stabbing Santa Claus
Because of the icy pavements, I hadn't visited all the shops I'd intended. My fencing kit was sadly short of tinsel. However, before the snow fell, I had bought a pair of felt reindeer antlers, They had the added advantage of small lights that would flash cheerfully whenever I pressed a button while the headband emitted a faint tune. I wasn't sure that "Jingle Bells" was quite what I needed to strike fear into the heart of my opponents, but it was certainly festive. I wound some of last year's fluffly lilac tinsel round my wrist. Then I looked round for an opponent.
I started by fencing foil against a boy in Christmas hat with a gold-tinselled sword. All around me santas were battling reindeer, using foil and sabre. The floor was acquiring a light dusting of shredded, glittering tinsel.
Perhaps the best costume involved gold tinsel sewn to fencing jackets and breeches combined with orange gloves, trimmed with white fur and beads, a santa hat and - the winning touch - a long white Santa beard apparently descending from the fencing mask. "Epée?" I asked Santa.
I pressed the button on my antlers so that I could advance to the reassuring sound of "Jingle Bells." Sadly the lights had stopped working after a few hits. It was a little hard to adopt a threatening demeanour and I was worried that my sword might tangle in Santa's beard. Still, we fenced for some time and I took great pleasure in stabbing Santa Claus.
It wasn't the most vigorous or dedicated evening of fencing, though I did get some really useful advice on wrist action in parrying. I'd known before that I needed to make my attacks and parries far more precise but there's a difference between knowing the theory and suddenly feeling the practice click into place. The coach who spent time with me told me exactly what I needed to know at just the right time - I hope I can hold that knowledge through the holidays. Many fencers paused to photograph bouts, to exchange cards or simply to watch the fencers. Someone borrowed a large broom from the leisure centre staff and a foilist and sabreuse spent time clearing the floor of Christmas sparkle.
The evening ended with a visit to the pub. I cadged a lift from one of the coaches (in a jaguar!) and enjoyed a glass of mulled ale and more conversation with my fellow fencers. Sadly, the leisure centre is closed between Christmas and New Year and I shan't be fencing again till mid-January. However, I can look forward to the fencing club Christmas dinner in the New Year, just as all the festivities are winding down into January bleakness.
Merry Christmas - and I hope you have a happy and peaceful New Year - apart from whatever amount of enjoyable and consensual violence you would choose.