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Time Out Feature: Sword-fighting in London

Posted on by Kate Hutchinson

Inspired by Game of Thrones, I tried out sword-fighting for Time Out's weekly 'Whatever Next?' column. Read about my exploits over on the Time Out blog or below.

This article originally appeared in Time Out London, Issue May 14-20 2013.

©David Tett

©David Tett

Heavy metal: Kate Hutchinson tries her hand at longsword fighting

As decreed by Time Out readers, Kate Hutchinson must face an ordeal by cold steel.

As a proud modern-day feminist, I like to think I’ve got most man-skills nailed. Unblocking a toilet? No sweat. Sinking six pints? Piece of cake! Sword fighting? Ah, that’s something that very few of us, no matter what bits we’ve got, can do. Fencing aside, it pretty much died out a century ago but there are places in London dedicated to keeping the spirit of the flashing blade alive.

I encounter the London Longsword Academy on a Monday night at City YMCA. Their motto promises that ‘one day the bullets will run out’, and when they do, the beefy men attending this class of four will be the equivalent of cruise missiles. Two of them could crush me with a glance and while the other one looks gentle, I’m guessing he has the nimbleness of Legolas from ‘The Lord of the Rings’. Thankfully, the medieval longswords that we are using are blunt, but they’re still Thor-hammer-heavy. ‘I am Brienne of Tarth!’ I think, as I almost drop the thing on my foot.

We launch straight into sparring, without a warm-up, so I soon get used to the feel of holding a sword two-handed. But what I can’t adjust to is the class’s pace. I’ve barely figured out how to advance before I’m swinging the three-foot blade above my head like a granny wielding a walking stick.

‘This is the plow, the food, the ox and day,’ says instructor Dave Rawlins, pointing his sword in different positions as I try to keep up. ‘Now we’re going to do a wrath strike from the right, turning into a feint, with an attack to the ear.’ I’ve no clue what’s going on. Now I must face the bitter realisation that my knowledge of pointy things you can stick into people extends only as far as the workings of the fork.

The next feat we try is even less straightforward, though Rawlins makes it look like ballet with blades. ‘Sorry if this hurts,’ I apologise, as I’m told to strike Legolas, then put my hand on the flat of the sword and push it into his neck, forcing himto the ground. Fortunately for him, I stagger around clumsily like a knight who’s quaffed too much mead. It’s a shame, really. Done properly, that move would kick some serious butt.

Soon our 90 minutes are up. I’m reassured that I did well, but I feel more like the Black Knight from ‘Monty Python and the Holy Grail’ than Uma Thurman in ‘Kill Bill’. For those with more combat savvy, you’d be hard pressed to find a better place for sword practice. The next time I want to get my medieval kicks, though, maybe I’ll try live-action role-play.

Where: Location varies.

When: Six nights a week (not Sat).

How much: £14 per session.

For info, see londonlongsword.com

Video interview: James Murphy

Posted on by Kate Hutchinson

I interviewed the ultimate dude, James Murphy, about life after LCD Soundsystem for Time Out London. Full spiel I wrote on the Time Out blog below.

You may have, like everyone else, thought that LCD Soundsystem had called time on their legendary NYC punk-funk outfit. But as the details of ‘Shut Up and Play the Hits’ emerged on the internet earlier this year, it seems that here is a chance to see their last waltz on repeat. The new film, from the directors of the stunning Blur documentary ‘No Distance Left to Run’, follows the band’s last – and by all accounts, epic – performance at Madison Square Gardens in 2011. Unlike other live DVDs of their sort, however, the camera continues to follow LCD’s linchpin, James Murphy, around on the day after the show as he comes to terms with life after LCD.

It’s a both sad and uplifting, not to mention beautifully shot, visual time capsule. But, luckily, we Londoners don’t have long to wait until we can see the film in full. ‘Shut Up and Play the Hits’ premiered at Sundance in Texas in March, and it’s heading here as part of the London arm of the film festival from April 26-29. Cue excitable jigs and air-punching from Time Out’s Music team.

But really the question on every fans’ lips is, after 10 years guiding one of the most provocative electronic acts in history, what will James Murphy do next? Well, let us tell you, he’s been up to a lot, especially DJing, which he’ll be getting stuck into once more at London’s Lovebox festival, where he teams up with LCD member Pat Mahoney for a special disco set.

We caught up with him as part of the Red Bull Music Academy lectures at the start of April – a year since the band ended, almost to the day –  to find out about the new projects up his sleeve and just what he thinks of the film. Watch the interview above.

Interview: Kate Hutchinson. Film: Roman Tagoe. Recorded at the Red Bull Studios, London.