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  • Killer Sheep September 3, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Killer Sheep

    Sheep are some of the most benign, unthreatening animals that you can hope to meet. Think of a ewe bleating ineffectually over her young as the farmer comes for his prey, or one of the most pathetic images in the whole of creation, a grown sheep running to suckle when it perceives a threat, almost knocking […]

    Watch Out for the Fairies Among Us! August 13, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Watch Out for the Fairies Among Us!

    In the long struggle to get a handle on fairies there have been claims that ‘the good people’ were simply a human race, kept apart from the rest of us, in the bogs and the mountains of the west and north of Europe: Buchan, Jenner, MacRitchie and many, many others made this argument and it […]

    Unusual Wild West Duels August 3, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Unusual Wild West Duels

    Duels out in the unconquered west and in the badlands of Mexico should, by rights, just be a matter of six shooters and a fast finger and a faster hand. But here are three examples that show that nineteenth-century eccentricity over duels also reached far beyond New England. Let’s start with a particularly nasty one. […]

    Three Wellingtons To Rule Them All and Hair Jewellery July 2, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Three Wellingtons To Rule Them All and Hair Jewellery

      I came across this story while looking into the history of magic rings. It is some, shall we say, marginalia, written into the back of a volume that was subsequently scanned by Google. This is not the first time I’ve come across an intriguing reference on an online scan, but this one begged more […]

    How to Train a Griffin! June 6, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    How to Train a Griffin!

    Beni Hassan is a collection of ancient Egyptian tombs in central Egypt. The tombs there have many precious illustrations of day-to-day life under the Pharoahs. And one of the most curious images is that above from the tomb of Khety (eleventh dynasty). Reader, what are you looking at? No, idea? Well, there is little doubt […]

    Swearing Fetuses and the English Sausage Seller May 17, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Swearing Fetuses and the English Sausage Seller

    A nasty little episode from the late 1860s and London with a most curious annex. A sausage seller gets roughed up by a group of young London Jews, after saying something anti-semitic. This led to a trial. When his wife or ‘missus’ was called into the witness box though, something rather peculiar happened. To corroborate […]

    Telegraph Wire and Oasis Jewellery May 15, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Telegraph Wire and Oasis Jewellery

    Governments and multi-nationals have long had problems with locals (particularly criminally-inclined locals) stealing their wire. Most collectors get out their pliers because, say, copper is worth a lot of money. But in the early years of electricity and telegraph wire there were other reasons for stealing: more principled and practical reasons. Take Thomas Stevens’ description […]

    White Indians in Brazil, 1953? April 25, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    White Indians in Brazil, 1953?

    In the long and painful relations between settling Europeans and indigenous American peoples there often came moments when genes were exchanged. Sometimes this took place because of love at the fringes of each society, sometimes it took place after rape, and in some cases children or babies from one society found themselves brought up by […]

    Flirty Fishing: Evangelical Prostitution April 19, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite, Contemporary
    Flirty Fishing: Evangelical Prostitution

    The Children of God were a rather silly American Christian group, born in 1968, that went, however, almost immediately off the rails, rode down the sidings and ended up chugging along in the blackest, grimiest ditches known to human experience. They specialized, for one, in unusual sexual practices. Some of these are too sordid to […]

    How to Make a Mummy: According to Bob Brier and Robert Wade March 27, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    How to Make a Mummy: According to Bob Brier and Robert Wade

    Checklist. You don’t believe in the resurrection of the dead? You are not squeamish about your body being messed around with after you have passed? You have no dangerous blood-bourne diseases? And you would like a form of immortality? Then why not volunteer to become an Egyptian mummy? This anyway is what happened 24 May […]

    The Stalags: Israeli Holocaust Erotica March 15, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    The Stalags: Israeli Holocaust Erotica

    Literature has some pretty bizarre dust balls under the bed – roadkill cookbooks, Marxist-Leninist poetry… – but there are few things that compete with the so-called ‘stalags’, Israeli erotica based around Nazi murder camps. In the late 1960s Israel was experiencing holocaust delerium: sweating out the killing of six million Jewish Europeans just two decades […]

    Fairies, Arson and Banknotes in Co. Donegal March 6, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Fairies, Arson and Banknotes in Co. Donegal

    One of the great things about fairies in traditional communities is that they make for the perfect alibi. If someone pushes down the landlord’s fence then, of course, it was the fairies that did it. If a man is a beaten out walking along a midnight lane then the fairies did it. If a boy […]

    McConnel’s Passing: An At Death Encounter? March 2, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    McConnel's Passing: An At Death Encounter?

    11 December 1918 was a sad day in the McConnel family. Eighteen-year-old David McConnel (aka M’Connel in some publications) had perished four days before in a plane crash: just three months after the end of the worst war in history, at a time when his family might reasonably have hoped that he would be safe. Flying from […]

    Review: Return of the Ancestral Gods February 12, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite, Medieval, Modern
    Review: Return of the Ancestral Gods

    When this blogger thinks ‘neo-paganism’: he conjures up images of well-meaning Wiccans dancing nude in the New Forest or Californian ‘fairies’ sitting earnestly in a circle around a lonely pine and talking gnomes. But neo-paganism is not a uniform phenomenon as Mariya Lesiv’s wonderful new book, The Return of the [Ukrainian] Ancestral Gods, shows all […]

    In Search of the Lamia in Ethiopia? January 28, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    In Search of the Lamia in Ethiopia?

    This passage appears in an 1863 book about a Briton’s residence in Abyssinia. The author seems to be in two minds about the monster he is describing. Is it real or is it a figment of the locals’ imagination? In the text he seems to account for it as legend, but note that he had […]

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