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  • The Problem with Sea Apes May 24, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite, Contemporary, Modern
    The Problem with Sea Apes

    ***Dedicated to Andy the Mad Monk and Invisible*** Beach has, since the early days of this site, shown a persistent interest in mermaids. It would be outrageous then to pass by the important new documentary coming out (or has it already aired?) on Animal Planet. The following is borrowed from Wikipedia (courtesy of the inestimable […]

    The Postures: A Missing Erotic Classic May 22, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The Postures: A Missing Erotic Classic

    Beachcombing has often celebrated in this place lost books and burning libraries. Today he wants to celebrate a book that while not lost (it can be found in a modern edition on the top shelves of academic institutions around the world) got through to us by the skin of its erotic teeth. Beach refers, of course, to  I […]

    The Great Snake Scare of 1828 May 16, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The Great Snake Scare of 1828

    A cute little WtH story from deepest Devon (Tavistock) about a cryptid snake. Beach knows that nineteenth-century newspapers had a great time making up serpents and other monsters, cue ‘the 200-foot-long Hideous Ice Worm‘ with hat tip to Invisible. But in this case local tradition seems to have done the job for them. I think […]

    The Leprechauns of Liverpool and the Bowling Green from Hell May 14, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    The Leprechauns of Liverpool and the Bowling Green from Hell

    Beachcombing has been spending some time in the last few days looking at the fairy lore of Irish immigrants: spurred on by his continuing failure to find the New York changeling case. Not surprisingly the city of Liverpool stuck out: Liverpool was flooded by Irish workers in the nineteenth century, particularly after the horrors of […]

    Immortal Meals #8: The Ash Wednesday Supper May 12, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
    Immortal Meals #8: The Ash Wednesday Supper

    Giordano Bruno (pictured badly) was a sixteenth-century philosopher with a thing about infinity. Giordano also had an infinite capacity to create irritation. Indeed, his travels around Europe have a fascinating pattern of greeting, slighting and sprinting. Typically, GB is obliged to leave his last home in a hurry because of offence caused to the church […]

    Badgers, Pigs and Asses: Celtic in English May 10, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Medieval
    Badgers, Pigs and Asses: Celtic in English

    ‘While I was on the ass, going to feed my dun hog, carrying only a matlock and some bannock, I saw a brock coming down from the tor that’s shaped like a bin’. It is not exactly poetry. But this sentence might stand as a memory aid for students of English. The interest lies not […]

    Geologist Galivants with Spirits and Fairies May 9, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Geologist Galivants with Spirits and Fairies

    John Beaumont (obit 1751)  was a celebrated, to use an anachronistic word, geologist. He also experienced ‘the other side’ with a rush of spirits and ghosts that would have thrilled a wind-sock. One passage from his An Historical Physiological and Theological Treatise of Spirits, Apparitions, Witchcrafts, and Other Magical Practises are well known because they […]

    Selling Wives May 7, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Selling Wives

    One British author writes in 1910 ‘Within the last twenty years there have been at least a dozen cases reported in the press of men in a low station in life who have sold their wives, under the impression they could legally do so if all parties were willing. One husband parted with his spouse […]

    Indecent Lifting and Heaving May 6, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
    Indecent Lifting and Heaving

    Beach recently came across the custom of ‘lifting’ for the first time courtesy of Invisible and Two Nerdy History Girls (an excellent blog should you get the chance). The girls describe an instance of lifting in Shrewsbury. This is part of the relevant extract: the full extract is to be found chez Nerd following the […]

    The Last Invasion of Britain? May 5, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The Last Invasion of Britain?

    It is sometimes said that the last invasion of Britain took place 22 April 1778 at Whitehaven in Cumbria. On that date, John Paul Jones, a Scot and an American patriot led his ship, the USS Ranger, against the small Lakeland Port (another post, another day) in an unlikely annex to the War of Independence. […]

    Lost in Transmission May 4, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Medieval, Modern
    Lost in Transmission

    Words echo through the centuries like coins dropped down an infinite well. And as they are passed on they are smoothed and confused in the mouths of the people. The best examples we have of this are, of course, placenames: in the space of eighty generations Londinium becomes London, Mamucium becomes Manchester and Euboricum becomes […]

    The Babel of History May 2, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
    The Babel of History

      The past according to a much worn-line is ‘a foreign country, they do things differently there’. Of course, if this were all then history would be a doddle. It would be enough to fill the Cutty Sark with sabres and give the natives music sheets for their acres. But, unfortunately for those who like […]

    Nanny Coincidence April 19, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Nanny Coincidence

    When Churchill died in 1965 at the age of 90 there was one picture by his bedside. The picture was not of his wife (though their marriage had been a success), nor of his children, nor of his parents. Rather it was of his nanny who had left the earth seventy years before (obit 1895). […]

    Misfortunes with Severed Heads: Richard Owen and Lancaster Jail April 17, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Misfortunes with Severed Heads: Richard Owen and Lancaster Jail

    Beachcombing regrets that he cannot provide the primary source for the following anecdote from Richard Owen’s early life. Anyone lucky enough to have instant access to mid nineteenth-century periodicals will find it in Hood’s Magazine and Comic Miscellany vol 3 (1845), 294-303. Beach is taking this paraphrase from the excellent Dinosaur Hunters by Deborah Cadbury, […]

    Pixie-Led in the South-West April 16, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Pixie-Led in the South-West

    Beachcombing is back to the fairies. One subject that has intrigued him through this spring is the rare fairy-phenomenon of being ‘pixie-led’, one particularly associated with the south-west of England: hence the name as ‘the pixies’ are the fairies of Cornwall and Devon. To be pixie-led is to be led astray by the good folk […]

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