I can’t help it, every time I see a photo of Margaret Atwood these days I think of a sheep. She would be a true wolf in sheep’s clothing I think. Certainly not someone I should like to cross swords with. She intimidates me even from the dusty ink of today’s Guardian front page. Not that I like to cross swords anyway. I got my bronze in fencing and then gave up. It was so hot behind the mask, in the padded jacket with the melamine cereal bowls to protect my chest.
I liked the elegance of fencing, the footwork, the terms, the feel of the foil in my hand, but I realised early on I did not have the killer instinct.
Nicola Adams has been single handedly responsible for a take up in women’s boxing of more than 70%. It must get hot in that protective headgear too. Her smiling face is such a contrast with the images of Henry Cooper I carry in my head: his eyes slits in a bruised mass, his nose issuing blood. But of course that was the whole masculine trip of it I suppose, and why he got the work advertising Fabergé’s Brut.
I worked as a Saturday girl in Boots when I was at school. For eighteen months I was on the men’s counter selling razors, after shave and so on. The number of boys and men who took Henry’s advice and splashed themselves liberally with the testers of Brut made our eyes water. We got our revenge demonstrating how the new razors worked, ejecting the blades so they flew into the air like missiles in an episode of that programme with the puppets whose name I can’t remember. Lady Penelope was in it, and she had a chauffeur called Parker. Planes flew out of mountains to protect the world from more menacing puppets.
I didn’t watch it much, so I am hazy on the details. If I have a second cup of coffee, the name may just come back to me.