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

Thursday, April 10, 2008

spag. bol. and daleks


You may choose to stop reading here, but I suspect most fencers have had the experience of injury, although being hit by a flying sabre blade or stabbed by an unbaited epee is far more glamorous than a tumble from a ladder.

I am not entirely immobilised. I went shopping (by taxi, which felt luxurious) and even managed a day in the office (more taxis). I even managed a pub lunch with a friend. It helps to have an excellent local. And I dreamed about fencing.

The doctor signed me off work for ten days. When I asked him, he said very firmly that I mustn't fence last week, because any epee hit would aggravate the injury so that it would take far longer to heal. For a while I thought this might mean that I could fence this week, even though I was signed off work - some lack of logic there.

But I noticed I was tiring easily. Even the shopping trip left me shaky. And my leg remained stiff and painful, although the bruise, from my knee to the top of my thigh, was no longer the original deep purple. The day before fencing, I acknowledged that an ability to climb the stairs at home wasn't quite the same as agility on the epee piste. And I recognized that a light epee touch to the bruise might be even more painful than an affectionate cat patting me gently in his quest for food. Brief ideas of a little light foil were discarded too - my career as The Limping Blade would have to wait. I would spend the evening at home having supper in front of the TV.

The idea became more appealing when my daughter announced that she would cook supper, assisted by her boyfriend (the occasional sabreur). They are good cooks with a growing repertoire of dishes. Today's choice was the student staple spaghetti bolognese (vegetarian version with Quorn mince). As they took over the kitchen and began to chop garlic, I settled down on the sofa to watch the TV.

I rarely watch television although, at the moment, I have a weekly engagement with Doctor Who. I watched the first episode in 1963, when the Doctor was a stern, unpredictable grandfather, and have followed it ever since. The peak of my addiction was the period when Douglas Adams was script editor and occasional author and the doctor was reincarnated as Tom Baker, with wild hair, an absurdly long scarf and a penchant for jelly babies. My children had to make do with repeats when they were growing up, as there were no new series between 1989 and 2005, though there was a film. Then Doctor Who returned, better than ever, and I'm an addict again.

Instead of fencing, there was a programme that took me back to TV in my childhood. It was about live TV, back in the days when television dramas were broadcast as they were acted and repeats were repeat performances, often with a different technical crew. I don't know if any Doctor Who episodes were broadcast live - I wasn't paying enough attention - but at some point in the evening there was clip of the all-important episode that introduced the daleks.

Doctor Who and his companions move about time in their spaceship, the Tardis, which disconcertingly resembles (from the outside) a 1960s police telephone box. Originally the programme was intended to be educational - no aliens but history and scientific theory for children. Then the daleks arrived. They are impervious to usual methods of attack and their chief aims are domination of the solar system and the extermination of "inferior" species, such as humans. Their mechanical voices would rise to a screech as they repeated "EX-TERM-I-NATE .... EX-TERM-I-NATE", blasting fire and rays at the unfortunate beings who writhed in agony before them. They were deliciously scary and, when I was 9-years-old, I would hold my arms stiffly and attempt the dalek glide in the primary school playground. We were all daleks, screeching "
EX-TERM-I-NATE" at one another.

It's not so sophisticated as fencing. But the early daleks had a problem that regularly led to their overthrow: they couldn't go upstairs. Their thought processes were remorselessly logical too; imaginative fantasy confused them. And while daleks have become streamlined and colour-coded for the 21st century, those old black and white daleks took me back to my childhood and Saturday evening viewing: Juke Box Jury
followed by Doctor Who.

Supper was wonderful. Tagliatelli, which I prefer, had been used instead of spaghetti and the sauce was plentiful and well-flavoured. Every so often I would exclaim, "I remember that," or "Look, it's a dalek" and the teenagers would say "yes, mum," in a tone suggesting they were humouring the old. A glass of wine distracted me from my aching leg.

It must have been good for me. I'm definitely feeling better today. Next week, surely, I'll be fencing again.

Doctor Who is brilliant - but it would be improved by a bit more swordplay.

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