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  • Escaped Lions March 22, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
    Escaped Lions

    ***Dedicated to Andy the Mad Monk*** Lions are striking animals and it is only natural that, through the ages, zoos and circuses have kept them to impress their clientele. They are also hardy creatures that makes them easier to keep alive than, say, the giraffe or a rhino. But they are dangerous and if they […]

    Pulling Things Out of Rivers March 13, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
    Pulling Things Out of Rivers

    Rivers are useful guardians of the past: often thousands of years roll by (and millions of tonnes of water) before things that have been thrown in are fished out (sometimes literally) several hundred or thousands of years later. Here are Beachcombing’s favourite they-were-found-in-river things. Others would be welcome: drbeachcombing AT yahoo DOT com 1) Claudius’ […]

    From North Carolina to Chad: Families and Food March 10, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite
    From North Carolina to Chad: Families and Food

    An ‘ill’ day with interesting complications in the throat area  so Beach is going to go off topic with this  extraordinary book he recently stumbled upon: Hungry Planet: What the World Eats (Peter Menzel 2005). This exercise in photo-journalism has a fair bit of manipulation behind it: but the idea itself is an extraordinarily simple […]

    Selling (Balkan) Europe by the Pound March 2, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Selling (Balkan) Europe by the Pound

    Beach has pioneered for some time his WIBT (‘wish I’d been there’) series. Those moments in the past where any historically-conscious person would just LOVE to be a half dead bluebottle on the windowsill watching the great men and women conspiring to create history. It is a nice idea, of course. However, as most of […]

    Anne Frank, Ghost Weddings and Post-Mortem Baptisms February 27, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Anne Frank, Ghost Weddings and Post-Mortem Baptisms

    A bit of a ragtag post this: the possibilities of post-mortem marriage and baptism (or ‘naming ceremonies’ to remain as broad as possible). Beach got thinking about this after a recent discussion with a priest who had married a teenager to her dead boyfriend. The boyfriend had just passed away in intensive care after a […]

    Irish Changeling in New York February 18, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Irish Changeling in New York

    Ok there has been a lot of energy and desperation spent on this one: Beach has wasted, in fact, about six hours of his life trying to chase down the story. If any reader should happen to find a newspaper version there will be a bright shiny book of some description put in the post […]

    Slaves for Sale February 17, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Slaves for Sale

    Beachcombing has recently become interested in slavery, a matter that he has neglected in previous posts, with the exception of a very unpleasant beating in Colonial American and an early piece on the Barbary Coast. Beach has particularly been impressed/horrified by slave adverts and has stumbled on several remarkable examples. Let’s start off with something […]

    De Gaulle and Ike at Gettysburg January 26, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    De Gaulle and Ike at Gettysburg

    One of Beachcombing’s many files in the rusty filing cabinet in the downstairs bathroom is a surprisingly bulky: ‘battlefields after the fact’. Here there are a series of great men and women visiting the places of carnage past and reflecting on ‘the father of all things’. There are many precious references in said file including […]

    Epiphany Gift to Readers: Scary Fairies PDF January 6, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Epiphany Gift to Readers: Scary Fairies PDF

    Scary Fairies… While Barrie, Nesbit and others were trying to anodize* and castrate fairies c. 1900 out in the wilds of Britain, Man and Ireland there will still those who were terrified of the elfen beggars. This terror finds a little known reflex in the literature of the time. Various authors including Buchan, Machen, Le […]

    Electrocuting African Tribal Hosts January 3, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Electrocuting African Tribal Hosts

    One of the great challenges of any nineteenth-century explorers was to make friends with the ‘primitives’ in such out of the way places as an equatorial rain forest, the upper peaks of the Andes and through much of Darkest Africa. And, of course, to do so they brought gifts along with them: a sensible enough […]

    Rhyming with Death December 8, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
    Rhyming with Death

      Death concentrates the mind wonderfully and, at least in the east, a longstanding custom has been to pen a final poem: a last communiqué to the world. This custom stretches far back into the Middle Ages  and perhaps the greatest thing to recommend it is the brevity of the works in question So we […]

    How to Choose your Bride in the Late Nineteenth Century November 23, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    How to Choose your Bride in the Late Nineteenth Century

    The only advice Beachcombing can ever remember getting from a family member about how to choose a wife was ‘have a good look at her mother: she’ll be like that in fifty years’. The best advice he ever came across in his own reading, meanwhile, was in an Iris Murdoch novel (The Severed Head?): ‘only […]

    Finishing Horace and Whittier in WW2 November 3, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Finishing Horace and Whittier in WW2

    Today’s post represents a definite minority interest: poems being started by someone and finished by someone else in the Second World War. (Sorry).  Take the extraordinary exchange between the German general Heinrich Kreipe (obit 1976) and a young British major Patrick Leigh Fermor (obit 2011) [pictured centre and right] late one night in Crete in […]

    Secret Weapons September 22, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Secret Weapons

    Ideas for books very often begin with nagging questions that compulsively irritate authors and that they then work through – think of it as therapy – by writing tens or even hundreds of thousands of words. Beach suspects that the nagging question that saw Brian Ford pen Secret Weapons: Technology, Science and the Race to […]

    Bartering Chinese Women: Mao and Kissinger September 12, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Bartering Chinese Women: Mao and Kissinger

    The honour! Strange History is, as we speak, being hacked by a bunch of Chinese ruffians. If the fairies and mermaids disappear under a swelter of fake Tiffany bags you’ll know why. To celebrate this epoch-making event Beachcombing thought that he would bring China centre stage and also throw Kissinger into the mix. It is […]

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