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  • 1816 Flight Attempt in Paris September 15, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    1816 Flight Attempt in Paris

    Prepare to be humiliated. Your name is Guillaume, the years is 1816, and you have convinced yourself that it is possible to fly with wings attached to your puny arms. Yes, this is the age of balloons, but surely man can climb into the sky practically unassisted? Now you are in a great tradition, a […]

    The Man Who Wore His Wife August 17, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The Man Who Wore His Wife

    You could fill a large book with anecdotes, urban legends and folk tales about rings. Most fall fairly effortlessly into certain categories: lost ring found; ring makes wearer invisible; ring cut from corpse’s finger… However, here is one of its kind: husband wears wife. Beach has had a five day holiday and this was a […]

    Trafficking in Human Fat! August 9, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Trafficking in Human Fat!

    This story came up yesterday after inspired by the werewolf fat story. It is taken from a the Reading Mercury (10 Aug 1831)but was allegedly translated from Annals d’Hygiene Publique. ln the year 1813, a discovery was made in the Schools of Medicine, in Paris, which strongly excited the attention of the professors. The servants […]

    French Werewolves Sell Fat to Glass Factories? August 8, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    French Werewolves Sell Fat to Glass Factories?

    Beach has been messing around with wolves this week and he ran across this reference in relation to the wolf deaths in Dauphiné in the mid eighteenth century. The priest of Primarette wrote a summary of local attitudes to these killings. Enjoy the following: apart obviously from the fact that three kids had been devoured. […]

    Myths of Twentieth-Century History August 6, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Contemporary, Modern
    Myths of Twentieth-Century History

    Seven twentieth century myths follow. Any other contributions or angry rebuttals, drbeachcombing AT yahoo DOT com Great War: A Disaster Waiting to Happen, 1914 The Great War was going to happen sooner or later because two countries, Germany and France, wanted it. However, the consensus that the Great War would have inevitably led to the ‘breaking […]

    Gaston Ouvrieu and Blindfold Driving July 30, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Gaston Ouvrieu and Blindfold Driving

    A delightful end of month story. Our hero is Gaston Ouvrieu who, in 1917, received a serious injury while serving in the French army. When he woke up in hospital he was alleged to be able to read the minds of other patients, as the doctor took his pulse: Ouvrieu needed this ‘telegraph’ effect for […]

    King’s Evil and a Two-Hundred-Year-Old Charm June 29, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    King's Evil and a Two-Hundred-Year-Old Charm

    The King’s Evil (aka scrofula) was a form of tuberculosis that created horrific injuries on the skin’s surface, particular in the neck area. It could only be cured, many early modern French and British sufferers believed, by contact with royalty: a sufferer would go to the king or queen, be touched, and cured. The practice […]

    First Vehicular Suicide? June 19, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    First Vehicular Suicide?

    Beach read this story, tried to forget it but couldn’t. There are two questions. First, did it really happen? 19C British newspapers are usually quite reliable, but 19C French newspapers are not. If this had been clipped from a French newspaper it could have been a complete invention, it would be interesting to see whether […]

    The Male Midwives Called Peter and the Empty Box Trick June 17, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The Male Midwives Called Peter and the Empty Box Trick

    The Chamberlen brothers were first generation French Hugenots whose father had fled to Britain in 1569: one brother Peter was born in Paris (1560) and the other brother Peter was born in Southampton (1572). Yes, you read that right. Two sons and both were called Peter: a fair introduction to a very unusual family. (And […]

    Evans Wentz and Sex May 4, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Evans Wentz and Sex

    Beach has had talked about Walter and his thesis, Walter and the fairies, Walter and money, now is it is time for Walter with no clothes on: Walter Yeeling Evans Wentz’s sexual habits.  At this point we better recite the ritual ‘not that there is anything wrong with that’. Beach has absolutely no interest in […]

    Evans Wentz’s Quest for Fairies May 2, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Evans Wentz's Quest for Fairies

    Beach has recently become interested in Walter Yeeling Evans Wentz (or Evans-Wentz as he became)* the American mystic who in his late twenties and early thirties researched Breton, British and Irish fairies, before running off to India to become a guru. Many readers will know Evans Wentz for his Fairy Faith In Celtic Countries, the […]

    The Mason’s Worst Task April 2, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The Mason's Worst Task

    This story has haunted Beach more than any other in the last month. Is it true, fiction or an inspired urban legend? In either case it would be a brilliant detective story. Beach was reminded of Sherlock Holmes and the Engineer’s Thumb (pub 1892). It appeared in 1894 in the Wicklow People (11 Aug). Enjoy […]

    Was Napoleon III an American?! February 7, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Was Napoleon III an American?!

    Beach has already proved (to no one least of all his own satisfaction) that Napoleon III survived death. But Beach now discovers, to his horror, that Napoleon III was not Napoleon III. This story appeared in the American press in 1858. This was a story given by one Louise Mercier on her sick bed in 1853. […]

    Breaking the Ampoule January 23, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
    Breaking the Ampoule

    A WIBT moment from eighteenth-century France: the collision of the hoary old with the bright-eyed, metallic and ghastly new. It involves a cathedral, a hammer and the crystal fragments of a Roman perfume bottle, the Sainte Ampoule, one of the longest continuously used objects in world history. This tiny flacon had been made in the late Roman […]

    Review: Postwar November 22, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Review: Postwar

    Tony Judt is often touted as one of the great historians of the later twentieth century. Yet really his writings are, with one exception, not the stuff that world reputations are made on The Burden of Responsibility: Blum, Camus, Aron, and the French Twentieth Century or Socialism in Provence 1871–1914: A Study in the Origins […]

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