jump to navigation
  • In Search of Misha’al August 3, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    In Search of Misha'al

    Misha’al bint Fahd al Saud was a princess who was, 15 July 1977, shot several times in the head in a carpark in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia 1977: Misha’al was the granddaughter of Muhammad bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, the power behind the Saudi throne and one of the original Saudi playboys. Moments after Misha’al’s death her […]

    Two Prison Faces April 16, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Two Prison Faces

    There have recently emerged a selection of Edwardian mugshots from North Shields, an industrial town in the grimiest part of the industrial north: lots of Beach’s ancestors came from this part of the world and had to fight to get out. Leenks has put up the individuals in question with the following comment: ‘When looking […]

    Lenin Meets the Bandits April 9, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Uncategorized
    Lenin Meets the Bandits

    19 January 1919, a wonderful moment where Lenin almost got offed by the forces he had created. On this day, Lenin, Chabanov, his bodyguard, and Maria, Lenin’s sister were driving with bourgeos ostentation on the outskirts of Moscow. At a railway bridge they were stopped, however, by three armed men, that Lenin and Chabanov assumed were […]

    Selling Children in the 1800s March 10, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Selling Children in the 1800s

    An amazing report from Oldham, 1888: On Monday evening a woman about 40 years of age was seen in Curzon Street with two children, one in arms, and the other, about three years old, walking by her side. From what transpired it appeared that the woman wanted to sell her children, and thereupon a large […]

    Hair Harvests and Hair Theft February 27, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Hair Harvests and Hair Theft

    The hair harvest was the trick of selling your beautiful head of hair, an option open to hirsute young women, to the local barber for a sovereign (or somewhat less). The practice was common enough in Victorian Britain that it appears in a Hardy novel, The Woodlanders, where Marty lops off her hair and sells […]

    The Ripper and Thieves’ Candles November 4, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The Ripper and Thieves' Candles

    The thieves’ candle is a longstanding tradition in Britain, America and, indeed, throughout the western world. Usually the candle was the hand of a dead man with one or more of the fingers made into candles. These candles were supposed to provide safety, invisiblity and be able to cast sleep spells on victims. For example, […]

    Punishing Suicide August 24, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Punishing Suicide

    If you attempt to commit suicide today (and you survive) you will be treated with sympathy by your family and friends: if the state interests itself in your case it will be to offer mental health assistance or to prevent a repetition by some other means. The contrast, in the UK and other common law […]

    Fairies, Arson and Banknotes in Co. Donegal March 6, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Fairies, Arson and Banknotes in Co. Donegal

    One of the great things about fairies in traditional communities is that they make for the perfect alibi. If someone pushes down the landlord’s fence then, of course, it was the fairies that did it. If a man is a beaten out walking along a midnight lane then the fairies did it. If a boy […]

    Dreams of Murder June 29, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Dreams of Murder

    Telepathy is a curious concept and not the least curious part of this most curious ability is the inability to properly document it. However, in the annals of telepathy (so-called or imaginary, factual and always elusive) some of the most interesting cases have involved dreams and murder: ‘murder will out’ in a bouquet of pink […]

    Sex, Teachers and Students June 27, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite
    Sex, Teachers and Students

    ***To Bilker*** A long argument last night about the Jeremy Forrest case with an old friend and a post that strays from the pleasantly brambled paths of history, though not, sadly, from the red brick road of education. For those outside the UK Jeremy Forrest was a twenty-nine-year-old teacher who had an affair with his […]

    More Kopenicks November 23, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    More Kopenicks

    Was it only a couple of week’s ago that Beach described the immortal achievement of Wihelm Vogit in Kopenick? A confidence trickster essentially took a German town hostage by putting on a captain’s uniform. At the time Beach noted the way that the British particularly were insufferable in blaming Prussia’s blind obedience to authority. Since […]

    The Greatest Heist in History? The Captain of Kopenick November 7, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The Greatest Heist in History? The Captain of Kopenick

    Much has Beach travelled in the realms of criminal gold. But rarely has he come across a villain of the quality of Wilhelm  Voigt (obit 1922): the Captain of Kopenick. Let’s begin with the shocked aftermath and then follow Voigt back through one of the most daring robberies in history. 17 October 1906 the German […]

    A-Z of Thuggery November 6, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
    A-Z of Thuggery

    Beachcombing has been letting his dark side take charge this Saturday evening, while Mrs B. gets ready for mass, reviewing some of the fascinating Victorian literature on the thugs. The thugs, for the uninitiated, were, of course, the Indian sect whose members, in secret, and often without knowledge of their families, murdered travellers. They would […]