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, July 05, 2006

Le jour du gloire est (presque) arrive - peut-etre

Some days just go well.

It wasn't so much the fencing as all the little things that fell into place as the heatwave broke - not with the storm I would have liked but enough rain to remind me what "cool" means. Even shopping for clothes was achieved as I filled a bag in less than thirty minutes in a sale in a clearance outlet. Ideas fell into place in a paper I'm writing (I'll be more critical when I look at it tomorrow), trains ran on time, holiday arrangements were improved - when time came to fence I was buzzing.

OK, the buzz didn't make me do press-ups at speed and I kept warm-up running to a sedate jog. But footwork practice was fun and I fenced foil and epee against a variety of opponents, mostly smaller than myself. The club's new epeeist has a repertoire of unfamiliar moves for me to counter - or fail to counter. Conversations with friends between bouts aided recovery from the heat.

But all the time there was one really important question - what was happening in the football World Cup?

I didn't mean to get involved. It's just that seeing France play - and the genius of Zinedine Zidane - recalled the victory of Les Bleus in 1998. That triumph was made even sweeter by the discomfiture of Fascist leader, Jean-Marie Le Pen, who had denounced France's rainbow team. Ecstatic celebrations seemed to defeat racism, for a while.

Hate wasn't beaten for ever. Recently Le Pen's Front National has scored uncomfortably high ratings in the opinion polls. But Zidane is still there and Wiltord and Henry - with newer talents like Saha and Ribery. The passion with which the team sings the Marseillaise may count for something.

"Contre nous de la tyrannie / L'etandard sanglant est leve," they sing, "the bloody standard of tyranny is raised against us". The footballers and their supporters sing with such commitment that I believe, for a moment, that liberty, equality and fraternity have started to make a better world.

I know. It's only football. I had a happy holiday once in Portugal, which liberated itself from fascism in 1974. I don't know what a Portuguese victory might mean. In the end, it's not about logic. My heart is with France.

I was home for the last fifteen minutes of the match. France led 1-0. Portugal pressed forward. When they got a corner in extra time, even their goalie advanced, ready to score should the chance permit. But the French Fabien Barthez, eccentric even among goalkeepers, held the ball tight to his chest when a save was required.

France plays Italy in the final on Sunday. Family, take warning This is mum booking the TV for two hours. I'll be watching. DO NOT DISTURB.


Blogger quakerdave said...

Saturday is my birthday, and all I want is two hours to myself to watch the Final.

12:05 am  

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