quaker fencer

kathz isn't quite my name. I may be a Quaker. If I'm a fencer I'm a bad one and I don't do sabre. If I'm a Quaker I'm a bad one - but you've worked that out already. Read on. Comment if you like. Don't expect a reply.

Location: United Kingdom

Monday, May 08, 2006

the fencer and the spider

Did you ever hear the story of Robert the Bruce? I heard it as a young child, with the result that I know what I then regarded as the essentials and don't know enough of the historical details. Still, if you want those bits, you can always try wikipedia.

(I say that - actually I know I'll look it up if someone doesn't set me right soon. I'm a pedant at heart with a pathetic desire for accuracy.)

Anyway, Robert the Bruce was taking shelter in some hut - I always pictured it raining outside (quite likely - this was Scotland) and he had lost a battle and was hiding from the enemy. While he was there, he started watching a spider. It was trying to climb up the wall but it kept falling down and starting again. Robert watched it and watched it - I used to wonder why it didn't occur to him to give it a helping hand - and it kept falling and climbing, climbing and falling, until, in the end, it reached the top of the wall. (Why? Just because it was there?) And Robert was so inspired by this spider that he went out, got his army back together and reclaimed the throne, thrashed the enemy, threw out the English or whatever it was he had to do. It was probably all very messy and horrible but they didn't tell me that when I was young.

I never really liked that story or saw the point of it.

However, just now, I too saw a spider. I was sitting idly at the computer when it came from nowhere like a mutant bit of fluff with legs, and ambled rather casually across the carpet. "Good," I thought, "I'm having my Robert the Bruce moment. This will tell me all I need to know about my future progress as a fencer."

It got even better when the spider began to clamber clumsily up the side of my black fabric work-bag. I was about to be the grateful recipient of a metaphor.

The spider was black. The bag was black. The spider vanished. It may have climbed over my bag, fallen off, given up, or started a new life in the dark interior.

Some metaphor. Some message.

Well, I never did like that story. And I've never seen a spider wielding a foil, let alone an epee.


Blogger Elizabeth McClung said...

How very metaphorical - yet when I see a big black spider, it is me vainly trying to climb the wall to the safety of the cieling. The spider disappearing into my bag would have been a sign from the bug collective that I should give up fencing, or forever fear my gear (cause if you kill a spider, the relatives swear blood vengence). I am glad you seem to take a more philosophical view.

6:53 pm  
Blogger kathz said...

i spend a lot of time rescuing spider from the bath and elsewhere so they ought to be on my side or bringing me luck.

Meanwhile, there seem to be lots of versions of the Robert the Bruce and the spider story - it's not clear whether the spider was climbing, weaving or even swinging from a thread (a sort of arachnid version of swinging from the chandelier?). However, one version can be found at: http://www.highlanderweb.co.uk/wallace/bruce.htm

10:50 am  

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