[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.


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

Summer rolled on and this year, in addition to my usual activities - gaming, working at Mile High Comics, and so on - there was the SCA. The big event, at least in my eyes, was Caerthen Warlord and Premier Blade. This was held over Labor Day weekend, and was a camping event. At the time, serving as Premier Blade - the Baronial Rapier Champion, was the highest honour available for a rapier fighter - at least in my eyes. There were no principality or kingdom awards for fencing. Atenveldt doesn't seem to have had a Kingdom Rapier Champion until 1998, and the Outlands was not yet a kingdom. Premier Blade was a Big Deal.

Both Premier Blade (and Warlord) were multi-day, multi-activity competitions. Winning a single tournament didn't do the trick. So over the summer, I practiced with various weapon forms. I think I also bought my first weapons. In the pre-Internet days, this was not quite as simple as it is now. Charles steered me to a man called, I think, Dave Staup. He had a fencing supply company run out of his garage, and I made an appointment to go and buy some equipment. I wanted two epees - one with a right-handed French grip, and one with a left-handed French grip. In 1984, those were the best options for SCA rapier. Or, at least, the best easily available options. Dave asked if I wanted to have a few passes before I left. I said sure. He was more than twice my age - maybe three times it, wore glasses, and was carrying a few extra pounds. He handed me my head, over and over and over again. Timing, distance, point control - all the important advantages were his. Another lesson learned.

For secondaries, I now had a left-handed epee. I don't recall if I had a buckler at this point or not. My first buckler (when I did acquire one) was a small aluminum pot lid with a black plastic knob. I could hold the knob between the first and second fingers of my left hand and flick it around. I don't think I had a dagger at this point. The only daggers we had were cut-down epees, used for parrying only, and I don't think I had a chance to break a blade yet. For cloak ... well.

When I was in elementary school, one of my friends and I decided to become superheroes. We would be The Masked Avengers. (This was not the same friend and I who decided to become the much shorter lived heroes, Captain Crown and Crownie.) The Masked Avengers probably lasted a whole summer when we were 7 or 8 years old. My mother made us capes with hoods that had masks that came down over our eyes. Mine was black. It was the Best Fencing Cloak Ever. I could hook my fingers through the eye holes, flip the hood over my hand and have the cape part free to move about. The cape, having been made for a very young boy, was only a couple of feet long, so the size was great for fecning. A few years later, I took the hood off to make a mask for a masked ball, but I'm still using that cape as my fencing cloak.

I'm not actually sure if I camped out for that Warlord and Premier Blade tournament, or if I day-tripped. There were multiple tournaments for the Premier Blade competition. I want to say three, but I don't remember for sure. One was a 'Cloak and Dagger' tourney, which was really just a tourney with cloak as off-hand. I won that one, the first tourney I ever won in the SCA. I don't think it was my first success in fencing, though; I believe that earlier I had been awarded a plastic rose for 'best death.' So maybe 'success' isn't the right word, exactly. In any case, my single victory in the cloak tournament was not enough to propel me to overall victory. Lord Thomas the Mute achieved that honour. I remember a conversation with him later, when I said I was pretty happy with my result, and he said something like, 'Alexandre, you were the favorite.' I wasn't sure what to make of that at the time. Honestly, I'm still not. I had only been fencing for six or seven months, and certainly I took to it well, but 'the favorite?'

Freana and Richenda were King and Queen at the time, and I think they must have been at the event. I see a cluster of Atenveldt Kingdom awards being given to Caerthans and Caer Galenites on the 1st and 2nd of September including AoAs for Cassandra la Sable who went on to become a dear friend, and Idunn Felinnoir who was later Princess of Drachenwald, the last but one before Drachenwald became a Kingdom in 1993. I don't remember court at all, which suggests that I probably was day-tripping. (After all, I was only 17 years old, and school started that week - my senior year of high school.)

In any case, Warlord and Premier Blade was the last major tournament of the season. On the horizon now, was Caerthan Twelfth Night, the biggest court event in the Northern Outlands ...


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.
If you are reading this, remembering this, and wondering why you aren't mentioned, or are mentioned only in passing, or by reference and not by name, I'm trying to be very careful about other people's privacy.
As an experiment, I'm linking to a Diaspora posting for comments and such.
Comment thread on PlusPora.com

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Luddite'sLog, 22 July 2019
© 2019 Jeff Berry
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