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, April 02, 2007

Bert Fry, fencer

Like many British people of my generation, I listen to The Archers on Radio 4. With six episodes a week and an omnibus on Sundays, this "everyday story of country folk", with its agricultural story editor and slowly maturing plot-lines, has become a fixed part of British life. Events emerge slowly, from hints to set-pieces. Recently I've enjoyed Ruth's near-elopement with Sam, the herdsman, Adam's marriage to Ian the chef and Bert Fry's retirement. Current storylines range from Peggy's worry about her husband Jack's Alzheimer's disease to the competition to become Town Crier of Borsetshire.

But the most surprising plotline has to be Bert Fry's involvement in competitive fencing. Bert is 71 and has been finding the ploughing a bit much lately, so he was coaxed into retirement and presented with a large television set. He's still working from time to time, however, as well as writing verses, gardening and entering the town crier competition. I don't listen that attentively to The Archers - I'm often cooking supper at the same time. But some words always catch my attention. And just lately I've heard some surprising remarks.

"How's the fencing, Bert?" one character asked - and then, "Good luck with the fencing."

Plainly Bert has a hitherto undisclosed career in competitive fencing. Perhaps he's been fencing for most of his life, and no-one's mentioned it. (Soon there'll be a spin-off series looking at his early career as a fencer: Bert Fry, Olympian, perhaps.) Or perhaps he was bored of retirement and made his way to the nearest salle - I know there are a couple in Warwickshire.

I can't wait for answers to the most important questions of all: How good a fencer is Bert? And does he prefer epee, sabre or foil?

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Blogger Kate J said...

Oooh you fencers with your well-honed, pointed remarks and sharp wit! Well, foiled again... when it comes to jokes about The Archers, us archers definitely have the last laugh. I was right on target with that one....
By the way, on a visit to the theatre last year (Bristol Old Vic, The Birthday Party) I spent the whole play trying to 'place' the actor whose voice and Irish accent were so very familiar... it was Ian (Stephen Kennedy) from the Archers. We had quite a chat in the bar after - a really nice guy.

7:11 pm  
Blogger Elizabeth McClung said...

I hate to disappoint Kathz but I think you might need to ready yourself for another type of fencing (with like, lumber) - just from the "feel" I got from the Archers - not that I actually listened since it seemed a bit "too british" for me (while things like Cracker or Touch of Evil seemed just about the right level for me).

I hope he is doing veteren's class but I doubt it.

12:49 am  
Anonymous Jim said...

Bert does epee. I have it on good authority.

2:37 am  
Blogger kathz said...

I refuse to accept that Bert's fencing has anything to do with lumber. Perhaps there's a salle in Ambridge and they just haven't told us. The fencing tournament would make a nice change from village cricket and the Women's Institute elections. (Perhaps I should write to the producers and explain that a fencing sub-plot would gain them lots more listeners.)

I do realise it's a very British thing. But although it's all about "country folk" I reckon most of the listeners live in towns, cities and suburbs and like it as their modern version of pastoral.

Incidentally, it's better than the TV soaps at addressing contentious issues - I like the way it's been dealing with the relationship between the vicar and Usha, who's a Hindu (and the local solicitor). But I'm prejudiced. My main claim to fame is that I was once directed in an amateur production by Peter Leslie Wild, now a radio producer at the BBC who has produced episodes of The Archers. He hasn't invited me to make a guest appearance however - perhaps he's waiting till the salle is revealed - it could yet be quaker fencer v. Bert Fry!!!! (I can tell that Jim has inside knowledge and that Bert really does fence epee.)

8:52 am  

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