How quiet everywhere has become, not just the absence of our beloved bells, there are far fewer vehicles on our roads, no shrill playground noise, no one stopping for a gossip on the streets, no happy camaraderie at closing time, even the houses seem shut up and silent.
Many ringers are highly inventive and are trying to keep their skills alive in a variety of ways, some more curious than others. There is plenty that can be done; learning methods is an obvious diversion, planning a virtual outing including pubs could be another, having a go at composition or simply doing certain Pilates exercises to keep the right muscles trim!
It’s early days; even now I can see how we are looking out for our ringing friends. There are up-lifting newsletters, Facebook amusements, Facetime conversations, emails and text messages and, most of all, welcome, friendly phone calls which do much to lift the spirits and to hear another voice, especially for those who are self-isolating on their own.
These challenging times have left us stunned and quiet, giving us unexpected time for reflection. How often do we wonder, when was the last time …. I cut the grass, called auntie, had a haircut, dusted the house, tidied up the shed and so on? And of course, we can’t quite remember. But I expect every ringer would be able to say exactly the last time they rang a bell and enjoyed the company of other ringers. We have to hold on to the memory of those more carefree days.
I have a friend who has decided to learn a poem every day; John Betjeman’s Uffington seems to suit the time and mood:
Tonight we feel the muffled peal
Hang on the village like a pall;
It overwhelms the towering elms –
That death-reminding dying fall;
The very sky no longer high
Comes down within the reach of all.
Imprisoned in a cage of sound
Even the trivial seeks profound.
It would be amazing if we had been allowed to ring during this curfew, we would have been heard, and noticed, far and wide! That is just a dream, but hopefully when we come away from these distressing days, we WILL be able to celebrate and ring out loud and clear for all the world to hear!
The best of wishes to you all.
Katie Lane, March 2020