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Hari-Kiri at the Hague? April 4, 2014

Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
Hari-Kiri at the Hague?

In 1907 three Korean representatives travelled to the Netherlands to persuade the powers meeting at the Hague Peace Conference to revoke Japanese hegemony over Korea. Their leader was Yi Jun (aka Ri Jun, Yi Chun, pictured left) and he and his two colleagues were devastated to learn, upon arrival, that they would not even be […]

A Bugged Conversation from June 1945? May 26, 2013

Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
A Bugged Conversation from June 1945?

***Dedicated to Cristiano and the memory of his old friend Johann Elser*** In the 1930s and the 1940s Britain boasted perhaps the best intelligence services in the world, with only the Soviets as rivals. SIS (aka MI6) operated throughout the Empire but also in allied and potential enemy countries to great effect. When World War […]

The Empire of Claus December 26, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
The Empire of Claus

Who is the ruler of Christmas? Santa Claus, of course. But the red bearded one has climbed over a lot of dead bodies to get to where he is today. And every so often when you travel around western countries you find traces of Christmases past. In Spain, for example, and, indeed, through much of […]

The Inventio Fortunata: A Lost Medieval Journey to the Arctic North November 20, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
The Inventio Fortunata: A Lost Medieval Journey to the Arctic North

The Inventio Fortunata sometimes written the Inventio Fortunae (likely a mistaken amendment by an over anxious sixteenth-century author) is one of the most extraordinary documents NOT to come down to us from posterity. It was written in the fourteenth century, either at sea or in England, by a friar for the King of England, Edward […]

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 […]

In Praise of the Hindoestanen February 29, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
In Praise of the Hindoestanen

Beachcombing has run, over the months, a series of forgotten kingdom posts: lands and peoples that time forgot. Sometimes he has stretched this definition to its elastic limit by including forgotten communities: a personal favourite, for example, were the Confederates who fled from Lincoln’s peace and came to settle in Brazil. Another group that he […]

Escapes, Wives and Cases October 21, 2011

Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
Escapes, Wives and Cases

A reflection on escapees. Beachcombing  was brought up in the shadow of the Second World War where escape stories were  nutrition for a growing boy. Then he made the mistake of reading the Count of Monte Cristo at an impressionable age. Are there any more exciting pages in fiction than Edmond’s fake funeral? Beach can […]

Boiling mice in the name of history October 3, 2010

Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
Boiling mice in the name of history

It is widely known, Beachcombing believes, that the Romans ate dormice. Despite sumptuary laws forbidding the practice – dormice were an indulgence – they were fattened in gardens and kept in winter in a glirarium (a large ceramic jar) to prevent them hibernating (and becoming thin…). They were then cooked, stuffed with  pine kernels, garum, […]