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  • A Book about Spitting April 28, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite, Contemporary
    A Book about Spitting

                      Jerry Lembcke, The Spitting Image: Myth, Memory, and the Legacy of Vietnam (New York University Press 1998) Beachcombing was never going to let a book about spitting in history pass him by. And so when he heard that Jerry Lembcke had given over two hundred pages […]

    Vedic History and the Myth of the Golden Age April 17, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite, Ancient, Prehistoric
    Vedic History and the Myth of the Golden Age

    Every so often when Beachcombing writes a post, pastes a text in, finds an inane photograph and presses ‘publish’ there comes the click. It is a noise that means he has just stepped on a pressure bomb and that his next step is going to lead to dissolution: or, in blogging terms, thirty furious emails […]

    Sweet Will of Stratford April 4, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Sweet Will of Stratford

    One of the great joys of writing posts for this blog in the last ten months has been the experience of coming across new mysteries. And of the many that Beachcombing has tripped over in his sorry excuse for research none has bemused him more than the mystery of Will of Stratford, otherwise known as […]

    Discovering Australia in the Sixteenth Century March 28, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Discovering Australia in the Sixteenth Century

      Beachcombing has been wondering in the last few days about the various maps from the Age of Discover when Europe was laying claim to the world. These charts are a dream for mystery lovers as there are so many ‘irregularities’ that can be explained in the hushed tones of a conspiracy theory: drbeachcombing is always interested in […]

    Headless Races March 27, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    Headless Races

      After all those head lice (see previous posts) Beachcombing gets back to some decapitation stories, not least because it would be the most efficient way to solve his family’s present problems. In any case, before anyone makes contact with the social workers… In response to an earlier beheading post RR wrote in with the following […]

    Nationalising Women on the Volga March 8, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Nationalising Women on the Volga

      Beachcombing has been remiss in picking on the Soviet Union recently, his last efforts came in October of last year. However, yesterday’s post on Women Service sparked a memory within a memory and sent Beachcombing running to his book shelves. The work in question was Frederick Bailey’s brilliant Mission to Tashkent. Bailey – a British spy […]

    Mass Hysteria and Ancient Theatre March 6, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    Mass Hysteria and Ancient Theatre

    Another birthday party visit for Little Miss B this afternoon: birthday parties are rapidly becoming, along with potty training, bad Disney and the satanic Little Miss Kitty, the worst things about parenthood. Beachcombing is forced, in any case, to limit himself to a quick post on Lucian of Samosota today. Now, to get down to […]

    Cobblers: a UFO in Palazzo Vecchio? March 4, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    Cobblers: a UFO in Palazzo Vecchio?

    The Madonna col bambino e san Giovannino was painted in a hazy month sometime at the end of the fifteenth century. It hangs today in a corner room on the highest story of Palazzo Vecchio. Its artist – the work is ascribed to Sebastiano Mainardi, Jacopo del Sellaio or one of half a dozen other […]

    Bierce’s Second Act February 18, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Bierce's Second Act

    Poor F. Scott Fitzgerald claimed, in a novel that he could not finish, that there are no second acts in American lives. However, Beachcombing has always wondered about a possible exception in Ambrose ‘Bitter’ Bierce ‘the Devil’s lexographer’, short-story writer, journalist, poet, sceptic and general stand-up guy. Bierce had, by any standards, an undeservedly crappy […]

    Childhood, Memory and Lies February 15, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Childhood, Memory and Lies

      Beachcombing usually limits autobiography in this blog to the absolute minimum: just enough to give a blurred soap opera of his life. However, today, in part to celebrate his ninth anniversary with Mrs B and in part because, as previous posts have shown, he is obsessed by the limits of memory, he has decided […]

    Prospero the Etruscan and Lying Historians February 13, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Modern
    Prospero the Etruscan and Lying Historians

    Liars and history go together like a horse and carriage. Beachcombing gave a chance reference to Herodotus as ‘Father of Lies’ in yesterday’s post. ‘Pseudo-‘ and ‘Mythic-History’, typically found in tribal societies, are porkies by modern standards. But most interestingly, at least for Beachcombing, are the scholars/antiquarians who betray the very rules that they claim themselves to […]

    Total Eclipse February 12, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Contemporary, Modern
    Total Eclipse

      A reader – Moonman to friends – has written in to remind Beachcombing of the old ‘cover thy face’ trick whereby ‘the civilised’ with knowledge of an eclipse, show their power over the elements by ‘ordering’ the sun to disappear in the presence of the unenlightened. Beachcombing knows this trick from Hergé’s Prisoners of […]

    Diodorus’ Island February 10, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    Diodorus' Island

    Perhaps next to Forgotten Kingdoms Beachcombing should set up a tag on Invisible Kingdoms: realms that very likely only ever existed in the imagination of ancient and medieval writers. There would be Atlantis, of course, the land of Prester John, the Seven Cities of Gold and El Dorado. And to these it would be a cinch […]

    Atlantean ‘Flying Boats’ February 7, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Modern
    Atlantean 'Flying Boats'

    Beachcombing sometimes likes to jot down contents lists for books that he will never write: a further rather melancholy contribution to his Invisible Library collection. He has recently been playing around with Old Atlantis: A Miscellany of Atlantean Madness. The work would have three parts: a bibliography of every book every written on the lost Continent – […]

    Lavoisier Blinks February 6, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Lavoisier Blinks

    Today a continuation of the decapitation series with the life and unusual death of Antoine-Laurent de Lavoisier (1794). Lavoisier was a dreamy French chemist responsible, in part, for the metric system and a few other crimes against humanity (‘hydrogen’, the elementary table…). The facts of Lavoisier’s death are, meanwhile, suitably enough, a mix of brutal […]

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