On Paragons of Virtue

Anyone who has spent some time around me at events knows that I can be full of laughter, joy, bad jokes and the odd shenanigans. More recently I have been using the term Paragon of Virtue as part of my schtick and like most things I do, it serves a few different purposes. I thought it time I shared my thoughts and intents here.

If you’ve spent some time at events with or around me, you may have heard me bantering to friends about being a Paragon of Virtue, and how respected Peers, Baronages and populace from all over the Kingdom have said the words “Amos is a Paragon of Virtue”. It normally ends up with a few laughs, and very occasionally a spit-take. But it has an origin and a purpose.

It originally started as a mental health aide. I spend a lot of time ribbing with good friends who can give as well as they can take and there is a time and a place for that in good fun, but I also noticed an increasing trend on myself to focus on self-depreciating humour, getting to levels where people would either take me seriously when I would attempt to make a negative joke about myself or I would start genuinely feeling that about myself.

So in light of this, I decided to look at myself, the SCA and see if I couldn’t come up with something new to joke about myself that wasn’t self-deprecating, or at least as self-deprecating and thus Amos as a Paragon of Virtue was born.

Like a lot of things I try to do, it hits many birds with one stone. Being called or self labeling as a Paragon of Virtue is obviously about as far from self depreciation as possible. It also forms a little bit of Satire on the SCA itself. One of the things I love about the SCA is the balance of serious and solemn moments and teaching vs the outright joy and fun of mischief and people getting up to all kinds of shenanigans. When we talk about Virtues in the SCA in my opinion we tend to drift too far into serious and solemn discussion and forget that we are supposed to be coming together for fun and shared love of what we do.

When people ask me about what Virtues I’m a Paragon of, I have a set of flippant answers, and more rarely some serious ones. In jest, I will talk about how Patience and Mercy are Virtues, and I inspire them frequently – in everyone who has an interaction with me. In seriousness, I will freely admit Paragon is too strong a term. I struggle with a positive self image of myself on the best of days. I don’t even believe I am a good person. I do believe I am a better person than I have been in the past and one of my core goals and values is to always attempt to be a better person.

In my eyes, that’s about the best I can expect to do.

There are many moral and social Virtues I believe I follow and can hopefully inspire in others, if not now then one day in the future.

I still have a bit of a tendency towards self-deprecating humour, and I struggle to accept compliments as anything more than flattery. These are my flaws that I am attempting to work on.

In the near short term, I will continue my Paragon of Virtue routine as long as it brings smiles and laughter to peoples faces and in turn puts one on mine. If you hear me saying it, please don’t think me any more arrogant or serious than I maybe – it is entirely in jest and with my tongue firmly in cheek.

In closing, I’ll leave a small piece of wisdom I was given:

Teach people how to treat you. If you can’t be bothered to say nice things about yourself, why should anyone else?

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A year in partial review (Part 2)

So this followup to my year in partial review for 2018 is much overdue, but I’ve felt the urge to write some more so I thought updating my website was a good place to start.

Following my previous set of adventures I travelled to Inter-College War (ICW). ICW isn’t normally my normal go-to event, for while I love hanging out with Collegians and have a carefully tailored reputation for mischief and chaos that would suggest ICW would be a perfect fit… it’s normally not for me. That said, in 2018, the Steward, Adeliz, is a friend and she managed to wrangle significant funding to bring over some superstars from the Kingdom of Artemesia. I drove over in two days, taking a local Collegian with me, staying along the pilgrims trail with Master James in what’s now the incipient Shire of Strathcorbie.

ICW was probably the first time in years I managed to sit down and hammer out attending class after class. Normally at teaching events I’m doing things, or hiding somewhere to relax and socialize with friends. Somehow I managed to relax, be social, do things and attend classes without feeling overburdened.

There was a touching moment at the event where Duke Timmur of Artemesia talked about energy, motivation and how people and events can refill your love and joy for the SCA and what we do. That event, the people I met, the things I learnt and the time I spent definitely refilled my cup, which at the time was starting to feel low. It’s an idea and concept I’ve kept with me and try to be mindful of in my dealings with others.

Shortly after returning from ICW, I was back travelling up to St Florians for Midwinter. Midwinter was my first Drakey feast, my first St Florian event and I had an absolute blast. I flew up this time, as I wasn’t able to justify the 4 days driving for a 2 day event. I spent the Saturday doing some A&S research, catching up with friends and enjoying the atmosphere of the event and of course, the feast. Seriously, some amazing food was served that night, but the highlight that sticks in my mind is still the honey truffle butter.

The Sunday of Midwinter was a tournament day, I spent some time fighting in the Roses tournament on the Rapier field. I didn’t manage to perform all that well, but I had a lot of fun fighting some new-to-me fighters, which made it worthwhile. Compared to my other trips, it was really zoom in, zoom out, but it was a worthwhile experience for me and a really enjoyable weekend away.

My next big outing was a local one, where I was one of the Stewards for Fields of Steel. Awesome fun. Read the blog.

Following a month or so after Fields of Steel, I packed my bus with Collegians and drove over to Krae Glas for Great Southern Gathering. GSG is one of my favourite events. It normally provides me a great chance to relax and unwind, learn a few things, and catch up with friends in a casual and laid back fashion. This GSG did not disappoint. It felt like hedonism to have a half filled dorm room with an ensuite at an SCA event and not be anyone important – but everyone was in the same boat. The site was host to amazing views that had me stopping and just looking over the hills, which is rare.

I managed to successfully play at one of my SCA hobbies of bringing weird alcohol to events and sharing with as many people as possible. I took a bottle of Crown Royal Maple to GSG and spent my evenings walking around telling people “it’s like pancakes and whiskey had a baby”. I got a few laughs which made it worthwhile. GSG continues to be one of my regular “will probably go to guaranteed” events.

Finally to cap off the year, I made my first trip down to Ynys Fawr for the Theatre of Food feast. In short, I was blown away. Not only by the friendliness and hospitality of Ynys Fawr, Her Exuberance for putting me up, and the love and passion the locals showed when going about the SCA, but the quality of the event itself. The food was amazing, multiple dishes, multiple profiles, moments that kept me guessing, moments that made me laugh. If it was just the food, it would have been enough.

But the pagentry, hall design and setup, the garden room, general atmosphere and the entertainment really sold the event. Being able to sit at a table with good friends, eating good food, being entertained by live historical music or other theatre… having paired wines and drinks to the dishes… seriously, I was amazed. I would go back in a heartbeat for an event like that, or anywhere in Lochac for that matter.

That largely wraps up my 2018 adventures. 2018 was a year I had set aside for a lot of SCA time and I wanted to revitalize my experience – so I travelled. I still have a few Baronies I’ve never been to that I intend to get to in coming years, I still have a number of larger annual events I haven’t tried yet that likewise, I want to try at least once. But I’m enjoying the journey to see and try all these experiences.

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A year in partial review (Part 1)

So it’s been a while since I posted a blog about my larger travels and I promised a year in review.

Earlier this year, following my trip to Congregatus Australis, I made my way to Rowany Festival. I used Congregatus as an experiment on my own personal limits, and after self medicating with probably slightly too much scotch, I realized I couldn’t work at Rowany festival without better painkillers. I’d been avoiding it for as long as I could, but I’m at the stage of my life and chronic pain now where if I want to be functional more than 48 hours in any significant way, I need better painkillers.

I served on the Stewarding team once again and drove over to festival with Duchess Mari, stopping for the night an hour out of site with some lovely hosts in the craziest house. It probably deserves an episode on one of those house TV shows. In the first night of setup, I lost my tent due to 90 km winds and ended up in dorms the rest of the event. This wasn’t a large hardship as the dorms were better quality than I expected.

During my time at festival I got to catch up with a number of old friends and make some new ones. I also got to see a friend during his vigil, have a part serious, part joking discussion and then got to see him elevated as a MoD. That was one of the main highlights of my festival.

Rowany inducted me into the Order of the Silver Cinquefoil for the second year in a row, I returned the token after court as I still have the hat pin I got the year before. There was discussion if I turn in enough of them I can get made a Rowany citizen, but every time I ask the answer seems to be “at least one more”.

Festival was hard for me in some ways, I came face to face with a bunch of personal criticism I hadn’t heard before and I’ll admit, having a pile of it at once hit me like a truck. It’s taken me time to process this all, and I may make another blog post about it, but in the short form I was surprised and upset – some of the comments I can see are valid, some I think are radically delusional – but I began the process of thinking more about perceptions and how my words and actions come across to other people, especially people who don’t know me well, and it’s been a worthwhile exercise.

At the end of the event, I was given a gold token by the Stewards for the second year in a row, as you can see pictured above with a silver meerkat household token and my silver cinquefoil hat pin. This blew me away as I didn’t expect it, but it now sits proudly on my fancy hat (not my working straw one) and I love wearing it around.

Following the adventures of festival and after a slight recovery, I traveled to Krae Glas for their Day of Honour. I got the opportunity to stay with some good friends and to participate in their Rapier Championship without contesting the title. I would be glad to be Rapier Champion, but I can’t justify doing the job to my level with the distance involved.

I got to catch up with a number of great people, provided and received some private rapier tutoring and all in all had a relaxing holiday weekend.

Following my weekend in Krae Glas, I got home, turned around and went to Politarchopolis for their Tournament of the Black Boar / Feast of the Griffin event. I again, got to stay with some great friends, didn’t get up to too much mischief, and had a great time at the event. My fighting at this event wasn’t where I wanted it to be, I should have warmed up before the tournament proper, but I still had an enjoyable time assisting with marshalling and then enjoying the feast. I got to see an excellent peerage ceremony for a very awesome dude and spent my evening catching up with friends and encouraging people to drink. It seems to be one of my A&S pursuits at the moment – how many ways are there to encourage drinking at an event?

Next up is Inter College War and Midwinter, but they deserve a part 2 post. Stay tuned.


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Fields of Steel

So, it’s been a while since I’ve written a blog post about my SCA adventures – I’ll be writing a partial year in review post soon. But for today, I want to write about Fields of Steel.

Fields of Steel came about in an odd way. We ended up with a team of 5 Stewards from the event – largely because two groups of us had a similar idea for a high-quality rapier event at the same time and we decided to combine forces rather than compete. I had the theory that since rapier war seems to be popular and enjoyable in other Kingdoms around the Known World it should be popular here – “build it and they will come”. In Lochac we’re limited to rapier war being included in only 2 events I know of (Rowany Festival and Spring War), neither of which focus on it as a dedicated activity. Thus, Fields of Steel was born.

We went in with the goal of putting out a high-quality event that was accessible to as many people as possible – we found a new site for this purpose which allowed us to keep costs very low (Early booking fee was $95 full priced attendee with dorm or camping plus food from Friday night to Sunday Lunch).

We built a moderately large team to support us and put people in key positions where we predicted they would be needed. As with any first-time event of this scale, there were a few hiccups, but they were largely dealt with on-site with thanks to our excellent community and their willingness to volunteer to make the SCA work. That said, there was a lot of work involved and I estimate that from the Monday before the event to the end of the event and arriving home, I did a 90 hour week for Fields of Steel related activities and I doubt I was the only Steward to do so.

An example of the firelight torches on the field with some colourful characters posing. Photo: RJ Roach

With all the planning and work we put in, we were able to bring a firelight tournament to Innilgard. While nowhere near the scale of Great Northern War, it was a good foundation to begin with and hopefully we can put on future events with firelight activities. The costs for this equipment have been carried privately and the labour was skillfully done by TH Lord Kit Hackforth.

As part of our experiment with the event, there was the idea that people could really enjoy rapier war if they had some more knowledge on how to do it better. To that end, we applied for grants from the Rowany Fighter Auction Fund and the Lochac Stronger Kingdom Fund to help defray the costs of bringing 4 guest martial teachers in. We were blessed with a volunteer arts and sciences guest teacher who offered an alternative to the martial stream in the form of cheesemaking, which many locals and visitors loved.

These classes crammed a lot of information into heads and I hope it inspires people to learn and develop skills and to share them with others – likewise, I hope it inspires those we brought over to consider continuing to teach their classes in a rapier context to help grow Rapier War in our Kingdom.

The food was amazing for the event, we were very lucky to have tapped a skilled feast cook in the form of Lady Angharad – without her I don’t think this event would have been anywhere close to as successful as it was.

We also managed to put together coins as gifts, prizes and thanks (photos to come). TH Lord Kit and I made period coin dies and struck a number of coins. These coins served as prizes for the martial activities and prizes for the best heraldic display. Something I wanted to do was introduce the idea of a Stewards thank you – inspired by the practice at Rowany festival. Key guests and event officers were given a coin, and the stewards each nominated a number of volunteers at the end of the event to receive a thank you coin. As I mentioned in court, this event would not have run without people helping make the event work and even small acts of help made a major impact (more on this theory in my new writing)

The (now) Honourable Lady Adeliz and I, equally skilled at funny faces. Photo: H Taylor

The best part of the event for me was catching up with friends from afar and seeing them recognized in court. I had written a bunch of recommendations before the event and it was great to see the process work. A special thanks for this goes to our Khagan who went above and beyond in coming out to the event, despite last-minute weather chaos in Sydney and the pain of dealing with chaotic airports and canceled flights. The entire Royal family were planned to come out for Fields of Steel but the airlines only made it possible for one of them to make the event. I found this rather inspiring though, as the Royals could have canceled entirely and we would have been sad, but completely understanding – freak weather incidents and flight cancellations are out of anyone’s control.

As an overall summary, I think the event went well and the feedback I received was that people had fun. If we manage to run this again in 2 years I have a list of improvements and adjustments to make it even better and I hope we’ll see many returning visitors as well as new faces. The biggest possible thanks I can offer goes out to everyone who helped out, who fixed problems before they existed and who helped keep me sane. I have much love for you all.


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Rapier Championship and Congregatus

During February I had the great pleasure to attend Innilgards Baronial Rapier Championship – usually an excellent fencing event and this year was no exception.


Carrying on a piece of theater from Fields of Gold, where I was presented the Lochac Seals of State by King Steffan and Queen Branwen to transport them to Innilgard to put into the hands of the new Provost of Scribes, I delivered them to Baroness Aeschine and Baron Cullan, as the local representatives of the Crown, to present them to Baroness Fionn.

Having completed that, I spent the day successfully field marshaling the event, getting a front row to some excellent fights. I’m lucky to be part of a Barony full of many strong fighters who are generally fun to be around to boot.

There were some excellent fights during that tournament and the finals were some very impressive fencing.

More recently over Easter I traveled across to Krae Glas for their Easter-not-Festival event Congregatus Australis. I got to spend a lot of the event playing in a commercial kitchen with skilled cooks and chefs which made the process very easy. I find working in the kitchen to be a good escape. Some nights with over 100 people in the feast hall, it gets intense, being able to work somewhere semi-quieter with less people is almost relaxing.

The food overall was incredibly impressive, and the kitchen worked to a very high standard.

I taught two classes, a stripped down version of my introduction to rapier class and my Krapfen doughnut class.

I didn’t have the energy to engage in much fencing this weekend, but I did have great fun marshaling the Princess Bride tournament, with many stupid deaths and not quite deaths. A fun format that I think would be worth trying here locally.

Sadly my Krapfen didn’t turn out to my standards. I suspect juggling some prep in the kitchen while managing a class that was much larger in attendance than I expected lead to mistakes. That said, the small children enjoyed the deep fried spiced fruit sugar things which at the end of the day is the real goal. On the topic of sugar I got to take Mistress Bethonys sugar class and picked up a few tricks on boiling different types of sugar to make them workable. I suspect some taffy will be in the future.

I assisted in some authorizations in my capacity as an authorizing marshal in an attempt to bolster numbers of the marshallette in Krae Glas/Stormhold. Hopefully this will see a knock on result of more capable fighters taking to the field in coming years giving us bigger and better fields to play with.

I had a whirlwind of a time, met new people, caught up with old friends, got to know some people better. I got stupidly drunk one night but didn’t end up slapped in the face or banished as a result, so I’ll take that as a win. I had a great time just being social with good people, singing, drinking and being merry.

I also managed to conduct vital experiments into portable rapier marshal technology….

Apparently my rapier gear bag is large enough to move a body. Who knew….

I had the great pleasure of being presented a very swish tea towel as a gift by Baroness Krae Glas as a thank you for my work in the kitchen – originally I was unsure if it was an actual gift or just a ‘use it now’ gift – I had planned to swipe it anyway and dare Krae Glas fighters to come take it from me, but apparently she later confirmed in court it was a gift to keep. Very much appreciated.

Which is why I was blown away when I was presented with the Order of the Delphinus Dionysi at the closing court (the “you’re a foreign devil who does good stuff” award for Krae Glas). Unexpected but appreciated and I’ll have to use it as motivation and excuse to visit more often.. another meerkat invasion anyone, or maybe a surprise Amos ambush feast..

And as I’m writing this I still haven’t unpacked the car, or started washing.. but in 9 days I leave again to drive to setup site for Festival and do it all over again. Looking forward to it, but I strongly suspect this month will fully exhaust me.

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