Sunday 11 November 2018

The bells! The bells!

Walpole St. Peter's Church (the church said to have inspired Dotty L.)

It's such a shame the BBC is scrapping Radio 4's Something Understood. This morning's edition on bells was a belter, beautifully delivered by Mark Tully - a fine mix of music and words. (Sir Mark seems to guess what things I'll like).

I learned, for example, that Dorothy L. Sayers wrote this in one of her Lord Peter Wimsey novels, The Nine Tailors on the subject of bell-ringing: 
The eight men advanced to their stations, and Hezekiah consulted his watch. 
Time, he said. 
He spat upon his hands, grasped the sallie of Tailor Paul, and gently swung the great bell over the balance. 
Toll-toll-toll; and a pause; toll-toll-toll; and a pause; toll-toll-toll; the nine tailors, or teller-strokes, that mark the passing of a man. The year is dead; toll him out with twelve strokes more, one for every passing month. Then silence. Then, from the faint, sweet tubular chimes of the clock overhead, the four quarters and the twelve strokes of midnight. The ringers grasped their ropes. 
The bells gave tongue: Gaude, Sabaoth, John, Jericho, Jubilee, Dimity, Batty Thomas and Tailor Paul, rioting and exulting high up in the dark tower, wide mouths rising and falling, brazen tongues clamouring, huge wheels turning to the dance of the leaping ropes. 
Every bell in her place, striking tuneably, hunting up, hunting down, dodging, snapping, laying her blows behind, making her thirds and fourths, working down to lead the dance again. Out over the flat, white wastes of fen, over the spear-straight, steel-dark dykes, and the wind-bent, groaning poplar trees, bursting from the snow-choked louvers of the belfry, whirled away southward and westward in gusty blasts of clamour to the sleeping counties went the music of the bells – little Gaude, silver Sabaoth, strong John and Jericho, glad Jubilee, sweet Dimity and old Batty Thomas, with great Tailor Paul bawling and striding like a giant in the midst of them. Up and down went the shadows of the ringers upon the walls, up and down went the scarlet sallies flickering roofwards and floorwards, and up and down, hunting in their courses, went the bells of Fenchurch St. Paul.

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