Before times - First post
By Master Robert Beddingfield
For reasons that cannot be explained, The Powers That Be asked me if I would be willing to write a column on an irregular basis. I think they meant on no-fixed schedule, but I’m interpreting it as a series of essays with no discernible point, ergo, on an irregular basis.
As there will be a number of these (fair warning), I thought I would start with an introduction.
I am Robert Bedingfield, OP, COWSA, GD, P, SS, Baron. That is of course a lot of baloney (load of hooey? ton ‘o shit?). What it translates to is someone who has been around long enough for Them to figure They need to do something about me. For our purposes, the COWSA is the only one of any import (BTW, that’s Companion of the Order of the White Scarf of Atlantia) .
Let me begin my story with my journey into (and mostly out of) SCA rapier.
MY STORY (Jesus, is he going to do that every time?)
I started in the SCA in February of 1992. In talking with others about what sort of things one can do in the SCA, I discovered that a). there was fencing, and b). there was no fencing in my barony. It wasn’t that it was prohibited; there just wasn’t anyone in the group who did it. Fencing intrigued me because I had done some strip fencing at a couple of local schools in the past, and had enjoyed it without the benefit of being very good at it.
I was told to get in touch with the Kingdom Rapier Marshall, Count Dafydd ap Gwystl (the reason a count was KRM is part of a story definitely worth telling – later). I met Count Dafydd a few weeks later at an event. I asked for the name of someone to contact for the nearest rapier practice; he gave me the phone number for Giacomo.
I know, I know. Some of you are going “uh, oh” and “oh boy” and “it’s a trap!”. Yeah, thanks, where were you 27 years ago? ( to which some of you are saying “in utero” – smart-asses). Nevertheless, the call was made, as was the plan, and I showed up at the Bright Hills rapier practice the next week. Giacomo is…well, let’s just say there will be stories about him later.
Fast forward 3 months, and I authorized at Night on the Town II, May ‘92. Not only was this my first rapier event, but it was also my first town event and I’ve been in love with them ever since. To me, they perfectly embody the ideal of the SCA, to immerse ourselves to completely in our personas in an as-authentic-as-we-can-make-it venue that you can almost forget the modern world. For a new fighter, it was magical.
In retrospect, the event was in need of some work. The town was filled with folks and the fighters were divided between two households, the heads of which admonished us to not start any fights with the other. We wandered around town, shoulder-bumping the folks from the other house and there was no fighting until the end when we squared off on either side of a large puddle and had what can be best described as the first melee in Atlantia. We of course fought in the puddle. Magical.
This was all done with foils, of course. We didn’t allow epees until later that year before Sea Wars, an inter-kingdom war between Atlantia and Trimaris, where they gave the first rapier war point in the SCA (more about that event later).
I’m sure most of you know the history of rapier awards in Atlantia. Because of our performance at Sea Wars, the Crowns in ‘93 created an award, the Order of the Academie d’Espee, whose members wore a gold scarf and were called provosts. I was given the AdE in ‘95, making me number 11.
The award was closed in ‘96 when the Order of the White Scarf was created and all 14 gold scarves were elevated to the new order. We continued to be called provosts. In 2001, the White Scarf was elevated from an AOA-level to a Grant-level order, where it exists today.
While not the most senior WS, I think I’m the oldest, making me Atlantian Rapier’s Cuddle Old Man, maybe? Oh, hell, no, that’s not even close to an accurate description (I am, some would say, blunt). Recently, someone
THE STATE OF THINGS TODAY (nope, nope, nope, not good enough. and he’s doing it again)
I have been part of a lot of things in the development of Atlantian rapier. For health reasons my fighting had to end in 2010; I miss it more than I can say. I have remained an observer and commentator, usually beginning with, “In my day…”. I am pleased with how rapier has progressed in the Kingdom, and proud of my small contributions. I’ll write about some of the things I’ve seen and others have done in future articles. I hope, noble readers, that you find them worthwhile, that I might stand before you, screaming, “Are you not entertained?” and get a thumbs up response.