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  • Capital Punishment Cobblers August 19, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Capital Punishment Cobblers

    A cute little story from France a country which seems to attract a lot of urban myths around judicial execution: the majesty of the guillotine? Many years ago, a celebrated French physician, author of an excellent work on the effects of Imagination, wished to combine theory with practice, in order to confirm the truth of […]

    Two Red Letter Books August 14, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
    Two Red Letter Books

    Here is a little historical puzzle: This account comes from northern Scotland. The least dilapidated of the chapels was dedicated to St Regulus, and there is a tradition that at the Reformation, a valuable historical record belonging to it, the work probably of some literary monk or hermit, was carried away to France by the […]

    The Mythic Mountain Treasure August 12, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The Mythic Mountain Treasure

    ***Dedicated to Leif who passed this on*** Internet connection spluttering back and Beach rushes out this fabulous story that has just been sent in. Perhaps the best thing he had read all August. It comes from Jacob Reineggs (obit 1793) who visited Georgia in the late eighteenth century. West of Gergete, near the centre of […]

    Shakespeare’s Road Trip in Wales August 11, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Shakespeare's Road Trip in Wales

    ***Sorry internet service a nightmare! Normal service will, we pray, reserve soon*** Where did Shakespeare get his fairy lore from for Midsummer Night’s Dream and the Merry Wives of Windsor? The answer is obviously the countryside of Warwickshire where he grew up. Indeed, some Shakespearean scholars have dredged through fairy references in the canon and […]

    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 […]

    Charles I and Cromwell July 28, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Charles I and Cromwell

    ***Sorry not replying to emails annihilating headache: this is a reserve post, though heartfelt for that*** 30 January 1649: the execution of Charles I. The King of England, the ‘anointed of God’ says goodbye to his younger son. He walks out into the freezing cold worried that any trembling will be misinterpreted by the crowd… […]

    A Welsh Mermaid and the Bastard with the Binoculars June 9, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    A Welsh Mermaid and the Bastard with the Binoculars

    When people see strange things they rave to friends, family and (sometimes) newspapers. When they see strange things that reveal themselves to be something utterly pedestrian, the marvel is quickly forgotten. This is, in some ways, a shame as accounts of misperception probably bring us closer to the enigmas of the world than hours and […]

    Admiral Byrd and Nazi Cobblers June 6, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Admiral Byrd and Nazi Cobblers

    ***Dedicated to KMH who, not for the first time, inspired the hunt*** The following is the record of an interview with American admiral Richard Byrd which appeared in El Mercurio, a Chilean paper, 5 March 1947: it was written by a US journalist, Lee Van Atta, but seems never to have been published in English. […]

    Two Thousand Infants Sold to Russia for Human Sacrifice May 30, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Medieval, Modern, Prehistoric
    Two Thousand Infants Sold to Russia for Human Sacrifice

    ***Dedicated to Wade who sent the relevant passage in*** The custom of burying infant children in the foundations of new buildings was well established in prehistoric, ancient and even (gulp) medieval times. The bigger and more important a building the more likely it was to a have a tot dropped in the cement. It is […]

    The Talking Dog and King’s Fellow May 25, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The Talking Dog and King's Fellow

    Horror upon horrors, today is tax day in the Beachcombing household. Somewhere in this study there are the various documents that justify Beach’s fiscal probity and he must now find them. The next twelve hours will be the most tedious  of the year. Forgive then a small post as Beach plunges into the piles of […]

    Marco Polo and Pasta May 21, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
    Marco Polo and Pasta

    ***Dedicated to Zach Nowak and Beach’s good friends over at FoodinItaly*** The lunatic idea that Marco Polo brought back spaghetti from China to grateful Italians is a modern food myth. There is no proof for this in MP’s writing: though there is an interpolated passage that might have started the confusion. In fact, the idea […]

    Transvestite President? May 19, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Transvestite President?

    Beachcombing isn’t big on cross-dressing but this fabulous pastiche of poor old Jefferson Davies’ capture caught his attention. Some accounts – Union accounts it should be noted – claim that Jefferson tried to escape wearing his wife’s clothing. This comes from the New York Times. To Maj. Hudson was given the duty of surrounding the […]

    The Popess: A Female Pope? April 28, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    The Popess: A Female Pope?

    There are popes who had children, there are popes who took part in orgies, there are popes (at least one) who did not believe in God. However, Beachcombing has so far avoided the most remarkable pope of all: Pope Joan. The story is quickly told. Pope John VIII went out to bless the people of […]

    More Christ Confusion April 20, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    More Christ Confusion

        Beach wrote a few days ago of the most moving source for the historical Christ, a source that perhaps dates back to a decade after Jesus’ death. Today, instead, he thought he would look at the most amusing source for Christ’s death, a fragment from Josephus, the turncoat who supported the Jewish resistance […]

    Newspaper Archives as Controls or Filters April 18, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Newspaper Archives as Controls or Filters

    Beachcombing spent more time than was strictly necessary last summer looking at nineteenth- and twentieth-century newspaper archives. It is an extraordinary world. You constantly find yourself caught up on headlines (‘Sea-monster seen in the Channel’, ‘Germans eat the French’) that cannot easily be ignored and then you take one last look over the page and […]

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