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John Farkas: Fire Boy! April 20, 2014

Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
John Farkas: Fire Boy!

John Farkas’ name seems to have flared up very briefly in history and then to have died down again just as quickly. Many of the things associated with John (Janos?) were, let’s say, poltergeist tricks and not that remarkable. But what about the fire? Note that this newsreport dates to 1921 and appeared in the […]

Totalitarian Bizarreness August 29, 2013

Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite, Contemporary
Totalitarian Bizarreness

Beach isn’t a big fan of totalitarian regimes, but in the defence of those sorry little (and occasionally big) regimes they do make for bizarre news stories. For example, the rumour is just coming in, via South Korea, that the Great Leader in the north has wiped out much of NK’s pop singing community. Among […]

Forgotten Kingdoms: The Gagauz and Identity Problems July 24, 2013

Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
Forgotten Kingdoms: The Gagauz and Identity Problems

Eastern Europe is full of unexpected populations. But few are as fun as the Gagauz,  a proud and ancient people, based in what is today southern Moldova. Of course, most modern westerners have never heard of Moldova – historically part of Romania – let alone that country’s tiny minority in the south. But the Gagauz […]

Review: Walter Starkie, Raggle Taggle September 19, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
Review: Walter Starkie, Raggle Taggle

When Beach first picked up Walter Starkie’s Raggle-Taggle: Adentures with a Fiddle in Hungary and Roumania (1947) he was looking for a reference to fairies. The book was to be a literary one night stand: 300 closely printed sides, ten minutes of flicking. But already in ‘the Preface to New Edition’ a more serious relationship […]

Negosanu and the Countess September 7, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
 Negosanu and the Countess

The following story relates to events in the late nineteenth century. It is about a place that Beach has visited from time to time; though no one, he is sad to report, has ever asked to feel his muscles there. The hero is a huge gypsy from Romania: Negosanu. Let’s hope that the tale is […]

Undead in Bulgaria June 7, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
Undead in Bulgaria

Beachcombing has celebrated deviant burials on several previous occasions in the past. There was, for example, only last week, the children immured (allegedly) in the foundations of a bridge. And then there were the various attempts to silence the dead from the Middle Ages. There were the criminals killed (and often dug into) prehistoric mounds and who could […]

Deviant Burials September 19, 2011

Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
Deviant Burials

The dead are prepared for the after life in almost every way imaginable. In some cases they are eaten, in some cases they are burnt, in some cases they are fed to animals, in some cases they are embalmed and in some cases they are buried in the ground. Beach has not yet come across […]

The Last Foodtaster in History? March 11, 2011

Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Medieval
The Last Foodtaster in History?

  Beachcombing has long thought that food tasting must have been among the very cushiest jobs to have had in the Middle Ages. Why? (i) No one is going to be stupid enough to kill a monarch or a duke by poisoning their food if they know there’s a taster around. You are safe. Beachcombing doubts there’s […]

The Made-Up Battle of Karánsebes October 28, 2010

Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
The Made-Up Battle of Karánsebes

Wishing to distract himself from various home traumas Beachcombing thought that he would write today on one of his favourite ‘cobbler’ (tosh, nonsense) reports of all time: the Battle of Karansebes (Karánsebes for the minority who like accents on their conflicts). Here’s the game-plan. Beachcombing will start with the facts, move on to the legend […]