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

Saturday, January 19, 2008

cats and swords

As you can see, he's a beautiful cat. I'm not sure if he's our cat yet, but if he's ours his name is Joe. He's lived with us for a week and a half. He came in quietly, as cats do, and lay down by the fire, indicating that this was his house and we were his people. There wasn't much we could do about it so we offered cat food. He's living with us now. And I think he's already had an impact on my fencing.

Last fencing night looked good. I was able to work from home so I reckoned on a leisurely stroll to to fencing - perhaps even time for some exercise at home. I should have known it wouldn't work like that.

I've told the full story elsewhere - and that's where I'll post feline follow-ups. It's enough to say that on the morning of my fencing day, I came downstairs to pools of blood - and no cat. A fox had been barking in the night but I don't know what was to blame. The cat came in briefly and left again - he may have overheard my daughter's phone-call to the vet or my call to a neighbouring sabreur who owned a cat basket. We finally got Joe to the vet in the evening. His wound opened again and he dripped blood over the vet's table.

(Note to North American readers: we Brits always call a veterinarian a "vet" - here the term has nothing to do with the military.)

A decision was made to keep Joe in overnight and operate in the morning - the only question was "Do you take credit cards?" Afterwards my son and I picked up pizzas and I wondered whether to head, late and shakily, to fencing. There was no time to walk. I rang the cab company, changed, grab my swords and backpack and headed into the cold.

The hall was warm. There must have been about 50 fencers in attendance, 20 of them beginners learning what a plastron was and how to wear a mask. I had no chance for a warm-up. Instead, I found myself telling anyone who would listen the story of the cat, and how I seemed to have a cat even though I didn't really want one. A critically ill cat seemed more than I could cope with in a world of responsibilities.

I tried to forget the cat and focus on fencing. "Let's impress the beginners," I said to a fellow epeeist. She suggested gently that we might not be very impressive. "We're rather slow," she said. I thought that the size of the swords might compensate. So for five minutes or so the beginners were treated to the sight of me being hit repreatedly - and fairly slowly - with a big sword while I went on thinking about the cat.

I might have been hit just as many times but I like to believe that, if I hadn't been thinking about the cat, I'd have put up more resistance. Eventually my blade found it's way to one or two hits - even on the arm - but it had little assistance from me.

My fencing didn't improve all evening - and an attempt at foil resulted in a run of bib hits, which aren't, I think, legal yet. Still, I was half distracted.

At the end of the evening I set out to walk home - given the vet's bill I plainly should avoid too much expenditure on taxis. It's only a mile and a half and an easy walk - or so I thought until I realised that I'd arrived in fencing clothes with no coat. It was the only day all week without rain. Instead, the night air was white with freezing fog. I gritted my teeth and strode out, shivering slightly.

At last luck and kindness were on my side. A fellow fencer - the victim of my wine the week before - pulled up beside me and offered a lift. I must have reinforced his impression of my clumsiness as, between cold and shakiness from worry, I dropped my swords on the road. But I clambered in and was soon home to discover a neighbour's cat had taken Joe's place and was fast asleep on my bed.

Note: In case you're concerned about the cat, he came through the operation and is now convalescent. He's got to go back to the vet a couple of times but he seems much happier and livelier. He's had a go at using the computer too.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for the info, fingers crossed on the recovery. Smudge hasn't touched the keyboard, yet he loves his copy of 'Electronics Weekly' which is mailed to us. Must be the plastic wrapper and the unique paper and ink smell. I daren't tell them the main reason we continue with the free copy! kllrchrd

12:30 pm  

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