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  • 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 […]

    Did Christ Exist? April 14, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    Did Christ Exist?

    Beach should start this piece with a disclaimer: he is not a Christian – ‘not that there is anything wrong with that’ – and is unlikely to ever become one. And with this bit of initial hand-wringing out of the way on to today’s question, provoked by some recent internet articles, did Jesus exist? Well, […]

    Churchill, De Gaulle and Waterloo March 15, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Churchill, De Gaulle and Waterloo

    Today a bit of modern British history/myth. Beach will write it out as it was told to him. He would be interested to see whether there is any basis to the tale: it sounds very Churchillian, but it also has the exquisite stench of cobblers. Towards the end of his life Churchill was visited by […]

    Christ’s Execution in a Marble Jar March 6, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Modern
    Christ's Execution in a Marble Jar

    Beachcombing must yet again apologise to his readers for a brief post, but the last exams before spring break need to be corrected (hurrah! hurrah!) and in any case the Huntsville Daily Times (29 Jan 1911: MO) wanted to do all the talking for him. George Carter, son of the late I. M. Carter and […]

    Hippocratic Cobblers. February 15, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Contemporary, Modern
    Hippocratic Cobblers.

    ***Dedicated to good and honest doctors: a pox on the others…*** Beachcombing has suffered greatly under the tyranny of white-coats over the years: blame a long undiagnosed and thus untreated condition – uncovered eventually after about ten minutes on Wikipedia. He has come then to expect problems in the medical sector. But nothing prepared him […]

    August 1914: Surprise or Countdown? February 14, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    August 1914: Surprise or Countdown?

    In western memory, particularly in European memory the guns of August 1914 were a long awaited horror: and while the First World War was so much worse than anyone could have possibly imagined – Beach thinks of an earlier Churchill post on the nineteenth century comparing itself with the twentieth – everyone knew it was […]

    An Overlong Name January 29, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    An Overlong Name

    Another of Beachcombing’s deities died this morning: the small Welsh village of Llanfairpwllgwyngyll-gogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch (Anglesey) well known in Britain as having the longest name in the country, if not the world. Of course, a moment’s consideration should have told Beach that something fishy was going on; instead, he had innocently let the name be, reasoning that […]

    Mermaids, Ahoy! January 14, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Mermaids, Ahoy!

    Beachcombing still hyperventilating from the terrifying task of talking in front of 200 plus ‘new’ students yesterday. Only syllabus writing is worse. Anyway, back to the far more serious task of charting the perversions of the human imagination. Beachcombing had been going to spend the Christmas holidays writing serious academic ‘stuff’ about Marco Polo. But, […]

    Jesus Lived to 114 in Japan! January 11, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Contemporary
    Jesus Lived to 114 in Japan!

    Beach has long been hearing rumours that Jesus Christ was actually buried in an obscure Japanese village of Shingo. But it was only this morning that he finally decided to climb up this particular mountain of madness and see what was really happening up in the mists. According to local ‘tradition’ (always a slippery word) […]

    Lincoln and the Angels December 28, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Lincoln and the Angels

    Beachcombing has previously in this place enjoyed some of the nonsense written about death bed quotes. He thought that, following on with this theme, he would today concentrate on that  memorable room in Petersen House at 7:22 a.m. on April 15, 1865 when Lincoln passed from this world, just hours after John Wilkes Booth had […]

    White Horses, Sex and Sovereignty December 12, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Medieval
    White Horses, Sex and Sovereignty

    Inspired by Southern Man’s comment on yesterday’s post Beach thought he would today quote from some of the passages relating to Irish sovereignty. There was in pre-Norman Ireland the idea that the land is a woman, Sovereignty, who must be courted and seduced by the successful king. Take, for example, this rather tame passage relating […]

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