iron and steel
There's a new beginners' class starting up so the hall was packed. "Aha! - new people to stab!" I said to the boys, but of course we won't be let loose on them (or they on us) for ages yet. After the introductory talk the crowd was strung out across the hall in a long row (left-handers together at one end) practising the fencing stance and moving backward a few steps, forwards a few steps before, finally, being given the chance to hold a foil. By this time some of them were surreptitiously massaging aching muscles. "They'll be aching tomorrow," one of the women commented, and we recalled the pain.
I wasn't sure that I should be fencing. Every so often either my iron level or my blood pressure dips and I find rooms darkening and floors swaying unexpectedly. After two or three years with no problems, yesterday saw me rather more tired than usual and the floor started sloping like the deck of a ship toward the end of the day. So I headed off to the doctor, returned later for a blood test and - while awaiting the result - purchased a jar of vitamins with iron. It's not serious at all, by the way, and can be quite funny. Years ago I fainted as I finished teaching a seminar which certainly made it memorable for the concerned students. These days I usually manage to avoid fainting, though I can find myself swaying in harmony with the floor.
But I couldn't miss fencing. "Just a little light foil," I told myself - so within ten minutes of arriving I was happily fencing epee against a beginner epeeist (he started foil at the same time as me but has only recently been trying epee). I got some hits in and maintained a reasonable speed - most of all, I kept going and didn't feel faint. It did wonders for my confidence.
Fencing an experienced epeeist was another matter. However much he slowed down, I was missing easy hits and, just as I began to get into the way of things, the faintness hit. I would not give into it. However, for about five minutes I was more concerned with standing upright holding my epee than with hitting or parrying. My kind opponent, as usual, was saying "sorry" almost every time he hit me - most of the time, in other words. For once I was relieved when he suggested, as usual, that we end with a bout to five.
After that, foil and conversation till it was time to go home. And, fencing a less-experienced foilist (there really are less experienced fencers than me!) I slowed down so that she could practise attacking while I parried. I slowed down so much I was in a daydream at times - and very peaceful it was too.
If it is iron deficiency that's the problem, the tablets should kick in by next week when I'll be filled with energy again. Come to think of it, am I using the wrong weapon for all those swaying and sloping floors? Is it sabre they use in pirate movies? There's an idea .. Johnny Depp, here I come!.