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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 […]

Highest Placed Spy August 2, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
Highest Placed Spy

And so it begins… Mrs B woke up at 5.00 am this morning and took darling daughters and aupair to the sea for at least a week. Beach is going to relax today and then from tomorrow do some serious MANLY writing. (He will only really relax when he learns that Italian motorways have not […]

Genetics vs Environment among Monarchs July 31, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
Genetics vs Environment among Monarchs

There is a phrase that’s trotted out from time to time that monarchs are simply the descendants of those who killed lots of people and as such deserve little respect and certainly no adulation. Of course, it is true that monarchs are the descendants of those who killed many people. But what really matters is […]

The Crown of the Queen of Serpents July 21, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
The Crown of the Queen of Serpents

A curious little episode from a very obscure English autobiography. The individual being described here is August de Haxthausen (obit 1866), friend of the brothers Grimm.  De Haxthausen ended up in Britain in the 1840s in the house of a little girl, Janet Ross, who would become one of Beach’s favourite cookery book writers: but […]

Bomber Command and War Guilt July 9, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
Bomber Command and War Guilt

One of the most terrifying statistics of the Second World War is that more died in planes flying out of British airfields than in British cities. Leaving the US out of this around 60,000 British and Dominion aircrew were killed defending British airspace or attacking enemy territory. About 40,000 British civilians, meanwhile, died in the […]

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 […]

Crowds #2: Speaking to Crowds June 18, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
Crowds #2: Speaking to Crowds

W.B.Yeats once wrote that the most important thing for a ‘man’ was, in his day, no longer a sword but a tongue to speak to the masses. Yeats was living in an age when that was still true. Microphones were allowing the amplification of voices and transport meant that a politician or preacher could travel […]

Worthless Currencies June 12, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite, Contemporary
Worthless Currencies

As Beach writes Mrs B is travelling on a plane to [first destination deleted] to open a bank account in [second destination deleted] to get the Beachcombing family ‘fortune’ (ahem) as far as possible from the Euro Zone. It may or may not work as, while the Italian State has provided lots of identification documents, […]

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 […]

Admiral Byrd and Nazi Cobblers June 6, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
Admiral Byrd and Nazi Cobblers

***Dedicated to KMH who, not for the first time, inspired the hunt*** The following is the record of an interview with American admiral Richard Byrd which appeared in El Mercurio, a Chilean paper, 5 March 1947: it was written by a US journalist, Lee Van Atta, but seems never to have been published in English. […]

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 […]

Welsh Pre-Marital Sex, c. 1850 May 11, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
Welsh Pre-Marital Sex, c. 1850

A German tourist in Wales in the 1850s. Our hero befriends, Sarah the girl of the house where he is staying and on whom, Beach suspects, he had something of a crush. However, Sarah, who is the only member of the house who can speak English, is walking out with Owen, the elder son of […]

Aggressive Ghost in Fourteenth-Century Germany May 8, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
Aggressive Ghost in Fourteenth-Century Germany

Beach is taking a long trip today on a plane with his three-year-old daughter: a first visit to the patria with Little Miss B who is thrilled because she is going to see otters AND eat fish and chips. In this time of holiday and reduced writing he has lined up several reserve posts taken […]

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 […]

Singing Enemy Songs: Lili Marleen April 13, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
Singing Enemy Songs: Lili Marleen

One of the most moving moments in cinema is the extraordinary ending of Kubrick’s Paths of Glory. A young German girl is pulled in front of a crowd of French soldiers and forced to sing. The poilu mock her but as she nervously begins  the mood changes. The soldiers join in and drown her anxious, […]

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