"I'm a writer living in the Perth Hills with my relentlessly fun seeking children.
Published February 10th 2017
We Live to Fight Another Day
Two men are fighting on the school oval. They circle each other warily and the taller man lunges at the other with his sword. There is no blood and no need to call the cops. This is just another normal Sunday morning in Bassendean, for those training to be members of 'The Grey Company' one of the growing number of historical re-enactment groups across the globe.These groups attract all types of people, looking for a hobby that is a little different from the rest.
Sunday Morning Sparring
Making History A passion for living history is fast becoming a consuming hobby for many of its enthusiasts. Hollywood has always had a soft spot for movies about ancient wars and now with the popularity of new historical TV dramas like Outlander and Vikings it seems that more and more people are yearning to exist in a simpler time and dreaming of a perfect weekend that includes mortal combat.
The Vikings are Coming (pic Grey Company Website)
Hand to Hand Combat
The Grey Company takes its combat training very seriously. You only have to look at the handbook to know that this is not some sword waving free for all. They have a long pedigree of staging public displays of combat all over Western Australia since 1984 and pride themselves on producing bold, safe fighters that seem to love what they do. Wherever they appear, from festivals to school education programmes, all those involved have evolved a knowledge and passion for this period of history, whilst having a whale of a time in the process. Whilst the weapons are all blunted the combat action is razor sharp, powerful dramatic and engaging to watch. All the armour and weaponry is as accurate as you can get it and you have to have a good level of fitness to even stand up in it, let alone move or fight.
50 Shades of Grey
Fighting for Many Causes Although the Grey Company's focus is on the medieval period and the dark ages, there is a huge scope within this framework to pledge your allegiance to a variety of different causes, whether that is as a 15th century knight, a roman gladiator, or a marauding viking. Whilst the Grey Company take their combat training very seriously, it has to be said that everybody involved has a rousing good time.
Most of its members are also pretty adept at a range of skills not normally associated with fighting. A Knight Templar may be as handy with a needle as a sword. They try to make costumes as authentic as possible and that means sewing your own tunic and pants. The chances are they also have some very cunning metal work skills under that periodically accurate belt too, because most equipment, helmets, weaponry, shields and armour are all hand crafted. There are specialist shops that sell these goods, but they can be very expensive, especially when you consider that chain mail has been painstakingly made link by link with pliers and a pair of wire cutters.
Knight in Chainmail
Band of Brothers There's a fabulous sense of camaraderie that shines through these events. The combat is always accompanied with a sense of fun and showmanship that the crowds just love. There are also many who get involved as a family affair and they are clearly having much more fun than the rest of us over a long weekend. Aside from weekly combat training, the weekend festivals and the odd banquet, most people seem very down to earth and friendly.
Fighting for Honour
The members of Grey Company are all, of course, really knowledgeable and enjoy sharing their passion and exuberance with others, especially their younger audiences. If you saw Pirates me Hearties at the fringe festival, with their epic sword fighting and banter it wouldn't surprise you to learn that they both started out as Grey Company members.
A Little Swashbuckling for Fun
Pirates in the Ranks Even pirates are most welcome in the ranks, among the knights and highlanders. Historical re-enactment is a perfect lifestyle antidote to modern life, it's physically challenging, interesting and great fun for all involved. Who wouldn't want to give up the boring office job for a long weekend and be a pirate, given half the chance?