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, June 20, 2007

more important than fencing?

What can be more important than fencing? Quite a lot actually.

I'd been hesitant about fencing this week. Pain in my right wrist and arm - probably from typing with the keyboard at the wrong angle - left me worrying about how long I could hold an epee and how accurately I could hit. Being a worse epeeist than last week didn't appeal.

Then there was a new claim on my time. My son was asked to play a keyboard with a group in a school concert (one item on a packed programme). I had to persuade him that I'd behave well. "Don't say anything, don't clap along, don't join in the songs - whatever other people do," was the command. Instead of going fencing, I went to the concert.

Mu son's involvement was arranged late. I didn't know there would be tickets till the last minute. And I took my fencing kit just in case. I wasn't really hoping to challenge someone to a duel but the school is next to the leisure centre where we fence. As the concert began at 7.00 and fencing lasts till 9.30, I thought I might get half an hour's fencing at least. A couple of weeks back the epee coach had reckoned he could offer some help at 9.00, when the beginners moved on from coaching to free play.

I'd forgotten about school concerts. They are filled with unexpected delights. They are also long.

I'd asked my son how long it would be. "Long," he said, but could give no detail. "Long" was a fair description. The first part lasted an hour and a half. Luckily I loved a great deal. The opening samba band thrilled the audience with gusto . A teacher - evidently a trained singer (professional standard, surely) - sang songs by Roger Quilter and Vaughan Williams. It wasn't quite to the pupils' taste but I was enraptured. He sang my favourite Quilter song - a setting of Tennyson's most erotic poem (although the wonderful couplet at the centre is omitted from the setting). A student gave a startlingly intense and interior rendition of Bach on an elderly and inadequate keyboard - and produced wonders. There were performers filled with enthusiasm and many with great promise. Some technically imperfect performances were moving. I willed them to do their best, knowing that one day they might do better still.

At previous school concerts pupils were compelled to wear school uniform. This time they wore their own clothes, which seemed to boost their confidence. The costumes were mostly casual and not extravagant - but they showed the characters of the performers. The audience (family, friends, other performers) cheered every act wildly. Pupils left the stage grinning

At half time I headed for the leisure centre to give my apologies. The hall looked cool and relatively empty (quite a few fencers were on the stage or in the audience). I looked longingly at the white-clad fencers as they moved swiftly and skilfully. All at once, I wanted to be among them. The epee coach wasn't there so I had no apology to give. I wondered briefly whether 20 minutes would allow me to get my kit on, exchange a few hits, change back and sit calmly in the audience. I knew it wouldn't. "If it ends early," I asked, knowing it wouldn't, "could I keep my jeans on and slip on a jacket and fence foil - just steam?" The coach I asked agreed but we both knew I was unlikely to be back.

It was a good concert. I just needed a time-turner. Sometimes I need to be in two places at once.

The first half had included popular and classical items. The second moved more towards rock. The version of YMCA in which my son was involved sounded like punk to me, but my knowledge is dated. I think Village People might have found it unexpected. The rock version Pachebel's Canon was startling. An energetic death metal performance (preceded by a polite announcement that was half explanation, half apology) had the young people applauding ecstatically while the grannies smiled. It all took them back to their youth. They thought happily of Alice Cooper.

The concert ended after 10. I was filled with energy as I collected my kit and swords from the leisure centre reception and headed home.

Next week, I hope ...

Meanwhile, I can fantasise ...

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Blogger KateJ said...

I remember enjoying a school concert a year or so back where we had a swing jazz version of Pachelbel's Canon, in which my son played tenor sax. Pachelbel seems infinitely adaptable.
I'll miss school concerts, now my son has finished school. (I certainly missed very few while he was there!) I mean, where else would you get a Shostakovich cello suite and a cover version of Robbie Williams on the same programme, andenjoy them both?

1:14 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry you did not get to fence. The very words " more important than fencing " sent cold chills up my spine.

On the bright side....that was a cool little film clip. I posted it on our club forum.

10:55 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


anonymous = Jim

10:56 pm  

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