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  • 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 […]

    Escaping the Guillotine March 4, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Escaping the Guillotine

    Capital punishment: it’s been a while. Beachcombing was thinking about close escapes from death penalty. There are two types of these, of course: either royal screw ups on the part of executioners or daring escapes at the point of death.  The first category would include John Lee and a few others who somehow survived a […]

    Witty Gravestones February 26, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Witty Gravestones

    One of those difficult days. Two of Beachcombing three sources of income have wobbled in a single six hour span and Beach answered an obnoxious email from one of his ‘managers’ with an even more obnoxious email. Anyway, quite how he got from these troubles to gravestones he can’t remember. But he did spend a […]

    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 […]

    De Gaulle and Ike at Gettysburg January 26, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    De Gaulle and Ike at Gettysburg

    One of Beachcombing’s many files in the rusty filing cabinet in the downstairs bathroom is a surprisingly bulky: ‘battlefields after the fact’. Here there are a series of great men and women visiting the places of carnage past and reflecting on ‘the father of all things’. There are many precious references in said file including […]

    Ecdicius and the Eighteen January 25, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    Ecdicius and the Eighteen

    Beachcombing’s recent description of the Roman end times – the grinding to dust of Roman civilisation in the fifth century – got him musing on one of his favourite decline and fall scenes. The following is a letter from Sidonius Apollinaris (obit 489) to his brother-in-law Ecdicius.  He is remembering the moment some months or […]

    Review: The Discovery of Jeanne Baret January 21, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Review: The Discovery of Jeanne Baret

    In 1766 Jeanne Baret, a young Burgundian, joined a round-the-world trip, a French mission to claim territory in the Pacific and Indian oceans. Her experiences, the subject of a recent book by Glynis Ridley, would have been remarkable in itself given her gender and the date. But as the French navy did not allow women […]

    Napoleon in a Pot January 16, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Napoleon in a Pot

    Anyone who love history has a little black list of people they would have gladly have seen choked at birth: Hitler, Ida Amin, Verdi… Fairly close to the top of Beachcombing’s is that jumped-up world destroyer Napoleon Bonaparte, a man who ‘could by industrious valour climb/ To ruin the work of time/ And cast the […]

    Dunkirk and Golden Bridges December 13, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Dunkirk and Golden Bridges

    Dunkirk is one of those moments in recent history that you have to look at sideways to have even a modest chance of understanding and still then there is something that defies analysis. How was it that the British Expeditionary Force, demoralized, bloodied and on the run, with the greatest army of the twentieth century […]

    Gunfire in Notre Dame November 9, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Gunfire in Notre Dame

    A wibt (wish I’d been there) moment in a snatch of about five minutes as Mrs B is still far away from home and Beachcombing has to undertake full babysitting duties for his two terrifying daughters. 26 August 1944, after four long years of Nazi occupation, Paris is liberated by Allied troops and marching into […]

    A Seventeenth-Century Icarus October 25, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern