Tuesday, 28 April 2009

Things I didn't expect

I didn't expect the lasagna to arrive with chips, but the chips were superb and I got over the surprise rather quickly and with as far as I can tell, without sustaining long-term psychological damage.


My current hotel room is opposite a church. It's a rather pretty scene, an old, green graveyard with higgledy-piggledy, lichen-covered stones, a fine tower and an old and rather imposing yew tree obscuring the entrance.

I didn't expect campanologists to strike up at 7:30, but initially, I thought this might be charming - with the window closed, I would still be able to hear the bells, yet listen to the snooker commentary whilst finishing off my emails for the day and the pint of Beck's I picked up in the bar.

After the opening peals, I realised this would not be charming. These must the least coordinated and unrythmical bell ringers in the universe. The simple sequence of six descending notes, repeated time and again was never right. Bells rang simultaneously. Bell four would be rung before bell three. It was dire, and rather painful to have to hear.

I have no idea how difficult bell ringing is. I'm sure it's not easy, but these people are showing no signs of learning from experience. I suppose it's not possible for campanologists to get a bit of private practice, but this bunch are in grave need of a soundproofed room to practice in.

They've just struck up again. Another session of aural pain looms large. I've never previously felt a sense of dread on hearing church bells, but when that first bell pierced the peaceful evening soundscape of birdsong, snooker commentary and the clicking of my keyboard as I typed away, I felt a sense of dread and panic like none I've experienced previously.

I suppose I've never really appreciated just how good most bell ringers are. Church bells ring out all over the place and don't sound this bad. They sound pleasant. Quaint. Charming. Unobtrusive. I'm beginning to think I should thank the bunch of hapless ringers who've just ensured I'll never take semi-competent bell-ringing for granted again. I'd never have expected that half an hour ago.


trousers said...

I always quite liked what I perceived to be the inherent randomness of campanology (which is probably me showing much ignorance) - that no two sequences of notes would be quite the same in terms of order and spacing. Maybe that's just me though: I'm sure I could get my fix of such things, there's bound to be some software which replicates what I'm describing.

Or, of course, I could hang around churches at bell-ringing time, but that would be plain weird.

May I say it's lovely to see you posting from time to time again.

Random Reflections said...

I think there are many accidents that could befall a campanologist. Ropes accidentally strangling them, them being hauled up into the bell tower by the rope, the bell falling on them.

Just keep that in mind if it all gets a bit too much...

Rob Clack said...

Has your hearing recovered? I quite like listening to the bells...from a safe distance, of course!

But Why? said...

My apologies for so tardy a response (and the same goes for you, Random and you, Mr C).

I do normally appreciate the slight variation in note placement which is characteristic of so much bell-ringing one hears, but this was too extreme to bear. I haven't stayed at the same hotel since (despite it having a very nice sauna and charming pool in an oversized greenhouse, and serving what I believe to be the finest steak and chips I've ever tasted).

I must say it's far easier to find time to write when I'm away from home. (The over-riding factor in this is probably that I'm also then away from the lovely boyfriend.) I'd probably have been writing a bit more without the Crohn's thing - plenty I could have written about, but I didn't want to turn this into a Crohn's blog.

That is genius. If only I'd have read that at the time, I think I'd have become West Swindon's biggest mass murderer. I believe it's uncommon for murders to be committed by hanging, I think sabotaging the bells to effect a terrible, gravity-aided tragedy would be a far better plan!

Rob C,
Thank you, yes, my earrings appear to be unharmed...

sexy said...


Helen said...

Being a campanologist myself, I can vouch for the difficulty of church bell ringing! If everyone who is ringing is a 'learner' it is very difficult to progress any further! At all times during ringing the bells should strike evenly, the same distance apart at all times, however this is quite difficult as the ringer does not have 100% control over the bell!
However it is complex and very stimulating for the mind, in fact learning to ring different methods (tunes) is harder than standing on your head!!!!