Thursday, 9 December 2010

On buying a sword

So my random, impulse 'WFT?!?!?!?!?' purchase of the week the year MY LIFE has been this:

Look! It's got numbers on it and that!
So yeah, I bought a bayonet.

*DISCLAIMER* I am not a homicidal maniac, honest.

There's a really crazy shop in Cambridge which is full of stuff like this. It's a pawnbrokers, which are always a little weird (and a bit sad too), but this one is EXCELLENT. There's all the usual stuff in there like Xboxes and DVDs and about 100 electric guitars but also things like antique fountain pens and a suit of Kendo armour (seriously!) and a lute. And this bayonet. I had a little episode shall we say when I saw it.

This makes a little more sense when you learn that I spent my entire childhood completely obsessed with  knights and Romans and Vikings etc. Anything that involved swords and suits of armour was, in my opinion, MADE OF WIN.

I completely loved my lego knights. Especially this one, with his FUCK-OFF MASSIVE SWORD:
There is literally no chance that I'm not going to try and find this guy when I go home for Christmas.
 I also made one of my action men a suit of armour and a sword because I though guns were lame and you can only get action men with guns. He even had a red velvet cloak. AND MY MUM THREW IT AWAY! Bad times. But anyway, yes. I was not a girl who played with Barbies. Unless it was using them as catapult fodder/target practice or for learning the fine art of burning stuff with magnifying glasses with.

I naturally had a couple of variants:
When I was 16 it was no longer really socially acceptable to do this anymore. Now I'm 21 and don't give a shit what people think I can re-live this a bit.
It got to the stage that the first thing I did when we got to a campsite/whatever on holiday was to sit down and craft some sort of weapon. (I can still whittle a mean piece of wood). And then to build a den to defend, naturally. The brilliant thing about having 3 siblings is that whenever you go anywhere you automatically have your own private army a group of friends with you. And four people can make a damn site better den than one person.

I look at all the 13 year-olds who wear make up and dress (and look) older than me and wonder what the rush is to grow up. Why would you want to be an adult? Being an adult is shit. You have to deal with things like banks and paying bills and dealing with rude shop assistants and making sure the house doesn't run out of loo roll. When you're a child, you can spend all day hauling branches around to create a fortress, climbing trees and run around pretending you're a goddam knight and no one judges you for it.

Now, I am almost certainly going to die for doing this, but the facebook "photo memories" section threw up this today and it made me laugh. A lot.
It was taken at Kenilworth castle back in the day (that's a good castle - they used to do some really great reenactment stuff. Whenever I smell woodsmoke I'm immediately dragged back to this castle full of medieval-ly tents and people carrying halberds around). And I look like such a massive twat in it (I've never been the photogenic type!) :-D

But yes, when I go home for Christmas, one of my siblings is going to kill me for this (sorry guys, I thought it was funny). 


My god.

I cried with laughter earlier. ACTUAL TEARS FELL FROM MY FACE.

(Random aside: the wrath of my brothers and sisters is going to be nothing compared to the massive slap round the head I'm going to get off my mum for giving the new family car an inappropriate name. We've recently had this change of car:
Well, I am please to announce that FARC has stuck. And now it's on the internet so it's official. That's the last time my mum asks me for advice :-D).

But I appear to have digressed MASSIVELY and reminisced about my childhood for quite a bit. You want to know why THE FUCK I bought a bayonet. (I also haven't written a word about rowing.... hmm, sorry).

Well, it's the closest I'm realistically going to get to a genuine sword without robbing a museum. And I really really like things with history attached to them. Like second hand books with the names of their previous owners in them:
And who knows where that bayonet went or if it was ever used in anger. All I know about it is that it's probably about 100 years old and is probably French, and that's all I'll ever know. That's awesome.

So that's my attempt at convincing you I'm not about to go postal in Cambridge with a blunt bayonet.
I did have a small issue in trying to buy it though:
I shit you not. These where her exact words. She reminded me that I needed to be 18 to buy it, upon which I triumphantly produced my driving license (which also helpfully has my fucking GENDER on it in case people are confused). Not my finest hour, I'll admit.

I got mistaken for a 17 year old boy. Bad times :-(

But I do now own a sword and can do this:

Oh yeahhhhhhhhh. 



  1. HAHAHAHAHA. I hope she was suitably embarrassed.

  2. possibly the best autobiography i've read all year!

  3. I would not want to call you a 17 year old boy when you are standing there with a sword.

  4. I LOVE this blog! :-D

  5. @Jane: Yes, she was suitably mortified! I believe I muttered something about just getting my hair cut or something...
    @Chiara: Indeed.

    Q: What do you call Anna Railton holding a sword?
    A: Whatever the fuck she tells you to call her.


    @ Graeme and Jenna: Why thank you very much :-) This blog post was mainly to reassure the people who knew I had purchased a sword that I wasn't crazy, but I don't think it has helped very much... :-)

  6. I think we shared the same childhood!

    How much was the Bayonet? You should go on the Antiques Roadshow in about 50 years time, it might be worth thousands by then! It looks like a Chassepot Bayonet so it could already by nearly 150 years old. But I'm sure you've already researched it! :P

    I've got a machete from when I went on a World Challenge trip to the Caribbean. I sharpened it and everything so I could test it out on some local jungle. Not quite as cool as an actual Bayonet though!

  7. If you are still interested in Vikings, may I recommend the brilliant novel The Long Ships by Swedish author Frans G. Bengtsson. There is a marvellous sword fight in the chapter about King Harald's Yule feast. I promise you will not be disappointed!

  8. A worryingly large percentage of my friends own swords! Actually, come to think of it, so do I! Better keep it away from Frankie...

  9. the thing is.... i havent changed from that photo! and Anna, if you bring back the bayonet, then none of us will even think of killing you!!!
    On a second note, i love the name "fucking awesome red car" but when i called it that to mum she goes "Toby. you call it that again, you will not be allowed in the car" Sad time :'(

  10. Bayonets et al. FTW. I once had an interesting experience carrying a four foot long cavalry sabre down St. Giles' in Oxford. Good times...

  11. @Tom: Paid £40 for it (tried to haggle but got nowhere). No idea if that's good or not, but don't really care because I like it and it's MINE :-)

    Turns out it's one of these:


    @Göran: Cheers, I will check it out!

    @Ed: A surprising amount of people have since said to me "Yeah, I've got a sword!" I am clearly not alone in my little Arthurian fantasy.

    @Phil: Four foot long??? Seriously? :-o

  12. Brilliant as always.

    You might be just a little bit crazy - but in a good way !

  13. @Pete: That is going to be the tag line for my next advert in Rowing and Regatta :-D Cheers!

  14. Can't believe I haven't got round to reading this blog post until now - it's brilliant! Also slightly swallows-and-amazons, but with more sharp pointy bits :)

  15. Swords. Are. Cool.

    (Bayonets are pretty cool too)