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  • A Fourteen-Month Pregnancy in Nineteenth-century Cornwall? October 25, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    A Fourteen-Month Pregnancy in Nineteenth-century Cornwall?

    Polperro Press is a small publishing house that produces excellent quality monographs on Cornish themes. If every town of this size – Polperro is an idyllic Cornish port – had a book producing company of a third of this quality historians would be able to give up their day jobs: history, at least western history, […]

    How Cats Create Neurotic Societies September 15, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite
    How Cats Create Neurotic Societies

    ***Dedicated to Paschal*** Cats, it has been so long… The last cat tag was about cat clocks back in February, before that it was dried cats in 2011 and then there was cat burial in Iceland, black cats and luck and musical instruments that employ cats. But, thinking of today’s post, how can cats create […]

    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 […]

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