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How To Create A Golden Age: Instructions for Use January 27, 2014

Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
How To Create A Golden Age: Instructions for Use

There are grey moments in history and there are black moments and, then, every so often there are wonderful conflagarations as the very paper that the past is written upon catches fire. Think the sheer brilliant evenescence of Athens in the fifth-century B.C.; Baghdad in the ninth century; or, indeed, Florence in the fourteenth and […]

The Duke, His Brother and the Locomotive December 9, 2013

Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
The Duke, His Brother and the Locomotive

Great story, recently found, relating to the Spanish Civil War, presumably 1938. The narrator, of Jewish descent, has fled anschluss and arrived in Paris, en route to more permanent exile in the UK. I had run into Duke Dantin when he was a refugee in Paris, during the Spanish Civil War, he had fled from […]

Love Goddess #7: The I-Love-You Wall February 23, 2013

Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite
Love Goddess #7: The I-Love-You Wall

The latest in the Love Goddesses series is this wonderful shrine to carnal and spiritual soul-touching that appeared in the city of love, Paris, in Montmartre no less, in 2000. The artist, Frédéric Baron, assembled the words ‘I love you’ in 311 languages (280 by some counts) and then got a colleague and ‘oriental calligrapher’ […]

The Immortal Major Fraser August 4, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
The Immortal Major Fraser

OK here is an atmospheric little passage from a nineteenth-century description of the fifth most beautiful city in the world. Major Fraser, though he never dined there, spent  an hour or two daily in the Estaminet du Divan [in Paris] to read the  papers. He was a great favorite with every one, though none  of […]

Crowds #1: And so it begins… Images from 1914 March 21, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
Crowds #1: And so it begins... Images from 1914

  [students in Berlin, off to enlist] Beachcombing has recently become interested in crowd photography: large groups of people, preferably in rather strange or extreme situations. And as part of this ‘project’ he started collecting photographs from perhaps the dizziest month in western history: August 1914. The war is just beginning and young and not […]

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 […]

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
A Seventeenth-Century Icarus

Another episode in early failed or imaginary flying exploits. The following extracts are from the letters of Marin Mersenne (obit 1648) and were translated (frustratingly Beach doesn’t have the originals to hand) by Hart [132-133]. Enjoy these rumours from Paris from around the middle of the seventeenth century. Here they are talking about a man […]

The Safe Battle at Burnley, 1860 September 2, 2011

Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
The Safe Battle at Burnley, 1860

When we think of vicious advertising campaigns today the chances are we think of burger chains and the cola fraternity. However, back in the nineteenth century across the Western world, the most intense rivalry was perhaps between different safe makers. This was, after all, a period when technology in locks and metal making had grown […]

Head-hunting German Phrenologists August 9, 2011

Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
Head-hunting German Phrenologists

***This post was suggest by Invisible who shares though Beachcombing’s scepticism*** Before plunging into this modern story of head-hunting the reader should be warned. First, the quotations come from a contemporary nineteenth-century English ‘sketch’ (rather than translation) from the French: Jacques Peuchet, Mémoires tirés des Archives de la police de Paris, vol I, 161 ff. […]

Misplacing Masterpieces at Railway Stations April 29, 2011

Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
Misplacing Masterpieces at Railway Stations

Beachcombing heard today that his father – pater Beachcombing – will soon be coming for a visit to the Beachcombing house in Little Snoring – the first time in a couple of years, so a cause of celebration. Beachcombing’s favourite story about his father is that once while travelling by train to his publisher in […]