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Swashbuckling reporter finds the pen is still mightier

PUBLISHED: 15:20 09 October 2008 | UPDATED: 15:28 07 September 2010

As a new fencing club is set up in Highgate, swashbucking Ham&High reporter Miguel Cullen pulled on his mask and experienced a swordfight first hand AT first appearance, the French Fencing Factory, which had its inaugural class in Highgate this Septembe

As a new fencing club is set up in Highgate, swashbucking Ham&High reporter Miguel Cullen pulled on his mask and

experienced a swordfight first hand

AT first appearance, the French Fencing Factory, which had its inaugural class in Highgate this September, was not for the lily-livered.

Lunge-and-parry swordplay seemed more at home with the cut throat brigands of The Prisoner of Zenda and Princess Bride than on the sleepy incline of Highgate Hill.

However, host venue Jacksons Lane Community Centre isn't far from the Gatehouse, where Dick Turpin was a regular.

Maybe Highgate has a longer history of blade-brandishing than first suspected.

The French Fencing Factory was started by Claire Litherland and Priscille Lapoutge last month as a club for fencing first-timers and adept sabre-rattlers alike.

This intrepid Ham&High reporter took the lunge, and was soon ensconced in a white jacket and tunic to be run through a vigorous workout by Ms Lapoutge, the fencing teacher.

Any fears that the class would consist of laborious footwork were soon put to rest when we were quickly thrust into a duel, Zorro style.

No comments on how the Ham&High fared - safe to say that for this reporter, the pen is still mightier than the sword.

Classes were taught by Ms Lapoutge, who graduated from the Ecole Nationale des Maitres d'Armes in France.

one of the world's most exacting academies, the school requires students to train for eight hours a week for two years.

She said: "There are a lot of Eastern European fencers in London, from Hungary, Poland and Russia but there isn't the same standard and there isn't much creativity among them, which is one of the reasons I started the French Fencing Factory with Claire.

"I started fencing when I was 15 and have been teaching for 20 years.

"My favourite fencing film is Valmont with Colin Firth," added Ms Lapoutge, who lives in Wedmore Street in Archway.

Ms Litherland, 37, who also works as a massage therapist and lives in Holloway, said: "I started fencing two years ago and fell in love with it.

"I loved the physical and mental challenge. It's something I can practise by myself but also have to do with other people.

"I can push myself to whatever level I feel like. I really enjoy myself. It's something you don't have to be an expert to have fun with.

"I love Zorro because he seems to have fun. It's all tongue-in-cheek and I love the etiquette - the way when his sword falls out of his hand he doesn't kill him, he waits until he gets it back."

Five-week beginner courses cost £80, while club membership is £35 per month. Find out more at www.thefrenchfencingfactory.co.uk

editorial@hamhigh.co.uk

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