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, March 21, 2008

off to the pub

English pubs aren't quite like they seem in the movies.

That's a shame. I'd like to report that the fencers led the assembled drinkers in a song and sword-dance until the pub was filled with tunefully drunken jollity. Some picturesquely criminal types and a melodramatic plot would have livened the evening further. But it wasn't like that.

The pub was quiet - no music at all, so far as I remember. A few fencers sat at a table discussing plans for the Easter weekend. At work, everyone except me seemed to be headed on holiday but the fencers in the pub were a stay-at-home bunch, apart from one who had a fencing tournament planned. One thought he might go to the garden centre "to buy some more plants to kill during the year" but that was about as exciting as it got.

The beer was good and, as the conversation drifted, I recalled the evening's fencing. Again the hall was crowded but it may be as well I didn't fence that much as I'm still supposed to be resting my foot. And conversation while waiting for a piste was lively.

At the beginning of the evening, I felt I was having a splendid run. I was landing hits as I intended - not the majority of hits but, when I broke through my opponent's guard, I managed hits that felt less clumsy than usual to the arm, wrist, hip and thigh. I felt faster and more confident. My opponent generously greeted my best hits with "well done" or "nice one." Maybe he was giving me opportunities but at least I was taking them. It seemed as though my inability to move fast was at last paying off in improved point control.

When I stepped off the piste, however, a fellow fencer helpfully pointed out a problem with my guard and the way I was lowering my wrist as I moved in to attack. This probably explains the bruise on my wrist last week. I asked the helpful fencer to show me help me get my guard right and determined to attack without exposing my wrist in future. Of course, by the time I came to fence the chef, I couldn't get it right at all and was slowed by trying to correct the mistake. I consoled myself with the thought that she is less than half my age .. but it would have been more consoling to land a lot of hits on her.

After we'd stopped fencing, I worked hard at persuading the chef to join us in the pub. I pointed out that I hadn't been to the pub after fencing for ages - and she was planning to go on holiday next week (an exotic foreign trip which for some reason involves no fencing at all.) She insisted on cycling home to change first and I wasn't sure she'd come, especially as it was a cold evening. But she arrived, late, and more elegant than the rest of us, in some very fetching brown, high-heeled shoes that evoked an previous era. But the chef is leading a double life and, when she's not indulging in swordplay and baking she stays up late writing her thesis and other academic articles. Her handbag (also elegant) concealed a newly-published book with an essay she'd written. The book looked splendid, with clear typeface and pleasant layout, and the article, as well as impressive footnotes with quotations in French and German. One footnote outlined eighteenth century aesthetic theories about male anatomy and at least two discussed Immanuel Kant.

I suspect that few - if any - movies show fencers discussing Immanuel Kant over beer in a traditional English pub. I can't think why not. I'd like to see a film with lots of fencing and philosophical discussion. It would be in the great tradition of realist cinema.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I want to go to a English pub with English people! I promise to sit quietly and behave..............mostly.

I watched a movie you would like ( if you have not seen it ) called " On Guard". It is in French and stars Daniel Auteuil. ( It comes with sub titles for people like me.)


4:03 pm  
Blogger kathz said...

I think I'd probably like subtites too. Is the Daniel Auteuil film the one that I know as "Le Bossu"? If so, my brother gave me the DVD as a birthday present a couple of years ago. It's one of my favourites.

English pubs vary and sitting quietly is not always required. Swordplay is rare, however.

4:36 pm  

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