Pete Davison: Newbie

Posted on April 15, 2011 by

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It’s an incontrovertible and irritating fact that the more means you have to enjoy new and exciting things, the less time you’ll have to do them in. As you get older, the days seem to get shorter—or at least fuller—and the weeks seem to fly by. Before you know it, you’re dead.

Well, okay, that’s an exaggeration. But it’s certainly true once you, say, get out of university and start work. I remember the first couple of weeks at university. It was a whirlwind of new shit. Not literally, that would be disgusting. But a bunch of us decided that if there was ever a time to try out some new things, the first few weeks of university was it.

So we did. Shortly after arriving and introducing ourselves to each other (memorably, most of my flatmates’ first experience of me was witnessing me cooking a bacon sandwich whilst wearing a lop-sided dressing gown, as I’d been there a few days prior to them) we decided that we’d go along to the various taster sessions that the university clubs offered. Most of them would likely be things we wouldn’t want to continue with, we decided, but we might as well give them a go.

So it was that several of us found ourselves lying on the dirty floor of what was basically a big shed clutching large rifles and feeling extremely nervous about what the nice man had said about making sure you don’t accidentally shoot it at the floor because it will probably kill you. But then we got into the whole “shooting holes in bits of paper” thing and it all became a lot more interesting. Sure, none of us went back after that, but the fact I can say I’ve fired an actual real rifle is pretty cool.

And so it was that we found ourselves attending a ninjutsu class, learning the best way to deal with a knife-clutching attacker who is attempting to bum you or just kill you from behind. (Stick your bum out to knock him back, grab his arm, twist it in a smooth but convoluted manner, whip the knife up his arm, shaving all his skin off and causing considerable pain, pull him down to the ground, bash his elbow on the floor to break it in a manner which is difficult to heal and finally kick him in the face. Possibly. I forget.) One of us went back and learned quite a lot about various ways to ninj other people to death. (What? “Ninj” is absolutely the verb to describe what ninjas do. They ninj people. You ninj. I ninj. They ninj. He/she/it ninjes. No? Shut up.) The rest of us didn’t.

That didn’t stop us trying out the other Ninjutsu club, where most of the session felt like Ninjas’ Playtime, as the entire class did forward roll after forward roll back and forth up and down a padded room. It was fun, but unlikely to kill anyone.

And so it was we found ourselves trying out the fencing club and discovering that people who have been fencing for a long time not only are much better than complete beginners, but they’re awfully smug about it. And epees somehow aren’t quite as satisfying as big, proper, actual swords. But then they’d probably be a bit more fatal. Unless everyone got to wear armour, and then you’d kind of be going into Knight Club territory, rather than fencing.

We continued this pattern for a while. Some of us stuck with the Karate-do-Shotokai club for a while, others (including myself) drifted off. Now, as most of us are pushing 30, you have to wonder if we’ll ever have the opportunity to get involved in such a diverse array of new things ever again.

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