the holiday problem
It was a very good Christmas dinner. There were lots of treats over the season, from Christmas cake to gluehwein. Because of the cold, I didn't go out much but sat at home, as close to a heater as I could manage. I had a few anxieties as the return to fencing approached. Some were to do with my general unfitness but others were connected with the more serious problem: would I still fit into my breeches. They are always slightly tight after washing and relax as I move in them but this time I feared a serious problem. I was right to worry. The phone rang as I was getting changed and it was hard to explain the strange noises caused by breathing in and tugging hard at the zip.
I decided not to bother with jeans over breeches and cycled off, white-legged, toward the leisure centre. After the effort to squeeze into my breeches, they seemed to shape themselves around me well enough. They haven't split so far, at least.
Fencing was another matter. I was plainly out of practice and prepared for the familiar sensation of fencing through jelly. I welcomed the pauses for conversation, hearing tales from the first competition of the year, in which club fencers had done well. Less frequent fencers had shared the anxiety about breeches although the Man man proclaimed proudly that he hadn't put on a single pound over Christmas. As I don't possess scales I don't worry about what I weight - it seems more important to know how much energy I have and whether my clothes still fit. And I certainly don't regret good holiday food and drink - the highlight was an excellent New Year's Eve dinner cooked by the chef, preceded by champagne and accompanied by fine wine.
Eventually I turned to fencing and was pleased that the good epeeists who turned up seemed happy to spend time encouraging me. While I was slow, I could, on occasion, be accurate and was happy to land a fair number of arm-hits. A particularly helpful left-hander worked on my en garde, which had slipped, as though he had never mentioned it before, He helped me to change my stance and I suddenly felt more comfortable. He even praised my attempts at lunges, which weren't very deep.
I fenced the four other epeeists who were free and then left early - I was tired and had an early start the following morning. But I determined to take more exercise.
For months I'd been turning down Sunday invitations so that I could do housework and work. But when, at Meeting, one of my friends suggested a swim, more out of habit than anything else, I said yes. As soon as I got home I packed my black Speedo with a towel, shampoo and shower gel - and wondered if I could remember how to swim. The lengths at the public baths are 25 metres and I set myself the goal of 30 lengths in the medium lane.
It was neither a disaster nor a triumph. I stopped after every six lengths for half a minute or so, and began to feel a little tired after 28 lengths. I did my 30, pulled myself out of the pool and headed to the showers, where I enjoyed the treat of some Christmas shower gel from my daughter. It got rid of the chlorine smell very nicely.
So I'm not fit and can only just squeeze into my breeches. But I'm still fencing.