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 05, 2008

Fencing for toasters and falling on ice

It's a beautiful toaster. But while my friend and fellow epeeist acknowledged its charm, she refused to acknowledge its superiority. She too had just acquired a toaster and asserted that her toaster, rather than mine, was "the most beautiful toaster in the world." Hers was, she declared, ecologically superior, retro and mint-green. Mine, she acknowledged grudgingly, might be a classic, but she refused to to admit that my sturdy, elegant, four-slice toaster was the best in the world.

Throughout the evening, we argued the merits of our toasters. Finally she suggested we should settle the matter with foils. (We'd already tried steam sabre, which reduced our ref. to helpless giggles, and done rather better at epee.)

Alas. I couldn't remember the rules for right of way and Christmas indulgence had left me lethargic. I had expended too much energy on the effort to squeeze into my breeches. I failed to uphold the merits of my splendid toaster.

Another foilist came in search of a bout, offering to fence us each in turn. "Do you have a toaster?" my friend asked. He nodded. "What make is it?" He tried to remember, then gave up. "Can you describe your toaster?" He shook his head. "Never mind. You're fencing for your toaster."

He beat us both before admitting ... that he no longer had a toaster. The reputations of our toasters had been demolished by .... no toaster at all.

This didn't seem quite right. But within twenty-four hours, we'd come up with a new scheme. Snow was predicted. We would go skating in Nottingham's Old Market Square, while it was snowing.

It didn't work out as planned. The snow made the headlines in the local paper but forgot to fall. Still, we headed for the outdoor ice-rink, wondering if fencing on ice was possible. "Could you manage a ballestra? It would be hard to stop when doing a fleche." A lunge might be a bit too easy, I thought - and I wasn't sure how I'd recover and reprise. At the back of my mind was a suspicion that my inability to skate could be a problem. "I don't think they'd let us use swords," my friend warned.

After skating - more or less - for forty-five minute, I had to concede that my friend had a point. It was about ten years since I last attempted to skate. At most, I've skated once in each decade of my life. Armed with a sword, I'd probably have stabbed myself a couple of times. My two tumbles could have ended messily - even fatally. There could have been carnage. The children clinging to the edge or gliding with parents would have been in danger.

I'd rather have looked like Jayne Torvill, who opened the ice rink. She and Christopher Dean are local heroes. But I've never seen ice dancers like them - and they certainly didn't have rivals among the twenty or so skaters that morning.

I made a modest resolution. I would try to skate once round the rink without holding on. I'm pleased to say I achieved it. And I made another resolution - to come back and try again next year.

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