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, July 17, 2008

missing fencing and watching the nationals

I was looking forward to fencing. It was a tough day at work so I was happy to anticipate the joy of stabbing someone. Not the chef, as she was staying away, but surely someone would give me the opportunity of a few hits.

But the computer I'd borrowed had different ideas. Perhaps it feared I was neglecting it. Or perhaps it was cross about overwork - I'd been typing frantically on the train. I got into work, plugged in my laptop, switched it on, and ... nothing.

I'd copied most of the paper I was writing elsewhere but the media files were another matter. I begged the technicians for help. Although busy, they found time to look at the computer and eventually managed to copy most of the files. It was the media files that were missing.

One of the technicians stayed late to help. I was ever so grateful but my hand itched to hold my epee. I could go late, I thought, as the technician finally searched in vain for the missing files. "Leave it with me," he said at last. "I'll do it tonight or in the morning."

I'd planned to work on the paper that day and was beginning to wonder how much I could do after fencing. Work and anxiety had added to my tiredness. Still, I promised myself, I could manage an hour ... just a couple of bouts.

As I struggled out of the building with books and bags, I realised how heavy the rain was. I was glad I'd put on my summer mac ... until the rain started to leak through before I'd left the courtyard. After ten minutes I was soaked to the skin, apart from my feet. I was so soaked I didn't notice the inches-deep puddle.

Before I reached the station, I knew I wasn't going to fence. Twenty-five minutes in a train wearing wet clothes was no preparation for anything but a hot bath and a good meal. Besides, I would work on my paper.

Gloomily, after supper, I sat down to write more, only to discover I'd left the main book I needed in my office. It wasn't a good day.

Despite the setbacks, the paper happened. I wondered what to do when it was over, especially as my son was staying with friends for the weekend. I didn't wonder for long. Friends from my fencing club were competing in the nationals so I decided to take the train to Sheffield to support them.

It was easy enough to find my way from the station to the tram and from there to the English Institute of Sport. And as soon as I arrived I saw a club member whose wife was fencing in the women's sabre competition. He gave me directions, which I promptly forgot at the sight of the huge main hall with its indoor athletics tracks set out with more than thirty pistes. I watched the epeeists for a while, trying to see Jon Willis, but was unlucky. Still, I marvelled at the skill and speed, wishing I could be half as good.

Eventually I found my way to the second hall, where the sabreurs were camping. Their poules didn't begin till the afternoon but they had brought drinks and the kind of picnics that help fencers maintain their energy levels. I can't remember how many pistes there were in all - at least 54 in the glossy new building. Our leisure centre is pretty good but this was in another league. But there were the usual bags of fencing kit left at the edge of the arena and fencers in kit called up to referee. And while I welcomed the friendliness of the cafe staff and the cheapness of the food - I could afford lunch - the food itself was sadly tasteless. Perhaps my standards have risen since I started using an organic delivery scheme.

The fortunes of our club fencers varied. It was a shame to meet our best foilist - still in his mid-teens - and hear that his usual good form had deserted him after his first two poule bouts. He didn't make the cut. The sabreurs did better and I watched one woman, who started fencing when I did, gradually improve through her poule to win her final bout 5-0.

I would have liked to stay for the sabre Direct Eliminations but I felt tiredness steal up on me again. I drifted to the main hall and watched more epee. Then I headed back for the tram, train and home.

Later I heard that many of our club sabreurs had done well and they'd had a great day.

Two memories stay with me. There was an epeeist - I didn't see his name - swearing at himself and trying to force himself to win through anger. It didn't work. After he lost his temper with himself, he didn't score another hit. It was so unlike the bout on a neighbouring piste where a young epeeist stayed calm and defended well, making it hard for his stronger, more experienced opponent to gain points. The young epeeist lost too but he stayed calm and competed well, right till the end, and his bout was a pleasure to watch.

The other memory was to do with breeches. I couldn't stop myself from asking a young sabreuse, "Where did you get your breeches?" "Leon Paul," she replied. "They make them specially for the Cornish team." I know I don't live in Cornwall and I know I'm not a good enough fencer but I want to be in the Cornish team. They get to fence in BLACK breeches.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would have loved to see that event!

Black knickers sound cool. They also sound illegal here. I thought it was an FIE rule.

I am going post on the Fencing.net forum and find out about this.

While I to covet the black knickers, I would feel like I was pretending to be a "master".


12:20 am  
Anonymous Katie said...

Is it wrong to find the word knickers comical?

I would like very much to have black breeches, because my white ones make me look like a giant toddler.

12:37 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Black breeches are nice, but in my next life, I want to fence for Wales. They have _dragons_ on the backs of their jackets!

5:08 pm  

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