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

Friday, August 10, 2007

summer stabbing

It was three weeks since I'd stabbed anyone and I was getting restless. Walks in Scotland are all very well but my quest for Ben Gunn had been insufficiently piratical. I hadn't carried a sword. I wanted to fence.

So I was restless and my restlessness took me back to the fencing club website. browsed vaguely when an announcement caught me. It was about the other leisure centre used by the club - the one a long way away where I've never fenced. (There's not a direct bus and most evenings I'm on homework/bedtime patrol.) But the announcement suggested something wonderful: "2nd Thursday in the month: epee priority night". It's school holidays. I had to get there.

It should have been two buses and I wasn't sure how I'd manage with a shoulder bag of swords. It's a foil-bag really and it doesn't shut properly when holidng epees. I wasn't sure what would happen if I had to walk through the city centre, wearing my club hoodie and carrying weapons. Still, I was prepared to give it a go.

In the end I got a lift there. I missed usual journey to the leisure centre. The water meadows have been lovely on the rare warm summer evenings, though I can feel a little uneasy when I walk home. But the warm welcome of the leisure centre staff when they directed me to the changing rooms (with large free shower!) made up for the unfortunate odour. I wished I'd brought a towel.

The club had a fairly small space - enough for two pistes - in a large, L-shaped hall. There were badminton players, of course, but they were decently hidden behind a curtain they didn't disturb us. Diagonally opposite was a class of graceful girl gymnasts in black leotards. Sometimes the smallest and slightest would sway precariously on the shoulders of others.

Next to us, a male coach was training four teenage women boxers. As there were no actual bouts, I could watch without wincing and see the skill and strength with which they placed their blows or parried in defence. They kicked upward too. I don't know how long they practised - certainly more than the two hours we were there, and they worked without a break. One of the fencers muttered a bit, though not to me or the other women. He didn't approve of women boxing. "Go and tell them," another fencer suggested. But he didn't seem to think that was a good idea.

There were thirteen or fourteen of us and six were epeeists. This was a night for practice, not for coaching - the coaches turned up to fence. I'd like to say I fenced well but I fenced like a not very good fencer who hadn't practised for three weeks. Towards the end of the evening I was happier with myself but I was too often slow and inaccurate, for all the encouragement of my opponents. But it was splendid to be fencing again, when I hadn't expected an opportunity this month.

After the fencing I found a bus - not the one I wanted but it looked as though I could reach a place I knew and get a second bus home. But then a car stopped. It was one of the coaches, who insisted on giving me a lift. Politely he moved to turn off the radio. "Don't," I said. He supposed it wasn't my kind of music. "It is," I said. At first I didn't know what it was but gradually I recognized the Kyrie Eleison from Bach's B-Minor Mass - a performance with small choir that I didn't know. It was as close to perfection as any music I've heard in a long time. As soon as I was home, I turned on the radio and retuned it to hear the rest of the Mass. Stabbing was followed by perfect peace.

I think I have a recording somewhere. I must listen to it again. It will see me through two more weeks without fencing.

Labels: , , , , , , , , , ,