[Smashy the Hammer] [An Aspiring Luddite]
I carry no phone
An aspiring Luddite
In a wired world.
[Jeff Berry]
Jeff Berry is an early adopter of the Internet and the Web, a late adopter of Twitter, and declines to adopt Facebook. With the death of Google+, he's experimenting with federated platforms. He admins a medievalist Mastodon instance, and can found on t he PlusPora diaspora pod. He hates cell-phones.


Previous Entry

First Entry

Thirty-Five Years With Blade in Hand
Part Two
A Youth Spent in the SCA

In the first half of 1984, I was finishing up my junior year of high school. (For UK readers, that's year 12, Lower Sixth Form, I think?) I recall spending time in one class, Science with Doyle Oswald, if I'm not mistaken, working on a good SCA name. Alexandre was chosen in honour of Alexandre Dumas. Lerot ... I'm not sure of the whys and wherefores of Lerot. d'Avigné was a nod to d'Artagnan, of course. When I submitted the name sometime later, I ticked the box for 'allow minor changes,' and in March of 1987, it was duly registered as Alexandre Lerot d'Avignon, and I have used d'Avignon and d'Avigné more-or-less interchangeably ever since. The registration was several years down the road, however.

I started to put together the proverbial attempt at pre-17th century clothing. As a high-schooler of limited resources, this meant that my first few attempts were not spectacular. There was a shop in the local mall which had 'peasant shirts,' so I got one of those. I found a pair of very large trousers at a thrift store, and asked my mom to sew elastic around the cuffs so they would blouse properly - and by 'properly,' I mean 'they way I wanted them to. I bought some fabric and wanted to make a tunic. My mom was happy to help me make the tunic. Add to that a cloak that my mother had made for a high school production of Dracula (adapted from Woody Allen's version in "Getting Even" with yours truly as the vampire), and I was set. For some values of set. For a while.

As should already be apparent, my parents were very supportive of my early SCA activities. They encouraged me to cook from a very young age, and that has been another through line in my SCA career. In addition, my mother taught me the rudiments of sewing, so that I could take a stab (so to speak) at making some of my own clothes. I am a terrible tailor, but, if pressed, I can make something simple to wear, thanks to that early training. Complex outfits ... well, that's another matter, and more of that anon.

Most of my first few months were spent locally, at fighter practices and local events in Caerthe or Caer Galen, just up the road. My crowd was, naturally enough, mostly fencers. Charles was teaching two other people as well as me: Patrick Perdu aka Patrick the Lost (eventually registered officially as Patrick of the Quietwood), who worked with Charles at Martin Marietta, now a Laurel, and still in Caerthe the last I knew; and Grimkirk ap Greymoor, who moved to the Middle Kingdom sometime in the late 80s, I believe. There were some others in the group: Guillaume de Gonzac, Marc (Marcus) Silverthorne, John of Temple Manor, and Reeve aka Angelique Rivez de Hellsgate, later 34th White Scarf of the Outlands. There were other fencers, of course; there was a relatively robust program in Aarquelle (Pueblo, CO), and a strong presence in al-Barran (Albuquerque, NM), what I thought of as the other major Barony. There were four baronies in the Outlands at the time - Caerthe and al-Barran were the oldest and largest, Dragonsspine (Colorado Springs, CO) was nearby but didn't figure largely in my earliest years, probably because there wasn't much fencing, and Citadel of the Southern Pass, which was centered on El Paso, Texas, much too far for a high school boy to easily reach. It was pretty far to travel even when I was older, about 690 miles, although I managed it a few times. But I digress.

It was John of Temple Manor who provided a memorable moment from those early years when he was facing someone in a tournament on a very large field. At the lay on, he and his opponent were a great distance apart - in my mind, it was half a football field, although it probably wasn't. John took his guard and began to advance, with proper form, toward his foe. His opponent took a casual, devil-may-care posture, while waiting for John to get in range. Step by step, or rather advance by advance, John approached. Then he lunged, a full deep lunge. His target never even came on guard. John was at full extension, point in the enemy's chest, while said enemy reflected on the evanescent nature of life. At least, I hope he did. I hope he also reflected on the nature of distance, and the importance of range. There's a lesson there for us all ...

[Site Token] It was the summer of AS XIX, that I made my way to Aarquelle for their second rapier tournament, held at Bishop's Castle. We didn't get to go inside, though, and fought in the dusty road in front of the castle. Mostly I remember a tall fencer with a high guard that I had no idea how to deal with. He killed me a lot. That event was probably the farthest I ventured in those early months.

I almost certainly subscribed to the local newsletter, and probably joined the SCA proper around this time. The newsletters were, as noted before, the best and nearly the only way to get information about events and activities. One of those early issues of the Fortress, the local newsletter, had a drawing of the new King and Queen of Atenveldt, Freana and Richenda, crowned in June in Aarquelle. I wasn't there, the business of Royalty was not on my radar. I didn't make it to a Coronation until the Outlands became a Kingdom. Even the Baroness and Baron of Caerthe didn't figure strongly in my game for the first year or so.

I did start to learn the culture and customs of the SCA - at least as they were practiced locally. Later, I learned that the Outlands was a Western Rite Kingdom. At the time, of course, it was just the way things were - my interest in Inter-Kingdom Anthropology had yet to develop. This meant, for instance, that I grew up 'bowing to furniture' - that is to say, bowing (or at least nodding) to the thrones whether or not the nobles in question occupied them at the moment. The Outlands also had a strong tradition of Masters of/at Arms in the Order of Chivalry. Often, but not always, those who had chosen the baldric rather than the belt had Scandinavian personae. The new King, Freana Geardson, was a Master. So, too, was Gunwaldt Gullbjørn, the first Prince of the Principality of the Outlands. Odan der Halogaland was active in Caerthe, but his activity dropped off in the early 80s; he received his baldric in Atenveldt and doesn't appear in the Outlands OP at all. The distinction, as it was explained to me then, was that the Knights served the Crown, and the Masters served the land ...


Disclaimer: This is based on my memory of the events and people, and although I have bolstered them where possible with references, it is a work of recollection. Errors, omissions, and all such-like are mine.
As an experiment, I'm linking to a Diaspora posting for comments and such.
Comment thread on PlusPora


Luddite'sLog, 11 July 2019
© 2019 Jeff Berry
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