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Are Societies What They Eat? September 11, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
Are Societies What They Eat?

There is no question that food and drink change us. If you begin to drink two litres of coca-cola a day, instead of a litre of fizzy water or if you start chewing on cocoa leaves instead of making banana smoothies your family will quickly notice a difference. Here there is and can be no […]

Gluten, Famine and the Slow Crawl of Medical Knowledge August 20, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Contemporary, Modern
Gluten, Famine and the Slow Crawl of Medical Knowledge

***Beach wants to salute his readers for a couple of days as he is going on his yearly retreat (hermit’s cave etc): he’ll see you on the other side, if the wolves don’t come*** Wheat is the grain of the west. The crop that has followed Europeans wherever they have gone for the simple reason […]

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 […]

Protestantism, Statues and Sore Breasts/Fronts August 13, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
Protestantism, Statues and Sore Breasts/Fronts

***Those idiots at the internet company are playing their games again: the signal ebbs and flows, apologies that this is late then and expect further disturbances*** A week ago now Beach mentioned the Devon folklorist Miss Theo Brown, a great talent who published in the 1960s. He was particularly interested to read yesterday an article […]

Mad Cures: Sore Throats and Currents July 10, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
Mad Cures: Sore Throats and Currents

C. 1900 you have a nasty sore throat that won’t go away. A friend tells you that there is a new treatment in town for only three dollars, five if you stay at home and the practitioner comes to your house with ‘the machine’. And what exactly does this  ‘new’ treatment entail, you ask innocently? […]

Hippocratic Cobblers. February 15, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Contemporary, Modern
Hippocratic Cobblers.

***Dedicated to good and honest doctors: a pox on the others…*** Beachcombing has suffered greatly under the tyranny of white-coats over the years: blame a long undiagnosed and thus untreated condition – uncovered eventually after about ten minutes on Wikipedia. He has come then to expect problems in the medical sector. But nothing prepared him […]

Medieval and Ancient Rats January 18, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Medieval
Medieval and Ancient Rats

One of the mysteries of the Black Death in the Middle Ages is how the victims never – with one curious Scandinavian exception – cottoned on to the fact that rodents, particularly rats were disease bearers. In some cases there were infestations of rats before the disease struck and many rats also died, which should […]

A Surprise at Apple Down Cemetery January 2, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
A Surprise at Apple Down Cemetery

There is a cute game that academics play where the more exciting the results of your research the more boring your abstract must be. Take the following tedious example from the 2011 American Journal of Physical Anthropology. Read through the miasma of low-key, lead on sentences and consider what an extraordinary discovery has allegedly been […]

Cannibalism and Syphilis December 16, 2011

Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
Cannibalism and Syphilis

Syphilis (unless, of course, you have the misfortune to be a sufferer) is one of the most interesting of illnesses. Historians still, for example, argue about whether it crossed from Europe to the Americas or whether, on the contrary, it was a gift from the New to the Old World: the balance of opinion seems […]

Agony at the Dentists October 7, 2011

Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
Agony at the Dentists

Beachcombing went to the dentist this morning and had the inside of one of his teeth removed: apparently too many peanut, honey and banana sandwiches are bad for you… But, in the inevitable passing-the-time-of-day conversation between scoops of tooth, something interesting came up – pain control. Beach had noticed in his last trips that dentists […]

Hildegard’s Headaches September 23, 2011

Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
Hildegard's Headaches

***Dedicated to Moonman who got Beach thinking about this*** Hildegard of Bingen, monastic reformer, abbess and all round good egg, regularly had visions. These visions were at the very centre of her intellectual and spiritual existence. They gave her the courage to share her unique theology of the world with others: she believed that they […]

Giving Birth in a Coffin June 18, 2011

Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
Giving Birth in a Coffin

Beachcombing has recently been toying around with the idea of a publication on ‘buried alive’ stories from Boccaccio to Poe. It would be a short volume, but one that would keep most of us awake past our bedtimes. Any suggestions for vaguely literate buried-alive tales please contact: drbeachcombing AT yahoo DOT com Beachcombing has got […]

The Last Unicorn in Medicine February 16, 2011

Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
The Last Unicorn in Medicine

One of the most important things about mythical animals is that they are ‘rare’. Being rare means that anything to do with them is valuable and in previous ages that meant that their body parts were (a) good for showing off and (b) dragged into the world of medicine. Unicorns were particularly appreciated in medicinal […]

C-section by Banana Wine December 19, 2010

Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
C-section by Banana Wine

  Beachcombing is going to break several rules today. First, he is going to write on the same topic two days in a row: apologies, apologies, but the C-section question has even excited him out of his recent Atlantis itch. Then, second, he is writing two posts on the same day. This is in part natural […]

First C-section and Pig Gelding December 18, 2010

Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Medieval, Modern
First C-section and Pig Gelding

Beachcombing is presently watching his beloved village disappear under that ghastly white stuff called snow. Mrs B., meanwhile, is running around with Little Miss B. upstairs in a state of wide-eyed childish bliss. She seems to have forgotten that, given she is now eight and a half months pregnant and given that the nearest hospital is […]

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