The problem with Sundays
The problem with Sundays, as I have no doubt complained here before, is that I blast out of bed at the crack of 8 a.m., stumble around groping for glasses, teapot, tea, and clothing, in that order,* bolt for the tower, ring like fury for forty-five minutes and . . . collapse. It’s 9:30 a.m. and I’ve had it for the day. And today is one of those Sundays that I am very glad I was not ringing a quarter peal for the evening service.**
Vicky asked me today if I’d suffered any ill effects from last Sunday’s quarter and while I admitted truthfully that I had not, I did not like the answering gleam in her eye. Sigh. I wish the dratted ME would schedule itself: okay, it says here I’m going to be lunchmeat Thursday afternoon, but I can have Sunday evening. It and I could have a software diary we shared, like Colin does with his wife: when he and Niall and I check our handbell evenings Colin wants to see ‘yoga’ appearing the next Thursday because it means Anthea is otherwise occupied. I could click on a date and find out if I’m otherwise occupied. You know those create-your-own Monopoly games? I could have an ME Monopoly: Do not pass Go. Do not collect . . . In fact, do not do anything. Just sit there, staring vacantly. If a day is empty I’m free to make plans; if it says JAIL I’m, well . . . But the ME ‘chance’ cards will be contentious: Parking fine, £20,000, you left your ostrich cart at Buckingham Palace gate and wandered off to catch Faster Pussycat Kill Kill at the Institute of Contemporary Art***; Pay your insurance, £5,000, but it won’t cover the large hole in the roof of your house caused by a small passing spacecraft navigated by a small green person suffering the small-green-person version of ME†: repairs will cost £1,000,000, including that the builders will take twice as long as necessary because they’re so busy laughing. Small green people! Ha ha ha ha ha ha! —You can get a lot on a Monopoly card if you write small.
Richard is back from Tannu Uriankhai or wherever the hell he keeps going: he’s one of the best ringers we’ve got—I’d say it’s he and Edward and Felix, and Felix, drat him, seems to have disappeared again—and he’s never here. There ought to be a law: if you’re a good ringer you have to ring. Stay home, or we’ll take your passport away. The particular thing about Richard is that he’s also a stabilising force: I swear we all ring better with him around. It’s probably just the comforting knowledge that he’s always where he ought to be, so if you pass him or dodge with him at the point you think you should . . . you’re right, because he’s there. Colin is like that; so is Rupert, my ringing master at my original tower a decade ago, who conducted last Sunday’s quarter. Niall—and Vicky—good as they are, aren’t quite in that category, although I will forgive Niall almost anything †† and Vicky is brilliant at hints: you’re looking around wildly for where you should be and where you should be going, and she’ll catch your eye and nod you in the right direction.
Vicky, Niall and Dorothy were talking about the very posh wedding they’d rung at a very posh tower yesterday—which is why Amy had asked me to ring at Sox Episcopi, because her usual reinforcements were off being posh. Sox has a wonderfully pretty Victorian church: Amy told me to take a detour on my way out of the tower and have a mooch around. It’s even prettier inside, it looks like it has been Tab B into Slot A’d into existence from the pages of The Kelmscott Press. ††† But the bells are tinker bells, music-box bells,‡ the tenor—the biggest bell—is only a few hundred pounds, and the treble is about the size of a cow bell. When you’re taught to ring you’re taught to pull through: you start with your arms over your head, elbows straight, and you pull all the way down till your hands are pointed at the floor‡‡. You can’t do that on these bells! The wheels are too small! The ropes are too short! Your hands bob up and down between about chin level and belly level and they bob fast—also because they’re so little, the bells whip around their 360 degrees like, ahem, the clappers.‡‡‡ And the bells are so light that the weight of the rope will stand them at backstroke; you don’t have to pull your backstroke at all. And the ropes are tiny! It’s like pulling on dental floss! Your hands slip because you haven’t got anything to get a grip on!
New Experience. It was a lot of fun.§ And it was raining so hard the wedding guests probably couldn’t hear us anyway.
Maybe if I hung a cow bell around PEGASUS’ neck I’d find her easier to follow. . . .
* * *
*At this point I usually let hellhounds out of their crate. Occasionally I absent-mindedly let them out before I get to the ‘clothing’ stage and then the chief leaping and yelping is me.
** Not least because it’s been one of our few gorgeous days recently and I folded up PEGASUS early and went out into the garden. The roses and clematis and dahlias and daylilies and geraniums and rudbeckias and echinaceas and osteospermums and snapdragons and sweet peas and pinks and petunias and pansies^ etc looked at each other and said, Do we know her? Didn’t she use to come out here and, oh, feed us and deadhead us and look after us and so on?
Meanwhile hellhounds are saying, oh, the frelling garden. She never wants us to help her.
^ Trying to think about what’s flowering now.
*** Yes, I have, but not at the ICA
† Driving is the worst. He/she/it was probably fine that morning, and it clobbered him/her/it suddenly and he/she/it was 500 million light years from home, what was he/she/it going to do?
†† Except getting me started on frelling handbells
††† It also has the most adorable tiny pocket organ: two itty bitty keyboards and a pedalboard and about six stops, but the pipes soar up as gracefully as a Pre-Raphelite damsel, and there are a few mad curlicues around their heads like the hair in a Rossetti painting. I think this may be the little local organ that Oisin says sounds like an organ should: the one at my home-tower church is big and stately enough but kind of soulless.
‡ In keeping with the organ, I guess.
‡‡ Except I don’t. My handling is pretty grisly.
‡‡‡ I said to Amy, you could ring a quarter peal in about half an hour on these bells. She grinned and said, well, we rang one in 29 minutes once. A quarter peal usually takes about forty-five minutes: forty minutes is moving right along. But that’s on real bells, not flower-pots.^
^ There have been so-called mini-rings made out of real flower pots.
§ And I’m going to ask Oisin about that organ.
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