Blowing Air …

Our last livery function of 2023 was an evening with the Worshipful Company of Fan Makers. As ever, enormous fun, but you might feel this photo needs a caption:

Photo courtesy of

My beautiful assistant, Elisabeth, stood and demonstrated the technique with a ‘thwack’ of her battle fan, followed by my explanation:

“Though I try not to make a habit of speaking on her behalf, I would also like to reiterate the Lady Mayoress’s thanks for the beautiful Austrian fan that was gifted to her at the start of our mayoralty, which she is carrying with pride this evening.

In years gone by, ladies used subtle movements of their fans to communicate secret messages. Though I try to be a polyglot, I haven’t quite mastered the “language of the fan”…

…though I know a sharp dig to the ribs with the pointy end means “stop talking, Michael”. As sharp dig used to mean I was in the dog house, now it means I’m in the dog mansion.

Now here’s something you’re unlikely to know. Elisabeth and I are newly converted battle fan fans. We both enjoy tai chi and, during online sessions in lockdown, our tutor suggested we incorporate Japanese and Chinese “war fans” or “battle fans” into the routine. Tessen jutsu as it’s known.

These “Tessen” – literally, iron fans – looked harmless, but concealed deadly sharp “ribs”…making them the perfect weapon for samurai warriors looking to surprise their enemies.

The versions Elisabeth and I have are harmless plastic, though they do make a rather impressive ‘thwacking’ noise, so much so, in fact, that our tai chi instructor had to stop our lessons from China after one too many complaints from the neighbours in the early hours of the morning.”

… whence I concluded with my own ‘thwacking’ demonstration above.