Stephanie Burgis
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Best. Friday. Ever!
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Yesterday was the first Staff Festival at the University of Leeds, and way back on Monday, Patrick invited me to go with him to the festival as his date. I agreed immediately, of course, because first of all, I'm a sucker for any event labeled as a date (You want to go watch cricket on TV in the pub? I don't know...oh, wait, you mean it's a date??? Okay!), and second of all, he told me he had high hopes for the festival being fun rather than lame (which, given the title of the event, it certainly could have been). Then, on Thursday, I finally found the festival's website and realized: OMG, I had to go! Not because of the cheap food, the market stalls, or the live music, but because (wait for it): there were going to be Royal Armouries performers there doing a public demonstration of Georgian swordfighting techniques. Cue swooning on my part.

I loved it. Loved the whole festival, actually. We spent the first hour wandering around sampling food at the different stalls (mmm, gourmet chocolate, homemade pastries, mmm), picked up a £1 cup of delicious fair trade red wine (love this festival!) and then headed to the first of the Royal Armouries demonstrations: Elizabethan swordfighting. Woot! I loved it. I could watch swordfighting all day long. Cut-thrust-bang! They were gritty street-fighters in those days. I loved listening to the bangs of the swords and daggers against each other, and it was fun to hear about the rival London swordmasters of the day.

Sadly, after 20 minutes, the first swordfighting demonstration was over, so we wandered off and bought cheap and amazingly yummy homemade Indian food: a huge plate-full of dahl with sticky, gorgeously-seasoned rice and vegetarian samosas. I got some homemade Christmas cake as dessert, for 70p. I was starting to feel giddy with financial liberation. (I could afford anything!) And then it was time.

Cravats. Ruffles. 18th-century French small-swords! The "Angelo deception"! The performers even bantered as they fenced. I was in bliss. And best of all, afterwards I got to hold one of the French small-swords for myself. (Okay, it was only a replica, and there was a permanently-attached safety button at the end of the sword...but still!) Suddenly I understood why 18th-century swordsmen were always talking about a sword's balance. Holding the sword, I felt a clean line of gravity going straight through my arm.

Patrick drove me home. There was a takeaway package on my lap. (More dahl! More rice! More samosas!) I was almost incoherent with happiness.

I can't wait till next year's staff festival. I'll be there, waiting for the swordfighting to start again.

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