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

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

the sweet scents of Spring

Spring has come late this year but now the daffodils are out and cherry trees are heavy with blossom. OK, we've passed Eliot's cruellest month, which signally failed to breed lilacs out of the dead land, and I didn't hear of any folk longing to go on pilgrimage either, though there was some enthusiasm for warmer seaside resorts. News of bird flu and mass extermination of chickens seems to have replaced Tom Lehrer's individual venture of poisoning pigeons in the park. (Could be worse - I remember the pyres of cows in the BSE epidemic a few years back, and the closed countryside and the troughs of disinfectant outside Whitby Abbey.)

Fencing continues - and I suddenly realise I'd forgotten about the sweat.

Of course, we sweat in all weathers - in winter the parents watching the youngest fencers learn to huddle in huge coats and scarves and gloves while the rest of us glow pleasantly in the unheated hall. But with the sudden arrival of Spring, everything has changed.

It was a short warm-up - the beginners can't take much yet - ending with some very simple but rapid footwork. As it ended, I began to notice the sweat - and the smell.

The odours are strongest in the cupboard where club jackets are kept - it's wise to avoid this area at the end of the two-hour session. But odours start very early and become intense after half an hour or so of fencing - after which we begin to get used to it. Of course, we're far too polite to say anything - but I wonder how many fencers, if blindfolded, could identify fellow-fencers from the smell of their sweat alone.

It's a relief to get out into the chill, almost-dark car park when the two hours is up.

I wonder if it's the odour of fencers that makes the badminton players look so serious.

I did a lot of epee today, pretty badly - actually, apart from one or two neat hits, very badly indeed. And foil wasn't any better. Perhaps next week I'll be back to thinking strategically, instead of just hitting and hoping.


Blogger Elizabeth McClung said...

I think (and this will sound strange coming from me) that a great deal of epee is just putting in the time and effort until finally it *clicks* at which time - kiss it goodbye because that's the last you'll see of it for a few weeks.

Sweat - uh, I know - I have been trying to wash my glove (which now has a physical presence) and helmet - if I can find 2 days in a row I'm not using them.

Also, I find that at the start of summer I start to "glow" like crazy for two weeks - then calm down - reverse happens at start of winter except I am freezing.

1:14 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have two epee gloves. One is brand new and I hate it, as it is not broken in. My old one, has been molded to the shape of my hand by sweating and drying. It is like a second skin.....a second skin I cannot carry inside my fencing bag, as it may make the rest of my stuff smell the same way. Gosh it is awful...yet I love it. Leather cannot be washed.

As for Beth's mask, I put my mask in the dishwasher and it cleans up really nice. The only problem is that it takes the stamps off my mask from armory inspections from tournaments.


3:15 am  
Blogger kathz said...

I'm not sure the dishwasher would work on my old mask, which has bits that are held together with duct-tape. Everything else goes in the ordinary washing-machine, although my old (second-hand, no longer legal) jacket is fraying alarmingly. This Christmas I really shall get a new jacket to replace the one I got from the pile of club discards. I meant to get one last Christmas but couldn't resist buying my own epee. Unfortunately the Leon Paul shop, which used to be near St Pancras Station, has moved - I want to buy in person from the shop, if possible. I wonder if they would give advice about cleaning gloves and masks - they are ever so helpful about queries and respond helpfully to e-mails. They have a decent website at http://www.leonpaul.com/ .

4:10 am  

Post a Comment

<< Home