Day 21: For whom the bell tolls
I’m up in the bell-tower of Saint Anne’s Church in Highgate to have a lesson in bell-ringing. This campanological adventure is playing music as well as having fun. It’s playing with big machines / mechanisms, getting some good exercise, and learning a skill, all rolled into one.
I’m nowhere near good enough to join in rounds, but I learn to pull the tail and the sally (that’s bell-ringing jargon, right there!), and understand how you ‘feel’ the bell by maintaining tension in the rope.
It’s fun to watch the experts having a proper go, too, with most of the difficulty at their level coming from remembering your place in the order, and anticipating how hard and when to pull to shift places. I’m amazed at quite how much the whole tower shakes as the bells go, but then they’re pretty heavy objects swinging at speed.
I confess in the pub after that I don’t really get bell-ringing musically – it doesn’t play a tune. Instead it seems like a mathematical puzzle converted into sound. But even if it’s not much to listen to (in my small-minded opinion) it’s fun to take part in, and I’ll definitely be back!
A bell’s not a bell ’til you ring it, A song’s not a song ’til you sing it, Love in your heart wasn’t put there to stay, Love isn’t love ’til you give it away! – Oscar Hammerstein II