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  • 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 […]

    Irish hang-women January 17, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Irish hang-women

    Richard Clark in his remarkable Capital Punishment in Britain has a story that has been buzzing around and around in Beachcombing’s head for the last six months. In his chapter on hang-men RC notes, in a final short section, that ‘Ireland allowed women to be involved with executions and two were’. He records a female assistant executioner who […]

    Atlantis in the Far East January 15, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Contemporary
    Atlantis in the Far East

    Naive Beachcombing set out in an earlier post his ambition to create a list of all the locations in the world that have been claimed over the years as the ‘true’ Atlantis. However, while writing this piece over Christmas he ran into a problem that he had not frankly anticipated. There are just so many places that […]

    The Ass Who Became a Saint January 13, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The Ass Who Became a Saint

    Yesterday Beachcombing visited the doghead legend of St Christopher and today, in sympathy for that early canine holyman he thought that he would recount the remarkable canonization of an ass. The version that Beachcoming is about to give appears in a rather obscure but very worthwhile book: The Life and Adventures of Nathaniel Pearce (1831) describing the doings of […]

    The Dog-Headed Saint January 12, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Medieval
    The Dog-Headed Saint

      St Christopher is in many ways a typical early eastern saint. He was for many years a prisoner of war: check. He was a Roman soldier when he turned to Christ: check. His staff miraculously took to life and began to bloom: check. An angel – Raphael no less – gave him the gift of speaking […]

    Jean Hill Misremembering Kennedy November 30, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Jean Hill Misremembering Kennedy

      What lying dogs we are! Beachcombing is referring to humanity’s extraordinary ability to warp and deform both our immediate perception of the world and also our memories of those perceptions. You don’t believe Beachcombing? Then take the extraordinary case of Jean Hill (obit 2000). Jean – aka ‘the Lady in Red’ – was an […]

    Dear Lord and Father: Songs Against Songs November 29, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Dear Lord and Father: Songs Against Songs

    Music is strangely resistant to bizzarism. Certainly, after years of reading Beachcombing has only about five pages of scribbled  notes on music in an exercise book and most of those about rock, pop and other post-war perversions. Did Mozart, Purcell, Bach and the rest never get up to anything peculiar? It does not seem possible and yet their […]

    French Kisses, Guinea Pigs and the Spanish vice November 13, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    French Kisses, Guinea Pigs and the Spanish vice

    Beachcombing had a terrifying dream last night. A great voice told him to find a bizarre story on turkeys, presumably one of the last shadows of his recent obsession with birds? Beachcombing has decided, however, not to do so because his subconscious has, frankly, been getting on his nerves in the last weeks. Instead, Beachombing is going to look at […]

    Baby-Eating Eagles November 5, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
    Baby-Eating Eagles

    When Beachcombing first came to Italy, many years ago, he spent a summer in a room with an enormous wardrobe – the stuff of C.S. Lewis fantasies. This wardrobe was not only huge, but it also had a memorable print on the front. An eagle was being attacked by a weepy mother and in the […]

    The Parrots of the Atures November 2, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The Parrots of the Atures

      Since beginning this blog five months ago Beachcombing has noticed a monotonous pattern. He takes out a long-treasured fragment of bizarre history, all fired up to write a cracking whiz-bang post. And then, when he comes to triple-check the facts, he discovers that the event never happened – that it was based on a misunderstanding […]

    The Made-Up Battle of Karánsebes October 28, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The Made-Up Battle of Karánsebes

    Wishing to distract himself from various home traumas Beachcombing thought that he would write today on one of his favourite ‘cobbler’ (tosh, nonsense) reports of all time: the Battle of Karansebes (Karánsebes for the minority who like accents on their conflicts). Here’s the game-plan. Beachcombing will start with the facts, move on to the legend […]

    Getting the Future Wrong: Book titles October 20, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Getting the Future Wrong: Book titles

    Beachcombing is in disgrace this morning. Friends of his from Britain, Pascal and Pascal’s wife Small Coloured Thing have been planning a jaunt over to Italy and Beachcombing’s home there. This was a cause of great celebration two weeks ago when the holiday was agreed upon. But then Beachcombing was so overwhelmed by mid-term exams […]

    Druidic Ravens at the Tower of London? October 10, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
    Druidic Ravens at the Tower of London?

    Beachcombing got an email this week from a Canadian history student. ‘Seeing as you seem to have knowledge of historical things quite off the beaten track I thought I’d seek some historic tourism advice. I’m a Canadian history student and over Christmas I’ll be travelling to London. I plan on a doing a couple of […]

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