The day after tomorrow a bunch of the guys from Albrechts Bössor are leaving a warm, sunny and beautiful spring for rain, clouds and a temperature about the same as in Sweden – even though we are leaving for Italy. In many ways the event in Morimondo (close to Milan in northern Italy) is one of the finest I have been to. The food and the hospitality is top notch, as is the wine and the comradeship. It is also really nice to get out of Sweden, where we have burrowed for long, dark winter months. It is exceptionally well organized in a beautiful small village with an old monastery.
But there are some things I would change if I could. Different groups have very different opinions on how to interpret safety rules at the field. Most groups from eastern Europe seems to have a completely different view on safe fighting than do most groups from western Europe. We get along well with Germans, Brits and Danes, but we sometimes experience a bit of unpleasantries from Poles, Czechs and Russians. They gear up in full plate with closed visors (then they consider themselves secure), and then they wade into the melee, aiming for the head. We on the other hand, often portray more ”simple” soldiers, which means we don’t gear up as much, for the sake of authenticity.
We come from a fighting culture where most people respect this, and go easy on fighters in light armour. We also acknowledge hits, even if we are well armoured; it is not always easy to recognize a light hit when you are clad in plate, but if you pay attention to what is happening, and don’t go into some kind of frenzy, you can usually register the hits you take. And we don’t go for head shots, if it is not explicitly agreed between two separate fighters. The guys from eastern Europe don’t seem to share that culture.
Time and time again I have been taking loads of hard hits, even when I was not in fact a combattant (gunners don’t count as combattants, as we carry gunpowder, and as we don’t have much armour. If we want to fight hand-to-hand, it becomes clear, as we leave our gunnery equipment behind and arm ourselves with weapons for close combat). Our gunnery position has been stormed, and gunners knocked to the ground, with gunpowder twirling all over the place. Friends of mine have been struck in the face – hits which could easily have made him both blind and without teeth.
And it doesn’t seem to matter how many times you hit them – they don’t fall. And this leads to that you have to hit them harder – as they don’t seem to register being hit. And this leads to injuries and maddened tempers – when they do feel the hits, the hits are so hard it REALLY hurts, and they wonder why we hit them so hard… Last year, many fighters in our ranks – Italians, Germans, Swedes and more – put down their weapons and raised their hands to the sky, declaring that we didn’t want to fight the Poles.
Don’t get me wrong – I like a good fight, but you must adapt your force and fighting style to your opponent. It is not (believe it or not) a fight to the death. It is not a competition – in fact, the outcome of the battle is often decided before hand. It is just supposed to be a good show for the audience and good fun for the fighters. It is a pity we are having a kind of cultural clash (in more than one sense ;-)). We should just sit down with a couple of drinks and have a talk about it. I am sure we can get along just fine if we just discussed the issue.
Otherwise I will eat a lot of Italian food. I will drink loads of wine and Grappa, have ice cream, heavenly Italian desserts and share romantic moments with my bonnie lass – my parents-in-law are good enough to eat, as they have agreed to baby sit Isolde for us! My wife and I, alone in the land of milk and honey! I shall eat myself into a stupor, have more than one drink with my friends and have lots of quality time with Elisabeth. And I have saved hundreds of Euros that I have dedicated to food and drink in Italy. I am going to love this sooo much!
Anyway. Me and Elisabeth have been working like mad finishing stuff. I haven’t been in the position for a while (the position where you work your fingers until they bleed, finishing 6 in the morning the day you are going to leave for the event), but this time I had to finish my panzar. I just had to. I have been working on that piece of junk for 4 years, and every moment has been solid pain. I hate that panzar. But now it’s finished, even though I am not exactly happy with it. It is about 60% of what I would like it to be. Never the less – it’s finished, and I will declare a ”panzarium pandemonium” – a tradition amongst members of the group, that says that as soon as you have finished your hand stitched panzar, you shall have a sort of party, where you buy drinks for everyone that show up with a hand stitched panzar, that they have made themselves. I will post pictures as soon as my crappy panzar has seen its first action.
We finished packing up our stuff yesterday, and took a 1,5 hour drive to Kalmar, where we left our pack for the lorry drivers. They will be arriving to pack it all up some hours from now, and then they will begin their long trip through Europe, over the Alps and into Italy. The rest of us will fly, and meet them there. They really are heroes, and I salute them for taking a harsh responsibility.
I will give a full report as soon as I come back, but until then you will most probably have to wait, as I need to get back on track with stuff like laundry, cleaning and other everyday stuff that I have neglected during my stitching frenzy the last week.