I think I could do with a squire - not that I could afford one. I don't like the idea of having a servant but a squire might be a sort of apprentice, who could undertake helpful tasks while viewing me with respect.
The chef occasionally undertakes the sort of tasks I might entrust to a squire. For instance, she helps me zip up my jacket. (If I'm ever rich, I'm going to buy a fencing jacket with a zip at the side.) Sometimes she holds my sword bag while I get onto my bike. But I'm afraid that, as she admitted at the pub after fencing, she doesn't view me with the respect I'd get from a squire. For instance, she watches me get on my bike with fencing kit for the entertainment value.
While I lack a proper squire, there are plenty of people who help along the way. For instance, there's the cobbler. At the chef's suggestion, I took my sword bag, which had an awkward hole just the size of a foil-blade, to the local cobbler. I don't think he'd ever been asked to mend a sword bag before but he assessed the task, worked out what would be required, asked for £3.95 and gave me a receipt for the bag. When I returned two days later, he didn't demand the receipt - for some reason he remembered me. He'd fixed the bag with a neat leather patch which reinforces the whole bottom of the bag.
Another helper came to the rescue at fencing. This time it wasn't me who required help but the newish left-handed foilist (and occasional eppeeist). When I entered the women's changing rooms I found her searching for a lost earring - a special one that had been a 21st birthday present. Apparently she'd taken both off carefully before putting them carefully in a plastic bag - only to discover that the bag had a hole in the bottom. One earring was safe but the other had vanished. Together we searched everywhere - even a rubbish bin - and came to the conclusion that there was only one place left: inside the grille of the radiator behind the bench. The chef joined us as we headed to the reception to ask for help. A young man accompanied us back to the women's changing room. He assessed the problem and realised that the radiator would have to be dismantled - then told us to continue fencing while he looked. He came into the hall half an hour later with the missing earring in his hand. I noticed that he'd cut himself dismantling and reassembling the grille. He was blushing - I think with pride in his achievement but he may also have been embarrassed by the time spent in the women's changing room.
Either the cobbler of the dismantler of radiators would make an excellent squire. They have such useful skills. I think the chef would prefer to recruit her hairdresser who is called George and, in her view, "lovely." He certainly did an excellent job of cutting her hair, though she worried that it wasn't staying straight and in place under her fencing mask. Apparently George is also expensive so perhaps he wouldn't want to be a squire, even though the chef is planning her move to Paris which would provide him with opportunities for travel and a new clientele. And I fear I don't have the fencing skills that a good squire might wish me to impart.
Lately, I have not been fencing well. I like to blame tiredness, since I've been short of sleep. But I fear there are other causes: an insistent ache in my right shoulder and the continuing problem of policeman's foot. And then there's ageing. Perhaps I can't ever expect to get any better, which is a sad thought. Sometimes I wonder if I'll continue fencing after the summer. I'd like to continue, I think - but am I good enough to go on?