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  • Image: Arresting Trouble December 4, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Image: Arresting Trouble

    The Beachcombing family has been shook tonight by phantom (?) contractions and Mrs B. is  upstairs wondering whether or not she is about to give birth. Beachcombing is a nursing a frullato downstairs confident that the baby is still a month away. But then Beachcombing is wrong about almost everything and that leads him nicely to […]

    The Crocodile, the Dog and the Wardrobe December 3, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The Crocodile, the Dog and the Wardrobe

    Beachcombing always enjoys the passion with which nineteenth-century naturalists captured and then observed their prey, from sugaring early gas lamps to taking out the rifle whenever a rare bird flew into their garden. He particularly enjoyed this passage (just sent in by a correspondent) from the works of that German polymath Alexander von Humboldt (1859), […]

    De Gaulle Flies into History November 17, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    De Gaulle Flies into History

    Beachcombing has a soft spot for Charles De Gaulle. Indeed, he often thinks of old lemon face on the balcony in Mostaganem in 1958, denying that the twentieth century had happened. Or the good General pissing off the Canadians in Quebec in 1967. Then there is de Gaulle’s comment on the death of his daughter, Anne, with Down […]

    Antique Christians in Furthest China October 7, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
    Antique Christians in Furthest China

    Beachcombing has often visited in these pages his favourite WIBT (‘wish I’d been there’) moments from history. And today he takes the gentle reader to another this time in China in honour of his mother and step-father who have recently fled the dominions for a holiday in the Far East. It is 1625 and the gutsy Portuguese […]

    Image: They Can Because They Think They Can September 27, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Image: They Can Because They Think They Can

    As his final tribute to the RAF on the seventieth anniversary of the Battle of Britain, Beachcombing offers this remarkable photograph from 19 Squadron. 19 Squadron had fought over Dunkirk and spent the Battle of Britain in the front line at Duxford: the legless and incorrigible Douglas Bader was one of her pilots as was […]

    Garibaldi’s Worst Hours September 24, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Garibaldi's Worst Hours

    Giuseppe Garibaldi had been, in the late 1830s, an insurgent in Brazil: think Che Guevara with a good barber and bourgeoise decency. He had played the rhetorician who talked up Italian irregulars as they retreated from Rome in 1849: ‘Where we are Rome will be!’ He was the genius general who, in 1860, conquered half the peninsula […]

    The Cornbeef Sandwich that Almost Destroyed a Spacecraft… September 20, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    The Cornbeef Sandwich that Almost Destroyed a Spacecraft...

    Today astronauts have it easy when it comes to lunchtime.  They open  their MandMs or unpack a fabulous meal whipped up down at ground control – in 2006 celebrity chef, Rachael Ray even prepared them Swedish meatballs. Then there are the views… Life doesn’t really get much better. But ‘back in the day’ when the […]

    The Last ‘Battle’ of the Revenge August 28, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The Last ‘Battle’ of the Revenge

                              Beachcombing is not a great one for anniversaries but for Flores, 31 August 1591, a naval ‘battle’ – if a fire-fight between a solitary ship, the Revenge, and three dozen enemy can be so called – he will make an exception. (Actually […]

    Churchill’s Dream August 27, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Churchill’s Dream

                                            Beachcombing wanted to offer today an obscure bit of Churchilliana, ‘The Dream’, that, incredibly, has never been published on the internet. Whether or not it is the best thing that Churchill ever wrote is to […]

    Women Drivers in Stalingrad August 22, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Women Drivers in Stalingrad

                                Beachcombing has already offered readers a series of his WIBT (‘wish I’d been there’) moments and couldn’t resist the following vignette that though unimportant in intention and outcome catches something of the Soviet Union in its worst years. Stalingrad in late […]

    Biggles Meets the Sandman August 19, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Biggles Meets the Sandman

                        Beachcombing offers a post today on an unlikely WIBT meeting between two writers: T.E. Lawrence and W. E. Johns. Lawrence should need no introduction. He was a British lieutenant colonel who helped foment the Arab Revolt against the Ottoman Empire (1916-1918). And with a self-publicising genius and an […]

    Image: First light August 13, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Image: First light

    Beachcombing has recently being putting together a series of photographs for his WIBT (‘Wish I’d been there’) series. He decided that he would open this series with an extraordinary shot from the Battle of Britain that teases him out of thought. Four Spitfires are taking off in the morning from an airfield: the early light and the […]

    Dowsing for Machine Guns August 6, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Dowsing for Machine Guns

              The desperate straits to which Britain was reduced in the first year of the Second World War and Churchill’s maverick character thereafter, meant that many ideas were considered in the British military establishment, c. 1940-43, that would not normally have been whispered at an old women’s séance. Beachcombing recalls the […]

    The Battle of the Somme in London August 4, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    The Battle of the Somme in London

                      Britain historically – before that dread day in 1973 when the United Kingdom signed the Treaty of Rome – prided itself on its splendid isolation. But simple geography meant that Britain was far closer to Continental Europe than Japan, say, was to Asia. And no amount of […]

    A Head Turn that Ruined the Twentieth Century July 14, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    A Head Turn that Ruined the Twentieth Century

                        If you want to rewrite the history of Western Europe in the 1920s then you could do a lot worse than get rid of ‘the Roman Lawmaker’, Benito Mussolini. Just imagine – as Beachcombing has often done – the overweight dictator dropping dead in 1926, ‘Year […]

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