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  • Letting Off Steam November 26, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
    Letting Off Steam

    All societies need moments when kings, citizens and slaves let off steam. The police in the United States allow adolescents to get away with things on Halloween that would land them in a jail cell every other night of the year. The Romans had Saturnalia when masters had to serve their slaves the dinner and […]

    DNA Champion November 24, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
    DNA Champion

    Our DNA is the damnedest stuff, it gets everywhere: not only forensically but also historically. Just the other day, Beach reviewed the evidence (2010) that one medieval Amerindian woman in Iceland passed on her DNA to eighty modern Icelanders. Then there are plenty of other dramatic examples of DNA spreading through history, especially now that […]

    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 […]

    A List of Supercentenarians November 21, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern

      The following list of long-living folks crops up in a book from the very early twentieth-century. Different versions of this same list had already appeared in various publications through the nineteenth century and names seem to have been added and dropped as easily as editors clumped decades onto the supposed Methuselahs: John Effingham, for […]

    Big Bones in Churches November 19, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
    Big Bones in Churches

    At the end of the nineteenth century the Reverend Wilkins Rees put together a short collection of examples of enormous bones that had found their way into English and Welsh churches. He mentioned five impressive instances, four of which he seems to have seen himself. 1) Foljambe Chapel, Chesterfield Church: ‘This bone, supposed to be […]

    Magic Translation and Flowers November 17, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Magic Translation and Flowers

    Beachcombing previously in this place examined magical displays from medieval India and particularly levitation, which Beach still hasn’t got his head around. As a follow up of sorts he thought that today he would quote this description of parlour magic plus from the sub continent in the late nineteenth century. Some of the tricks sound […]

    Self Decapitation in South East Asia November 13, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    Self Decapitation in South East Asia

    A short post today as the Beachcombing family celebrates its reunion. The following text comes from the mid fourteenth century and relates to the experiences of a visitor to the court of the Sultan of Mul Jawah (Java or more likely East Sumatra). In this Sultan’s assembly I saw a man with a knife like […]

    Eating People Isn’t Wrong (in Tibet) November 7, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Eating People Isn't Wrong (in Tibet)

    A crisis of sorts tonight in the Beachcombing household. Mrs B is leaving the family home to go and organise an academic conference in the heart of darkness (aka Brussels). This means that Beach – a better husband than a father – and the Beachcombing’s au pair are being left on their own to look […]

    A-Z of Thuggery November 6, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern