fencing the air force
I had a further incentive. The club president is now acting as armourer and had displayed a price list for weaponry repairs. Last week my best epée failed to register hits and was plainly in need of re-wiring.
I've watched instructions on how to rewire an epée and looked at the helpful advice on the Leon Paul website. It led to the inescapable conclusion that, even if I had all the necessary equipment, I lack the time and ability to do a good job. I was pleased to be reunited with my healthy and much-loved epée, although I suspect I was under-charged for the work.
Inspired by the reunion with my epée, I happily accepted a challenge from one of the intermediate fencers. He's a foilist really, and less experienced than me. However he was clearly the better fencer last week and I wanted to prove to myself (and him) that I could do better. Luckily I observed his habit of lifting his wrist, offering a target to my attack. I caught him on the hand twice before explaining what he was doing wrong. After that, his hand was protected but I was pleased to manage a few more hits on his arm. At least I could once more hit a moving target.
I'm still tiring easily so didn't fence for as long as I would have liked. Instead I started watching one of the epée league contests, between our club and a local university. One of the club fencers, who is a member of both, chose to fence for the university who won by two or three points in a close battle. Then my club took on the Royal Air Force.
I noticed the cold as I stood watching. There hasn't been any snow for a couple of weeks but most nights are frosty and it felt as though the frost had invaded the leisure centre. The parents sitting round the edge were hunched into scarves and warm jackets. I was surprised to be so aware of the cold, despite wearing fencing kit. I hoped I'd get another bout soon.
As a campaigning pacifist, I sometimes find myself handing out leaflets outside army bases. I've met a range of people from the armed forces in various circumstances. Usually I like them as people, and the soldiers I've met through fencing seem particularly kind and friendly. This doesn't stop me opposing their military activities and, of course, I hoped that the club would beat the RAF.
Of course, we weren't fencing the entire RAF - only their local representatives, including some who were relatively new to fencing. Still, it was good to see my club score an easy victory. As there was no-one around to fence, I watched the whole match, getting colder and colder, and some of the friendly bouts that followed.
Someone suggested I fence the woman from the RAF. I was a bit worried about this. She may have been in the losing team and less experienced but she was plainly physically fit and less than half my age. Still, it was a chance for a bout and I wouldn't get much fencing if I said no. I briefly reflected on the complex ethics of fencing against members of the armed forces, then concentrated on attaching my wire and saluting.
She was, of course, better than me. However the member of the RAF who was presided complimented me on a parry and praised my technique! I managed a couple of doubles and one neat hit and determined to keep fighting. I went for the lowest lunge I could manage and felt a muscle strain in my calf. It was a familiar sensation - the second time this year and the third time in five months. I was losing anyway so could say nothing. I limped through to the inevitable defeat and watched some more. Then I tried to fence a fellow club member. After three points I gave up.
My calf still hurts but is recovering. One fencer suggested muscles to strengthen my calf. I think I probably needed exercises to warm up but I'm not experienced enough to tell. This time no-one has started a sentence with the words, "At your age ..." - at least, not yet.