Bells and brainmelt
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So, you all think I’ve been bunking off Forzadeldestino, don’t you? No. Wrong. They had a forty-seven bell practise one week and then a concert or some damn thing the other week. That’s the worst of these ancient monument places: they’re popular. I feel that the sound of bells would enhance a concert . . . not with me ringing however. Sigh.
Today I had no more plausible excuses* and I had furthermore talked Maribel from Stanhope into coming too, so there’d be at least one other middling ringer there if Gemma wasn’t. So I really had to go.**
The climb up to the bell tower doesn’t get any shorter. And you do feel like you’re trudging through forty-seven centuries of English history to match the forty-seven bells in the tower. How many times have they had to replace the (crucial) ropes lining the twisty, claustrophobic little stairwells with the spiral, wedge-shaped treads the long ends of which are about big enough for Tinkerbell to get her feet on? I don’t know how the blokes with their size-twelves get up and down at all.
And the ringing . . . um. Well, I wasn’t quite as bad. Quite. But I also lowered my expectations and asked for a plain course of Grandsire Triples . . . which I still couldn’t get through without help. SIIIIIIIIGH. We also rang plain hunt on nine which is an improvement—from my perspective—on twenty-seven from three weeks ago. SLOW DOWN! screamed tonight’s ringing master, whom we will call Og, from the treble, when I think I was trying to lead when I should have been in fourth place. We stumbled through several courses of this and by the end I was actually ringing more or less in the right place. It’s different on higher numbers. It is. My screwing up Grandsire Triples, however, is not being able to see what I’m doing when the other bells are in a line instead of a circle.*** AAAAAAAUGH. However, they didn’t tell me not to come back this week either, so I have to go again. There are two things about this: in the first place, it’s too frelling humiliating that I simply can’t do it. In the second place . . . I could learn triples here—if I could learn it, which is the big stumbling block—and major and caters and royal and a lot of that stuff I’ve been feeling hopeless and frustrated about for years now. First I have to be able to cope with those bells in that ringing chamber. And I have to do it before they tell me not to come back. . . .
But I did have an amazing treat tonight. The tower captain, whom we will call Ulrich, took me up into the belfry to see the bells.† Ooooooh. Their belfry is, of course, mega whopping thumping ginormous colossal, to hold forty-seven bells. The tenor is the size of a pod of whales. A large pod of blue whales. I always say ‘yes’ to invitations to visit belfries†† and they’re usually incredibly cramped and frequently involve contortionist crawling while clinging to solid frames—don’t grab that wheel, it swings†††—and they also tend to be badly lit and full of dead flies. This one looked like they were going to have the duchess to tea there tomorrow. And it was so huge you could set up a tea-table in a corner, no problem, with room for the bloke with the gloves, tailcoat, deferential smile and the trolley with the six kinds of cake, four kinds of sandwiches and two kinds of tea. The staircase to the belfry, however, was even steeper and narrower than the final stair to the ringing chamber. Before someone gets elected steeplekeeper‡ they must have to measure the freller and make sure they’ll fit.
I managed to fulfill my previous prediction by blowing not one, but TWO paychecks on this auction.
I love stories like this. Who needs to eat every day? (Unless possibly you’re not menopausal.)
Sooooo worth it.
Especially since I have a sneaking suspicion I not only got myself into the top bidders, but actually WON the item I was drooling over.
Oh good! (And remember there’s a certain amount of laying-on of extras at top bid price for most items.) But all of you should realise I am dying of curiosity to know when any of the orders attach to some forum member or other. This doesn’t necessarily come through on the order forms Blogmom is sending me. In fact, it usually doesn’t.
Have we successfully saved you from the horrors of selling raffle tickets, or do I need to start dreaming up doodles?
Dreaming up doodles is always good. Well. Sort of good. You are somewhat constrained by the interesting intersection between my sense of humour and my drawing skills. But I think I’m going to avoid the raffle tickets yes, and thanks.
I am thrilled there are people out there with more money than I’ve got. . . . Good for you! I would have loved to get more stuff but that was not possible, so I am thrilled beyond measure that some of you were able to do these things.
The New Arcadia bells are also thrilled beyond measure. I’m looking forward to a certain dumb-struckness among the human acolytes, however, when I hand the cheque over. Vicky asked me a month or so ago for a rough guess about the proceeds from my auction, because she was due to go up against both the bell council and the parish council about how our fund-raising was going.‡‡ I said, cautiously, that I thought it should make £300. I guess maybe. Hee hee hee hee hee.
And I have to say, I am really thrilled that Robin is still alive
::falls down laughing:: I hear what you’re saying, but you might conceivably have thought of a more tactful way of putting it. . . .
(it seems a lot of the books I love to read were written long ago by people who have already died)
I do understand the problem. But I imagine that tea with George Eliot or Rudyard Kipling would not have been a success. Eliot would have found me bumptious and Kipling would have found me . . . female. And taller than he was.‡‡‡
and that it is possible to interact with a living author and thank her for her wonderful body of work. Thank you!
My pleasure. Usually.§ Thank you.
I can’t wait to see what I get in the way of a doodle in my book!
Oh glory. You mean you didn’t specify? Do you realise how dangerous that is? —And it’s getting dangerouser by the minute. And by the every-completed-doodle.
And however long that takes, no problem.
Oh good. I may need a few of you with that attitude by the end, when I’ve run through sixty-seven pens, four hundred and twelve A6 pads, and my eyeballs are frying.
I am thrilled with the prospect of anything at all.
Hey, whatever you’re on, can I have some too? This thrilled thing looks like fun.
* * *
* And what’s worse, I had another last-minute invitation from Niall to ring handbells with one of his fancy ringers at Frellingham when both their usual third and fourth went down with the lurgy. Waaaaah. Although—get real, McKinley—I’m sufficiently super-extra crazed at the minute with cranking out doodles that it may be just as well I couldn’t go. If I’m going to make an utter gibbering fool of myself, I’d rather do it at Forzadeldestino.^
^ . . . which is a good thing in the circumstances.
** This is all in my head. Neither Maribel—who does go to Forza practise erratically—nor Gemma needs a security blanket.
*** I overheard one of Forza’s band talking about having gone to an eight-bell tower and how close together all the bell ropes seem, and in this weird little circle.
† No bats in evidence however.
†† Stop that giggling.
††† This is why people are not allowed in belfries when the bells are up, that is, mouth up, balanced precariously on their narrow ends, ready to be pulled off and rung.^ You grab the wheel of an ‘up’ bell injudiciously, and you are about to be a spot on the carpet, or rather the belfry floor.
^ There are exceptions. But you have to know what you’re doing.
‡ Which is about the physical upkeep of the bells. I think if there’s anything wrong with the steeple/tower you call in the parish council and say, yo, your problem.
‡‡ It’s the usual thing where nobody is going to give you any money till you prove you’re knocking yourself out to get it yourself.
‡‡‡ About once a year I dream of meeting Kipling. Not Tolkien or E Nesbit or Edith Wharton or George Eliot or Anthony Trollope or William Morris or James Branch Cabell or Rebecca West. Rudyard Kipling.
§ Except when Story in Progress is holding you down and stomping the sh*t out of you. Sigh. . . .
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