Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Fight Interrupted

For any who has never read this blog before, I must explain something before continuing with this tale.
First of all, I have a hobby which some people might consider strange. About eight or nine weekends of the year you will find me clad in the sort of clothing that Ninth Century Vikings would have worn and running about in a forest somewhere armed with a bloody big spear with the sole intention of killing any Anglo-Saxons, Mercians, or any other dodgy looking people that might cross my path.
I am not mad, and neither am I alone in this pastime as I am a member of a Viking/Saxon re-enactment group and generally every month or so, as any of us as possible will get together somewhere in the country that has a) a village hall where we can cook and bunk down, b) a site nearby where we can have fun beating the crap out of each other by having although not 'staged', but fully trained for safety's sakes skirmishes, and c) a decent pub within staggering distance.
The weekends usually follow the same pattern.
Friday night we all get to the hall (or campsite) and put our bedding down before heading to the pub to say hello to old friends and maybe meet new ones.
Then on the Saturday, we will wake up full of vim and vigour and proceed to the allocated 'fighting site', where we will spend as much time as we can fighting, skirmishing, playing along to the weekend's plot (such as 'Who can win the most treasure from the other units) before either we all get too tired to play anymore or it gets too dark to 'play' safely.
After we've worn ourselves out, it's time to go back to base for a rest before dressing in our finest kit in readiness for the evening's banquet wherein we scoff ourselves full of ninth century style food, washed down with as much ale and mead as we can get our paws onto.
The quaffing side of the banquet generally leads to fun entertainment such as singing, story telling, belt wrestling, puffin shooting, or on one occasion almost full frontal nudity and the theft of a chalice that belonged to a venerable saint.
So I hope new readers get the general idea, and that older readers will understand what I'm talking about when next I say that I'm off for a weekend's pillaging.
And now back to the story.
The last time I went away on one of these weekends, (not even a moon ago as I type this) we shared our fighting site as usual with many people taking their horses out for a hack, and also mad persons on bicycles who generally give no warning before hurtling past at speeds of up to thirty miles per hour for no apparent reason other than to see who can go the fastest along the very dodgy trails without falling off their bike.
Now, being the considerate folks that we our in our society, if we spot any horses with riders heading towards us, we will stop fighting and call 'Spears down' as horsies do not like strange things and tend to get very spooked when the see spears in the air.
We will all stop fighting and wait until the horses (and riders) have gone past before we start beating each other up again which if the riders stop and ask us what we're doing, can take some time.
The same rule also applies if we spot any cyclists speeding towards us, although we don't put our spears down, but instead try to resist the urge to shove them between the spokes of their wheels as they zoom past.
As with horse riders (and indeed any other members of the public) if they stop and ask us what we're doing, we will patiently and politely explain while wishing them to sod off go away again as soon as possible so that we can carry on where we left off.
Another safety rule that we all adhere to, is that if any of us see something that will endanger any of our society or passing members of the public, we will shout out 'Stop!' as loudly as possible and repeat the command until everyone has done so.
There we were a weekend or so ago, at a fighting site that is frequented by many horses with riders and madmen on mountain bikes.
We were fighting at the very top of the hill which has a flat circular top with amazing views over the surrounding countryside.
There was plenty of space for members of the public to walk or cycle past us without getting in our way and as the blood boiled, the battle between Vikings and Saxons grew ever heated until we were lost in a melee of spears, swords and shield clashes and the air rang with curseS, and threats of revenge for previous battles fought and kinsmen lost.
Until I saw a prat in skin tight cycle wear ride right into the middle of the fight.
I shouted out 'STOP!' as loudly as I could, and slowly the fighters on both sides laid down their weapons.
I think that most of them simply couldn't believe that a member of the public had cycled right into the heart of the battle as surely no-one could possibly be that stupid, could they?, and a couple of Saxons even asked me why I had called a halt.
As I pointed to the twat on the bicycle, they at last realized that yes, someone had indeed been that stupid as to ride a bike into the middle of a group of about twenty people, all hell bent on hitting their opponents with although not sharp, heavy bits of weaponry that can do some pretty serious damage if not used without prior training.
We all stared at the man with open mouths and puzzled minds until the man smiled and asked,
"Are you in the middle of filming something?"
There was a long pause before someone replied to him that no, we were not and why would he think so?
He went on to tell us that the previous week some people had been filming, and he wondered if we had anything to do with it as it all looked jolly exciting.
How we all bit our tongues and didn't say something along the lines of "If we had been filming you'd have just wasted a couple of thousand pounds of our budget" at him or berated him for getting in our way which could have resulted in him being seriously hurt, and would he please piss off so that we could get on with our fun, I don't know, but we all had a good laugh about it while regaling the tale to those folks who had missed it.
So please, if anyone out there reading this is ever travelling through a forest and espies a load of Vikings and Saxons beating seven shades of shi sugar out of each other, do not, I repeat do not! wander into the middle of the fracas.
We might not be so quick at spotting someone there next time.
Fight Club.