April 30, 2012

STILL RINGING...:

Church bells ring the soundtrack of Britain: The Somerset couple who complained about the quarter-hour chimes are in the wrong place. Ringing goes straight to the heart (A N WILSON,  29 APRIL 2012, Independent)

A busybody's work is never done. Nick Yates, spokesman for North Somerset Council, last week informed the world: "Our case officer has assessed the complaint, as has a colleague, and they are satisfied that the noise is a clear statutory noise nuisance." To what can he have been referring? The yell of ladettes at 3am, as their lager-lout swains spewed in the town square at Taunton? The everlasting drone of long-distance lorries on the M5 between Bristol and Exeter? The pounding thump of heavy metal booming from open car windows as motorists snarl up in Yeovil, or the droning on, in local radio studios, of the know-it-all Lord Ashdown, giving his views on every aspect of the world situation? No, although those are all noise nuisances which afflict Somerset from time to time, Nick had found another which to his ears was more offensive.

The noise nuisance in question was the quarterly chime of All Saints' Church, Wrington. For more than 100 years, the bells have marked the quarter hours. The people of the village have absorbed the striking of the church clock into the inner music of their hearts. Anyone who has lived within the sound of such chimes knows how this happens. On the rare occasions when I spend a night in Oxford, the keeping of the hours by the clock towers in New College, and Merton, and the great booming of Tom tolling 101 times at 9pm at Christ Church are inextricably interwoven with memories and regrets and lost joys. The sound almost sends me mad, so intense are the feelings it evokes. The nation at large, when it turns on the radio, awaits the boom of Big Ben before the six o'clock news. We are a people "summoned by bells", to quote the title of John Betjeman's autobiography, and both the chiming of the hours and the complex art of bellringing are the inner music of our lives in towns and villages all over the land.

As witness, Still Ringing After all These Years (available on The Box)
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Posted by at April 30, 2012 5:58 AM
  

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