The only aim I can have is to maintain my fencing at its current, low level. There are worse things than this. When I stop fencing for a while, my skills deteriorate and my sword no longer sits easily in my hand. At least I still get the occasional hit. But there's not much to report on a blog.
Still, it's good to see the new beginners. And it was fun to take part in the one-hit epée (for an Easter egg trophy) last week. There was the usual mix of levels, ages, sizes and fencing styles as the epéeists were joined by foilists and sabreurs.
We began in two pools of seven but then late-comers arrived and wanted to join in. Our pool expanded to nine. As usual, most of the time was spent in wiring up, sharing equipment and testing weapons. And there were some unexpected results with two good sabreurs unable to reach the final fence-off after a couple of doubles (scored as a double defeat).
At the beginning, facing good fencers, I did what I could to defend and stay out of reach but lacked the aggression that might just have achieved a lucky hit. I began to realise this and at least managed a lengthy, attacking bout against a tall fencer who had barely fenced epée before but was on a winning streak. He not only beat me but was one of the two from the pool to qualify for the semi-final.
I noticed that an excellent young foilist who made the semi-finals last year had been unlucky in her first bouts - and it seemed to have affected her confidence. She's a dangerous left-hander who I've faced without success in one-hit and in club competitions. As I wired up to face her I could see her uncertainty. When the referee said "Play," she seemed to pause for a moment. I didn't - I charged forward, clumsily but as fast as I could, and made the hit a moment before she reacted.
For a moment I was delighted - it was my first hit after a run of defeats and not one I'd expected. But then I saw the disappointment on my opponent's face and felt sorry. I tried to say something encouraging but she plainly felt awful. She hadn't merely been beaten by a weaker fencer - I'm old enough to be her grandmother.
In the end, I managed two hits out of eight - not good but not as bad as I'd feared. I was sorry that the Easter egg went to a sabreur this year but at least there were small creme eggs for all competitors. And, whatever my doctor advises, I don't think my back is getting any worse because of the fencing.