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  • Aristotle and the Flatulent Earth October 27, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    Aristotle and the Flatulent Earth

    Beachcombing is always loath to give any publicity to the appalling Aristotle – and recently had a piece on Aristotle’s lost work on comedy wrung out of him against all his better judgement. However, after Beachcombing’s first experience of an earthquake last year he found himself grazing in Aristotle’s Metereology where the non-Platonic one gives […]

    Pytheas and the Mysterious Marine Lung October 25, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    Pytheas and the Mysterious Marine Lung

    Pytheas of Marseille was a Greek sailing captain who, in the fourth century BC, ventured from the comfortable and known Mediterranean out into the northern Atlantic describing what he found there. Later generations believed that Pytheas was a fantasist and decried him. But, from the bits and pieces of Pytheas’ work that have survived – […]

    Rhyming Violence in Early Medieval Ireland October 23, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    Rhyming Violence in Early Medieval Ireland

    Ireland, the early seventh-century. It is a cold, cold day in late autumn and the monastery is buzzing with excitement. ‘The faminators are coming. There is to be a duel’. As soon as the master of studies hears the news he waddles off to tell the abbot.  It takes him half an hour, but after […]

    Elizabeth Siddal: poets behaving badly October 19, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Elizabeth Siddal: poets behaving badly

    Beachcombing has a distant day almost constantly in mind – one that he fears tremendously – when little Miss B will arrive home from school prom or a disco or a walk in a wood with an ear-ringed possibly nose-ringed man on her arm, only to announce in dulcet tones: ‘Mum, Dad this is John, he is a poet’. For […]

    Review: After the Funeral – the Posthumous Adventures of Famous Corpses October 17, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
    Review: After the Funeral - the Posthumous Adventures of Famous Corpses

    Beachcombing has been spending a tense evening debating with Mrs B over their choice of Au Pair – God help the poor girl! And it is with some relief that he now escapes to the computer to write up his first review in a month. Of course, it is not that there are no good […]

    Christopher Columbus and Mermaids October 16, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
    Christopher Columbus and Mermaids

    Beachcombing cannot find it in himself to envy Christopher Columbus. All that salt water and all those incipient rebellions must have wreaked havoc on the good navigator’s blood pressure. But in one thing alone Beachcombing confesses to green-eyed rabid jealousy: the great Genovese explorer saw Mermaids, not once, but twice in his life, while the closest poor […]

    Going Dark Age on the Circle Line October 12, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    Going Dark Age on the Circle Line

    Beachcombing’s trawl around south-east England and London on behalf of Canadian History Student is now three-days old and continues here with another side of London’s Circle Line. The Circle Line for any London virgins among Beachcombing’s readership is the wonderful series of station represented by a yellow circle on the map of central London that goes […]

    A Ring, A Curse Stone and J.R.R. Tolkien October 11, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    A Ring, A Curse Stone and J.R.R. Tolkien

    As noted in yesterday’s post Beachcombing is presently trying to pass on some off-the-beaten-track travel tips to Canadian History Student in his/her coming trip around south-east England. Beachcombing thought that for the second of his suggested visits he would counsel a quick run up to Vyne House near Basingstoke. Beachcombing doesn’t care much for the […]

    Politicians and Maps October 9, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Politicians and Maps

    As Beachcombing explained in a previous post it has been a difficult week. And yet his attempt to shrug off the blues with an unfortunate Mayan sacrificial victim yesterday backfired – he had bad dreams. Here then is a further attempt moving on from Mesoamerican pain to political stupidity. And as there is so much stupidity out […]

    Mayan Blood and Mayan Victims October 8, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    Mayan Blood and Mayan Victims

    Beachcombing has had a bad week and so to perk himself up a little he thought that he would resort to the last strategy of the truly desperate: pity someone who is worse off than himself. In this spirit and in continuance of his wcih (‘worst careers in history’) series he has decided to rememeber the […]

    Hunter-Shoppers October 5, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Prehistoric
    Hunter-Shoppers

    Beachcombing’s nickname at High School – concrete comprehensive school somewhere in the lush north – was Caveman. And Beachcombing’s peers – with that preternatural perception that adolescents still have before soap operas, nicotine and 9-5 set in  – were onto something as the Stone-Ager was always close to the surface. Even now, it is enough for Beachcombing […]

    Image: Comrade Lenin in Antarctica October 4, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Image: Comrade Lenin in Antarctica

    It was a dull weekend and so Beachcombing is going to give himself a pick-me-up this Monday morning with one of his favourite sports – making fun of the Soviet Union. And what better way to do it than with this fabulous photograph of the southern pole of inaccessibility, the point in Antarctica furthest from […]

    Boiling mice in the name of history October 3, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    Boiling mice in the name of history

    It is widely known, Beachcombing believes, that the Romans ate dormice. Despite sumptuary laws forbidding the practice – dormice were an indulgence – they were fattened in gardens and kept in winter in a glirarium (a large ceramic jar) to prevent them hibernating (and becoming thin…). They were then cooked, stuffed with  pine kernels, garum, […]

    Those Nice Austro-Hungarian Machine Gunners October 2, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Those Nice Austro-Hungarian Machine Gunners

    Beachcombing recently found himself marveling over a passage in Mark Thompson’s The White War on Italy’s dreadful First World War campaigns. Italy it must be remembered was fighting, for the most part, the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the Peacock Imperial Throne of central Europe. Another kind of collusion was so rare that very few instances were recorded […]

    San Miniato: Renaissance Vandalism September 28, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    San Miniato: Renaissance Vandalism

    Beachcombing has loved the extraordinary monastery of San Miniato (Florence), his favourite continental church, since he first saw it fifteen years ago. Started in a largely undocumented generation in the eleventh century it showed from the beginning an ambition that, though wholly medieval in form, anticipated the Florentine renaissance in terms of its self-confident eccentricity. However, there […]

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