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Strange Historical Personal Names September 15, 2011

Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
Strange Historical Personal Names

Full crisis here. A think tank that Beachcombing sometimes works for needs some urgent help with a text: in a format that no program on his computer can open… And Mrs B has a pressing deadline – more help needed – with a project she has worked up about what good Europeans (ha!) the young […]

Thinking of Flying in the Eighteenth Century September 11, 2011

Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
Thinking of Flying in the Eighteenth Century

It is always curious to compare the reality of the future with the way that future was viewed in the past. Take speculations over flying. There seems to have come a point in the eighteenth century when the bien pensants realised – perhaps a bit like deep space exploration for the modern world – that […]

Did You Hear the One about the Fairy and the Alien? September 9, 2011

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

Beachcombing has never bothered to write them down, but he has a mental list of irritating academic titles ranging from ‘The Erotics of Medieval Backgammon’ to the ‘Semiotics of Transgression in Aquitanian Saints Lives’ etc etc etc. When he recently then stumbled across ‘Between One Eye Blink and the Next: Fairies, UFOs and Problems of […]

Eccentric British Funerals September 5, 2011

Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
Eccentric British Funerals

Given Beach’s almost constant obsession with death – we’ve done capital punishment, human sacrifice, wills and last words in the past year… – the funeral had, sooner or later, to make an appearance. Here then is a small collection of last rites from the eccentric side of the English nineteenth century: actually one is from […]

The Safe Battle at Burnley, 1860 September 2, 2011

Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
The Safe Battle at Burnley, 1860

When we think of vicious advertising campaigns today the chances are we think of burger chains and the cola fraternity. However, back in the nineteenth century across the Western world, the most intense rivalry was perhaps between different safe makers. This was, after all, a period when technology in locks and metal making had grown […]

Mystery Discovery on the Isle of Dogs August 28, 2011

Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Modern

Mysterious golden spurs discovered on Isle of Dogs, London about 1800: do they perhaps have a Celtic origin?

The Oak of Fairlop August 25, 2011

Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
The Oak of Fairlop

One of little Miss B’s favourite films – a Japanese fable – includes a line about the time when ‘men and trees were friends’. Beach has his doubts that there ever was, in fact, friendship between the human race and the arboreal ones. But there are occasional instances when special trees and nearby human community’s […]

Funny Fairy Stories August 23, 2011

Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
Funny Fairy Stories

Beachcombing wants to start this post with an apology. He has been writing madly on fairies the last few days, hoping to get some ‘real’ work done before term begins and while Mrs B and the kids are away at the sea. The result is that he has not had time to deal with emails […]

Female Flyting in the Raj? August 17, 2011

Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern

It has been a long day and Beach has not had time to look for this in all the normal works of reference. However, this story (or fiction?) rang no bells and as Beach has – disgrace upon disgrace – never had a Pakistani story before he thought he’d take a risk. A curious custom, […]

Fairies Investigated in Irish Court August 16, 2011

Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
Fairies Investigated in Irish Court

Beach has been enjoying himself with fairies these last few months, looking at late eighteenth- and nineteenth-century news-reports from Britain and Ireland. What is curious is that fairies very often appear in the law pages of the newspapers. They do so typically in one of two guises: (i) child abuse because parents believe the child […]

Dried Cats August 12, 2011

Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
Dried Cats

In prehistory there were, by definition, no written records. In antiquity there were few. In the Middle Ages few or several. And, then, from the invention of the printing press onwards, in Western Europe at least, the flood of the written word is almost painful. Yet notwithstanding this deluge, incredibly, there are whole facets of […]

Death Diaries and Plane Doors August 4, 2011

Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
Death Diaries and Plane Doors

A diary today from the door of an American transport plane: crazy, yes, but bear with Beach. Its contents act like smelling salts. The door in question was off an C-47 nick-named, for reasons that will soon become apparent, the Flying Dutchman. The FD came down  10 November 1942 in jungle over New Guinea, yet […]

Cat Burial in Iceland July 31, 2011

Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
Cat Burial in Iceland

This site has long tried to further the place of cats in history: something that typically involves describing the horrible things that humanity has done to felines. However, to date it has all been theoretical: a letter about Shelley’s refined animal cruelty; a Belgian tourist brochure about throwing cats off towers; or spurious but strangely […]

Fidel Castro is a Jesuit Spy! [sic] July 26, 2011

Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
Fidel Castro is a Jesuit Spy! [sic]

Beachcombing often speaks of his rusty filing cabinets in which the treasures of a couple of decades of bizarre research have been placed. However, there are also regrets. Sometimes  Beach realizes that he has missed out on two decades harvesting through lack of foresight. An example of this that causes him particular pain is what […]

Strange Speeches July 11, 2011

Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
Strange Speeches

Beachcombing got an email last night from inspired speeches, a new website [now defunct!] dedicated to gathering, well, inspired speeches. His correspondent asked for suggestions for notable discourses from the past. And Beachcombing made the terrible mistake of opening said email at midnight. The result? Beach did not sleep until dawn, tossing and turning, as […]

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