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, January 16, 2009


It was nearly time for the fencing Christmas dinner. A little late, perhaps - I'd taken down my Christmas tree the previous day - but the fencing club tradition includes a Christmas dinner when the holiday season had ended.

I hadn't exactly solved my fashion dilemma but I'd reached an accommodation with it, thanks to the discovery of an old, but quite well-cut, black wool dress in the back of my wardrobe. I bought it years ago to look smart in an understated sort of way and thought it might be possibly to add something glittery. I planned to buy a red scarf to go with my new red handbag, or something in pale grey and silver, so that I could wear my new grey shoes. As I hate shopping, I found excuses to avoid trips to the shops, thinking I could leave it a day or two. Then work got busy in the week of the dinner and I hadn't bought the scarf I wanted. I settled on a green shawl with sparkly thread and added long sparkly earrings with a matching necklace. I even found my old make-up bag. There was some powder left, the lipstick hadn't broken and the mascara still worked! I felt remarkably lucky. It must be nearly six months since I last wore make-up - probably on my trip to see Cyrano de Bergerac at the Comedie Francaise. By the time I'd stepped into my black high-heeled shoes I felt almost glamorous.

It didn't last of course. An old dress, a shawl, some jewellery and make-up were never going to compete with the colourful cocktail dresses on display. I felt a bit like the dowager aunt or the governess in the corner when I saw all the frocks. The men were peacocking too, with their bow ties, dinner jackets and colourful waistcoats. I wondered if I should sit with the children and waved at a young fencer, shyly elegant in red, who was present with her father. But one of the epeeists called hallo from the bar, following this with the welcome words, "What would you like?" With a glass of wine in my hand, I began to relax.

The meal was better than I'd expected and the kitchen staff, learning I was one of the two vegetarians, were quick to assure me that the potatoes had been roasted in oil and the Yorkshire puddings cooked in butter. There was a good range of vegetables to go with my quorn fillet and the meal brought back memories of the sort of meals my family used to enjoy on special Sundays: good, filling food in lavish quantities. I had melon with sorbet to start and crumble to finish, followed by coffee.

But no-one goes to the fencing dinner just for the meal. There was a quiz and there were awards so it was a time of celebration. I joined others sitting at my table for the quiz and found that I knew some things that my fellow team-members didn't. Usually I contribute literary knowledge but this time my successes include correct answers to questions on sport (In which year did a British man last win the singles title at Wimbledon?), science (How is ascorbic acid better known?) and pop music (Which was the highest selling British single of 2008?). I hope my knowledge took the sabreurs in the team by surprise as it certainly startled me. When the answers were checked it turned out that we had won. So I began the year with a fencing-related victory, even if it didn't involve any swordplay. But the sense of friendship and camaraderie was better than the food or winning the quiz.

A lavish dinner with wine may not be the best preparation for the fencing season but, as I teetered home through the frost, I felt it had been a good night out.

As for those quiz questions, it's easy enough to find out the answers to the sport and science questions. And here's a clue to the pop question though unfortunately the composer and performer on the video didn't reach number one with his version of the song.

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Anonymous Katie said...

I am still unconvinced by the 'quorn fillet'. Is is a piece of quorn from which all the bones have been removed?

10:34 pm  
Blogger kathz said...

I can confirm a complete absence of bones from my quorn fillet.

6:25 am  
Anonymous Katie said...

my mother once went to a chinese vegetarian restaurant where they inserted bones made of bamboo to make the fake meat more authentic.

2:05 pm  

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