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  • Casualties and Memory September 3, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Casualties and Memory

    This post was written as a response to a memory that has been whirling around and around in the last few days. The only time Beach ever saw his grandmother – a fine old English matron – weep was when she talked about the First World War. She had, in fact, no direct experience of […]

    Eating Prisoners of War? Ten Thousand Years of ‘I Surrender’ August 29, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Contemporary, Medieval, Modern, Prehistoric
    Eating Prisoners of War? Ten Thousand Years of 'I Surrender'

    ***This post is dedicated to A.G. who sent in the following question*** A.G. writes ‘I have often wondered what happened to the wounded left behind during the Napoleonic wars and earlier.  Did the locals come along and kill them for their personal belongings, were they cared for and held for ransom, what? I am speaking […]

    Prolific Souvestre and Allain August 24, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Prolific Souvestre and Allain

    Beachcombing is back from his time at the top of the mountain. His ‘restful’ reading material there included Pierre Souvestre and Marcel Allain’s Fantômas, the first in a series of French pulp novels from the teens of the last century. For those who have not been initiated Fantômas is a master criminal who works without […]

    Prussians in the Frame: Brownies Out August 22, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Prussians in the Frame: Brownies Out

    Beach often shows his students WW1 and WW2 photographs in class. He lets the effect wash over them and then breaks that effect by asking them why the photograph is staged. For most of the best shots from the world wars are the invention or, at very best, the ‘reconstruction’ of photographers who were far […]

    Capital Punishment Cobblers August 19, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Capital Punishment Cobblers

    A cute little story from France a country which seems to attract a lot of urban myths around judicial execution: the majesty of the guillotine? Many years ago, a celebrated French physician, author of an excellent work on the effects of Imagination, wished to combine theory with practice, in order to confirm the truth of […]

    See But Can’t Touch August 15, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
    See But Can't Touch

    Beach travelled by plane earlier this summer with little Miss B to the UK. Aged just four his daughter marvelled as she looked out of the window at the cloudlands that stretched away in every direction: Beach remembers a similar marvelling when he was about ten and went on his first long plane journey. Things […]

    Queens On Top (or not?) August 3, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
    Queens On Top (or not?)

    Beach has been waxing lyrical a lot about monarchy recently: there was Charles I with his head sewn back on (the bastards!), then there was environment vs the hereditary principle (or perhaps better environment within the hereditary principle) and today we come to queens. Queens, you’ve got to love them. For is it Beachcombing’s imagination […]

    Creative Pretexts for War July 2, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Prehistoric
    Creative Pretexts for War

    In the good old days when we had spears and lived in tribal societies war was, for much of humanity, a seasonal activity like boar hunting and berry picking. You did not have to explain why you wanted to steal the cattle of the clan on the other side of the hill: you just got […]

    The Virgin and the Fairies June 28, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    The Virgin and the Fairies

    The last fairy post for a week, we promise… Beach has noted previously here the danger of confusing fairy sightings with UFO sightings. But, as a lot of his work this summer has concerned medieval records, he realises that confusion is nothing new where fairies are concerned. There is, 500 AD – 1700 AD, the […]

    All Hail the Male Witch! June 21, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
    All Hail the Male Witch!

    Why were witches, in the early modern period, women? The simple answer is that they were not. In all parts of Europe there were male witches and in some part of Europe male witches (witch = those put on trial for that crime) outnumbered narrowly or substantially the number of female witches. So at one […]

    Decapitation Gone Wrong in China, c. 1900 June 15, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
    Decapitation Gone Wrong in China, c. 1900

    ***Gruesome post warning*** Bad day? Children sick? Feel a bit depressed? Dog ate your laptop? Then do yourself a favour and move on. The following includes some very unpleasant details from a Chinese execution c. 1900, when medieval lingchi (death by cutting) was still in operation. The following execution was not planned as lingchi but […]

    Germany über Alles? June 11, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Germany über Alles?

    According to many paranoid British and French scholars the history of the last century and a half has been the story of Germany’s attempt to dominate continental Europe. It began with Napoleon III giving up his sword to Bismarck in 1870 and has continued down to the present day with Germany’s EU plotting.  Is there […]

    Exclaves! June 4, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite, Contemporary, Modern
    Exclaves!

    A strange post today – just for a change… Beach has recently been troubled by the Kaliningrad Oblast, a peculiar bit of Russian territory that stands several hundred kilometres to the west of the Russian frontiers. Now an exclave of Russian life on the borders of Poland and Lithuania, Kalingrad would be just the kind […]

    The Babel of History May 2, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
    The Babel of History

      The past according to a much worn-line is ‘a foreign country, they do things differently there’. Of course, if this were all then history would be a doddle. It would be enough to fill the Cutty Sark with sabres and give the natives music sheets for their acres. But, unfortunately for those who like […]

    Icelandic Penis Collections, Gnome Sanctuaries and Other Unusual Museums April 3, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite, Contemporary
    Icelandic Penis Collections, Gnome Sanctuaries and Other Unusual Museums

    Beachcombing was in his early teens on holiday in Cornwall when he went to the Gnome Museum. There was a very likeable hippy in her early forties (?) who ran the place and showed Beach and family around a couple of rooms and the garden where she had ‘seen’ the gnomes: there had been some […]

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