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  • 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 […]

    Singing Enemy Songs: Lili Marleen April 13, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Singing Enemy Songs: Lili Marleen

    One of the most moving moments in cinema is the extraordinary ending of Kubrick’s Paths of Glory. A young German girl is pulled in front of a crowd of French soldiers and forced to sing. The poilu mock her but as she nervously begins  the mood changes. The soldiers join in and drown her anxious, […]

    The Irish Invade Canada April 12, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The Irish Invade Canada

    Beachcombing used to run a series of tags on weird wars and he thought that he would resurrect these with references to one of strangest invasions in world history. 11 June 1866 between 600 and 800 Irish Fenians based in the United States declared war on the British Empire with its population running to hundreds […]

    Icelandic Penis Collections, Gnome Sanctuaries and Other Unusual Museums April 3, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite, Contemporary
    Icelandic Penis Collections, Gnome Sanctuaries and Other Unusual Museums

    Beachcombing was in his early teens on holiday in Cornwall when he went to the Gnome Museum. There was a very likeable hippy in her early forties (?) who ran the place and showed Beach and family around a couple of rooms and the garden where she had ‘seen’ the gnomes: there had been some […]

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