Holiday at last. Well, almost. I’m back at my parents’ house a little early this year to help out with a radio play my dad is staging. The fact that I just said “staging” should be raising a few eyebrows. My dad is trying to recreate all the fun/insanity of watching a radio play being recorded live, including microphones, multiple parts, and that silly person knocking cups together to do the “live effects”. (That silly person, in this case, being me.) On the upside, this somewhat unusual format means that the actors don’t have to learn any lines, as they can quite legitimately be holding their scripts the entire time. On the downside, it also means that (for the first time since Infants School Nativity) I have to be on the stage.
This idea has left me just a little bit wobbly. When it comes to theatre, I’m very firmly a techy person. Actors go on stage, and I sit in a little black box hidden away at the back (sometimes reading a book if there are long breaks between cues). This time, I’m going to have to sit very still and very quiet on stage. A small relief is that I seem to have finally stopped sneezing.
The sneezing began last weekend, on day two of the National BUCS Individuals Fencing Competition in Nottingham. By day three, the world was a strange, somewhat unsteady place, featuring a mind-swelling sort of headache and the uneasy suspicion that I might throw-up at any moment. (Not a good idea when wearing a fencing mask as it tends to result in “the sieve effect”.) Unfortunately, day three was also the day when I was supposed to be fencing my favourite weapon, foil. So I thought, ill or not, I’d give it a go anyway.
The first problem was of staying upright on the piste (long rectangle you fence on). The sports hall was swaying a little by the time my fights started, so I quickly settled on a technique of using my opponent to judge whether I was standing straight. This seemed to work. I only completely fell over once (although there were a few near misses when I tried to attempt anything risky like actually attacking). Unsurprisingly, my fencing that day wasn’t the best I’ve ever done.
Then again, neither was the weekend before. Every year, Warwick University hosts a fencing competition specifically for novices. This year, I ended up in charge of taking a number of our new beginners along to it. At time of turning up, we had exactly the number of body-wires to go round. However, anyone who has ever fenced foil will tell you that a foil body-wire is about as reliable as an umbrella made of kitchen roll. Two broke within twenty minutes of each other, leading to a lively game of “musical wires” as we swapped them back and forth to keep everyone fencing.
Somewhere in the resulting chaos, I’m sure I did fence a few bouts, but all memory of how I did is lost in the utter relief that, come the end of the trip, I still had exactly the same number of beginners as I started with. Missing/broken body-wires can be replaced. Missing/broken students are a little harder to explain.