, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
Baring-Goulds' Pixies

Anyone interested in fairies will read in many places of Sabine Baring-Gould’s childhood encounter with pixies. But how many will have actually read the original? In an effort to correct this Beach sat this afternoon tapping out the following text only to discover that someone else got there first: a bunch of heroes over at […]

Prussians in the Frame: Brownies Out August 22, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
Prussians in the Frame: Brownies Out

Beach often shows his students WW1 and WW2 photographs in class. He lets the effect wash over them and then breaks that effect by asking them why the photograph is staged. For most of the best shots from the world wars are the invention or, at very best, the ‘reconstruction’ of photographers who were far […]

See But Can’t Touch August 15, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
See But Can't Touch

Beach travelled by plane earlier this summer with little Miss B to the UK. Aged just four his daughter marvelled as she looked out of the window at the cloudlands that stretched away in every direction: Beach remembers a similar marvelling when he was about ten and went on his first long plane journey. Things […]

Protestantism, Statues and Sore Breasts/Fronts August 13, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
Protestantism, Statues and Sore Breasts/Fronts

***Those idiots at the internet company are playing their games again: the signal ebbs and flows, apologies that this is late then and expect further disturbances*** A week ago now Beach mentioned the Devon folklorist Miss Theo Brown, a great talent who published in the 1960s. He was particularly interested to read yesterday an article […]

The Cloud of Death, Hawker and A Letter to the Times August 10, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
The Cloud of Death, Hawker and A Letter to the Times

A pleasing example of how something unusual can get blow up into something extraordinary. A letter to The Times 1 Dec 1858 from North Cornwall [this date appears to be slightly wrong, it must be a couple of days later] To the Editor of The Times Sir, Last night, at 15 minutes to 9, it […]

Photo Fakes and Irresponsible Buffoonery August 9, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
Photo Fakes and Irresponsible Buffoonery

   ***Dedicated to Invisible who sent the first paragraph and wrote the second*** The camera never lies, a picture is worth a thousand words, the architecture of light and shadows: photography in short. Enjoy this little extract from an Arthur Conan Doyle biography. During Conan Doyle’s last lecture in Nairobi…he showed a photograph taken of […]

Headless Coachmen and Crime August 7, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
Headless Coachmen and Crime

In the Middle Ages they had the wild hunt, the insanely nasty cavalry that rode across the sky. Then, come the early modern period, when everyone had ‘grown up a bit’ and men with shag and swords were so, well, ‘medieval’, that they moved on. They started seeing, instead, headless horsemen out on the toll […]

The Hairies: Thoughts from Africa August 5, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
The Hairies: Thoughts from Africa

Beach has only very inadequate knowledge of cryptozoology, so if he says things here that are unoriginal, stupid or dangerous he wants to apologise ahead of time. It is just that he didn’t go to sleep until very late last night because he found this stuff so interesting. He knows that there are ape men […]

Queens On Top (or not?) August 3, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
Queens On Top (or not?)

Beach has been waxing lyrical a lot about monarchy recently: there was Charles I with his head sewn back on (the bastards!), then there was environment vs the hereditary principle (or perhaps better environment within the hereditary principle) and today we come to queens. Queens, you’ve got to love them. For is it Beachcombing’s imagination […]

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