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Stickfight

Rat Scratching #5b

Rat Scratching #5b (13/05/04 - 15/07/04)

You will have to excuse this part of the stickfight rant, as I am ratted. after having a lesson with Steve Paul (is it me or are morning lessons far more tiring than evenings ones) I have skived the fight night at Haverstock as well as Redhill and Reigate and gone out and got drunk with work, after a happy night which involved explaining about a blokes basic needs (1. feed me 2. shag me) to a woman who landed at our table who after becoming a spinster because she had note got a male after 9 months, I have finally got back to life and fencing (don’t ask me!!, in fact do ask, is it me or do all women apart from my wife want to keep a full table width away from me, as my wife says the words “rabid dog” best apply, but never mind that back to fencing)

this stickfight rant is mainly about club locations, and how they variety, some are custom built, some are just standard calls or gyms mugged for the use of fencing, lets take the ones I knew personally each in turn, 126 first (famous or rather infamous for being the only fencing club in Britain to be held in a bar) has now moved to County Hall hotel near Westminster bridge (thou the bar claim can still be kept up as the gym is on the 5/6 floor and their is a bar on the 1st, so in fact 126 is now “the only flub to be help 4 stories above a bar”) , a fabulous place (though the gym is quite small) for fencing in which I believe the gym gets more from it than the fencing club ( they have just got Jo Maynard to work as a personal fitness instructor) does, so the hotel can put fencing down as one of its sports and also put “fitness instructors include members of the common wealth team”. (To give you an idea of how post this place is, you just have to look at the little hand towels they have for you when you are in the gym, they are PRE-DAMPENED!!, now this is officially to cool you off, but I think its so really rich people don’t have to sweat, I am willing to bet that the bottle they spray the towels with contains specially selected sweat from Russian sweat shops {sweat shops - get it SWEAT……SHOPS….. oh never mind}, but I ask my self if there is not a business opportunity here, could we not collect the sweat of nubile fencers and sell it to such rich people as the highest quality sweat, i mean if we out our feet in plastic bags while fencing it would work like a charm {URGENT EDITORS NOTE: if you see stickfight approach you during a comp carrying 2 small plastics, RUN!!!, make it to the tree line before its to late}) The view from the fencing area is fabulous (though I have not personally partaken of it as 6’4” blokes wandering around on roof tops carrying swords attracts the kind of attention I would rather avoid) and as of this mo we have not been allowed access to the showers (Note: This has changed since writing {see my top 5 fencing wash rooms}), but there is no denying the in fact that you often get 1 to 1 training at 126 (Marc Bengry is always their, and sometimes people Like Joanne Beadsworth) and the facilitys some of the best looking (you get to walk in/out of a posh London hotel looking as scruffy as hell with swords trailing on the ground),

Next Redhill and Reigate, a club at a large school, getting their without a car is a total sod in the winter and a total dream in the summer due the fact that it is about 20 mins walk over a golf course, but when you are there, there is room for Africa (not to mention tons of working boxes) the hall you fight in is big enough for a comp. (e-mail Chris if you think this is a good idea), but alas no showers (and a very naff tap to fill up water bottles from, but as a compensation the club as a whole group goes to drink at one of the best pubs a have ever been to after each night. also the number do not fluctuate hugely as they do at other clubs, there is nearly always 20 plus people of all ages to fight.

Now LTFC (London Thames Fencing Club) a custom built salle with proper working metal pistes set at St. Paul’s school, it vies with Haverstock for the position of best epee club in Britain (although Sussex house seems determined to take that honour) when you enter the salle you are in no doubt that fencing is what is due to go on here, the club is a bit of a bugger to get to if you don’t have a car, and I personally find the buses a pain in the sword bag (I can make it in 12 mins from the tube train door to on pieste, but it does involve punting over a spiky iron fence and running across the field clanking and trying to ignore the stares of the people going over Hammersmith bridge { Oh.. I have a theory about Hammersmith station, I believe it is a cattle zone, i,e, people that go into it temporary turn into cows and sheep….No NO , I don’t mean literally, I mean their minds turn into cattle minds e.g. {and this has happened a number of times} you are getting ready to get off the tube and just as you approach the door someone steps in front of you and gets ready to rush out as soon as the door is opened, that OK you think, if we both whoosh out the door, up the stairs and out the station “fast through put, keep pushing that zar” {editors: What??} the train stops, i tense, the doors open, we both shoot forward, “SMACK”, me two swords and a bag with kevlar in it crumps into the bloke as with one foot on the platform he slows to snails pace, he turns as my impact cursing, and I see the eyes that were once quick silver now have the look of something that goes “MOO”, freaked out I Jink round him and start up the stairs only to find that people are not so much moving at working pace as plodding at grassing speed, trying to ignore the couple who look as if they are chewing cud and shutting my ears to the noise of bleating, I dive out of what I personally consider the twilight zone of the tube line and make my escape). it should be also noted that Hammersmith does a good line in night buses which go pretty much anywhere (a good one is the N10 to kingscross). the club does a have a good share of drinking fountains and even a chilled filter to fill up your water bottle, it is very well supplied on the coach side with 2 epee coaches and 1 sabre coach their at any time. but LTFC people could not queue if their lives depended on it ( I include my self in this description ) so it is very informal grab a box system with a lot of chattering ( sometimes the coaches yell at people to stop talking and get fighting), drinks afterwards are a strange thing, their is no specific pub or time and it is very much a case of which bunch of people you are talking to as the where/whether you go.

Havestock should also be in here but, I am going to defer it for a couple of weeks due to the fact they are relocating to a school near the angel ( a good decision in my view as it has a lot of good pubs near it, in fact there is a good pub crawl you can do from Highbury/Islington down the main road to the angel, stopping at all the many many nice pubs on the way, and can you can get tanked up cheaply at the start of the crawl at the Wetherspoons just out side the station), I think the move is a good one for Haverstock and they are now near the not just the northern line but the silverlink and Victoria lines, not to mention a shed load of busses like the 277 to/from Docklands .

Lansdowne, a private salle which is part of a private club (as this translates and people will not nick stuff out of the changing room), with nice cold filtered water {Editor: WHAT is it with you and the bloody water??, you come from Skegness and they drink sheep urine their}, it is also where you stand the best chance of getting a private lesson with Steve Paul, the people are also very friendly and they have excellent piste with duel score boards, and no time limit as the salle is dedicated, but you have to get invited their (or be bloody pushy like me), they drink upstairs in the club afterwards, for which I think you have to get invited again, but I have not dared to go as when fencing I am a very scruffy sod {as an antidote from life in corporate London} (disqualified from the human race for pushing!!!) and most of these clubs usually make you wear a jacket and tie (suppose I better check on that before making final comment)

My top 3 fencing bathrooms (why???, don’t ask me I’m only writing this stuff)

3) LTFC - It at least has got one, although there seems to be a constant battle with the students over the shower heads, they are unscrewed and moved, and nicked, finally they gave been replaced with the kind I suspect you get in prisons, which are fine but means you have to flatten yourself against the wall in order to get wet which in turns makes a bathroom full of LTFC fencers look like a squashed from convention

2) Lansdowne club - nice bathroom NICE BATHROOM, free soap, soft white towels, and the showers OHHH, nice, they are the old style ones that look like a cross between a sunflower and a trifid, but throw the Atlantic at you in lots of little bits, as a visual guide it looks like an old style public school changing room (no surprise three) and a pleasure to use.

1) 126 - Oh heck, this is just heaven, when I for a sough it the first time, I went in and out of the place a couple of time to make sure that I had not stepped into a timewarp or something. but no it is real, perhaps a little guided tour would be best, ….and on your right as you go in you will see gentlemen that there are complementary bathrobes to wear and soft white towels for you to use, further in perhaps you would like to rest and watch TV on one of the many comfy chairs that litter the walls?..No..well let us progress…once you have got undressed and put your garments in the oak lockers in the oak panelled rooms, perhaps you would like a shower, this way please…yes sir that is a machine for drying you swimming trunks!! {weird!!!}, and on your right we have separate sauna and steam rooms, on you left an plunge bath and whirl pool…sir whishes to try that now…Ok please get in and push the large white button…No sir calm down…it OK..Godzilla is not coming to get you its just it gives off rather a lot of bubbles…next week have the showers..all individual cubical with little smoked glass doors and complementary conditioning shampoo and shower gel..no sir you can not have two people to help you stand up in the torrent, I am afraid you must handle it your self,..now once sir has get up from the floor, I can show sir the sinks with free complementary cotton buds and comb washer (you could not make it up)…… What a place to get wet.

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