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Tag: birthday

Halloo!

 

I am 42 years old today. As everybody knows, the Meaning of Life is forty two, so a post on the Meaning of Life seems apt.

What then have I learned in 42 solar sojourns? (Other than to insert Monty Python, Douglas Adams and Blackadder references wherever possible?)

Pay close attention, because this is important. If there is ONE BIG THING I have learned, it’s this:

Love is not the main thing. Love is not the best thing. Love is not the most important thing.

Love is the ONLY thing that matters.

That’s it.

Love your spouse, children, family.

Love your friends. They’re the family you choose.

Work for love. Not necessarily do work that you love. That’s great if you can get it. But work for love. Work to get money to feed your kids. Work to get money to feed other people’s kids. Work because the work itself is worthwhile whether you enjoy it or not.

But do it for love.

Love yourself. The best way to do that is to show love to the people you care about. That will feed your soul like nothing else. But also look after your body and your mind. You deserve it.

It's probably better to do the wrong thing, from love, than the right thing from any other motive.

And tell me these pics made by my kids don't make you go ahhhhhh:

By Katriina By Grace

I am writing a short book at the moment with the working title “How to Live Long and Prosper”. (Star Trek references are good too.)

It will cover my best advice on how to live. It has five basic practices:

  1. Spend time with people you care about. (Love.)
  2. Do things you find meaningful. (Do them for love.)
  3. Think right. (Love your mind.)
  4. Eat right (love your body, part 1)
  5. Exercise (love your body, part 2)

And then a whole lot of ideas, principles, and practices to make those five easier. My go-to strength training exercises; my favourite meditations; that sort of thing. This will be backed up by the research I’ve done over the last couple of decades, much of it distilled from the works of better scholars than I. Studies of centagenarians, for instance.

I’ll also look at money, how to manage it, and what it is actually for. This has been a critical skill for creating a decent quality of life from a swordsman’s income. Because once you clear away the inessentials (anything that is not about love), then it becomes much easier to make good long-term financial decisions, which will indeed help you to prosper.

I will spend today with my wife and kids, also meditating and exercising, and eating good food, and in the evening I'll go to the salle and teach and advanced class. Following my own advice, in other words. Talk about a happy birthday!

And in case your day needed cheering up:

A mysterious parcel was waiting for me when I arrived at my School's Christmas Party (and my 40th birthday party) on Saturday, November 23. It had been shipped from Edinburgh and was addressed to me, but I was not expecting a delivery that day. Besides, shipping companies do not normally deliver on a Saturday in Finland. The sender was a group called “The Honourable Heirs of Windsor”. I had never heard of them, and so expected somebody at the party to know something about it. But nobody did.

Sword of Windsor package My wife encouraged me to open it anyway. So out with a screwdriver, and under layers of cardboard we found the documentation that came with the shipment. It included a letter addressed to me from The Honourable Heirs of Windsor,

Sword of Windsor Letter

(which bizarrely has post-nominals but no names), a description of the provenance of something called “the Sword of Windsor”, apparently lost at the battle of Towton in 1461,

 

Sword of Windsor provenance 1Sword of Windsor provenance 2

and a metallurgical analysis of this sword by David Edge of the Wallace Collection.Sword of Windsor MetallurgySword of Windsor Metallurgy2

By this time, a small crowd had formed and we were all itching to see what was under the wrappings. So I unpeeled them, and there before my very eyes, was the Sword of Windsor. As the provenance suggested, it was in excavation condition (read: rusted to bits).

the Sword of Windsor The frame that it was attached to was clearly about 60 years old, and has various catalogue numbers and stickers attached to it.

Sword of Windsor back

So, some mysterious secret society had decided to send me an ancient sword. But didn’t require a signature on receipt? Very odd.

Sword of Windsor hiltThere were one or two clear problems with the sword as it stood. Firstly, the bone handle could not have survived 500 years in the ground. Secondly, the silver wire turk's head knot does not belong on a mediaeval sword. Thirdly, what is the likelihood of there being a surviving silver Windsor family crest on the pommel of a 15th century sword?

PommelShield Pommel side Pommel side 2

Given that it was shipped from Edinburgh, and that the “Honourable Heirs of Windsor Society” was “until 1994 the Honourable Sons of Windsor society” (I founded the Dawn Duellists Society in 1994), the most likely candidate were my friends in Edinburgh. But none of them have the skills to fake this. Also, the phone number on the shipment sheet was out by one digit. Exactly the same typo that appeared on a batch of business cards I had printed up about six years ago. So whoever sent this apparently had my old business card. All my friends have my number. Also, there are no names on the documents. But the seal has the Windsor crest on it, just like the sword.

I came to the conclusion that it was either real and to be taken at face value, or the most elaborate hoax in the history of antiques forgery. Fake the sword, yes, but the frame? The only people I know who could have faked it, are Lasse Mattila, and JT Pälikkö, old and dear friends. Lasse restores and conserves arms and armour for museums. JT is the best sword smith in the world (though he’d deny it). Both of these guys were at the party, and knew nothing about the sword.

So, something out of a Dan Brown book was happening live at my party. I was utterly baffled. It could not be true, yet this thing of beauty was right there. So I decided to email David Edge, to see what he had to say about the provenance. Before he could reply, I got this in my email:

Surprise! Lasse and JT had faked the whole thing, with help from David, and my wife, and my parents. That included making the seal stamp with the crest, for the wax seal on the letter, faking the pommel and crossguard, putting together the blade out of a bit of support structure from a statue that Lasse conserved about 12 years ago, making the frame and ageing it, faking the documents (that zeppelin strike in 1915 was very suspicious!), and even faking the box it all came in. The 1994 and the phone number errors were coincidences (they put the wrong number there to explain why the delivery was unannounced, but didn't know about the business cards). The whole thing never left Finland, all the shipping stuff was fake. They had thought I'd see through the whole thing in 10 seconds, and so had no plan for keeping the jape going. But what a jape!

And behind that pommel?

Back of pommel

Bastards. Sneaky, conniving, magnificent, bastards! With friends like these…

I am in awe.

 

This blog has now been up for one whole year. Huzzah! In that time I have published 58 posts, in 11 categories. By far the most-viewed post, with nearly double the hits of the next most viewed, has been “Plastic swords are for children”, which is interesting as the majority of hits have been sent this way by people who clearly disagree with my view. Also popular has been the rant regarding the sport fencing coaches in the USA thinking that they can certify historical swordsmanship instructors.  Of the more pedagogical posts, I Am Slow, Class Instruction, and Size Matters are well ahead of the rest.  I am surprised to find the beginners’ course series way down at the bottom of the list.

Anyway, to celebrate one year in, here is my translation of Vadi’s De Arte Gladiatoria Dimicandi laid out on the original images (by Kliment Yanev, thanks!), yours for free under a Collective Commons Attribution licence. Post it, play with it, put it to work. And if you like, feel free to buy the book, Veni Vadi Vici, which includes the transcription and my commentary.

Thanks for reading!

 

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