Posts Tagged ‘tradition’

The sound of church bells on a Sunday is a quintessentially English thing.  Many religious houses all over the world sound their bells but English ringing is just itself, even if others may imitate.  I remember sitting in long meadow-grass as a child.  Sitting and listening to the magic that came from Saint Margaret’s about half a mile away.  At that distance, the music has a wonderful quality ; it is not so much muted as rounded ; the sharp sound made when the clapper first strikes is softened, though still distinct.  And the music is somehow made more melodious.

Also, at that remove, the sounds are received softened, it seems, by having rolled leisurely over acres of grassland.  It was as if the music had borrowed some of the scent of the wildflowers on the way ; and some of the colour, too.  Perhaps it was a little warmer.  At any rate, I used to do more than just listen ; I enjoyed a whole experience.

And not only enjoyed but thought about it, too ; for every schoolboy knows that, just as the sound of willow on leather is in a slightly different world from the image, so the sound of the distant bells was out of kilter with what the bells were actually doing at that moment.  I didn’t do the calculations of time and distance when I was that young, but I did reflect on the paradox that sound and vision might be born as twins but soon live in different worlds ; the perceived  ‘now’ of one is not the same as the perceived ‘now’ of the other.  Unless, that is, there is some mystical connection between the two (which there is, of course).

Some years ago I had the pleasure of conversation with a professional organist.  Ho told me of the occasion when he was invited to have a wee go of a cathedral organ (St Paul’s, I think).  “This mighty machine was eerie,” he said, “Because there is delay of about three seconds between hitting a key and hearing the sound.”  I wondered if he was having a joke.

So much for merry sounds at a distance.  But it can be a very different tale close up.  We sometimes read of newcomers to a town or village who consider their lives to be blighted by the bells of the parish church.  It seems that the idyllic setting that they so approved of when merely considering buying their property quickly loses its charm after a few months of regular entertainment.  I do have much sympathy with them, for bells can be fearsomely loud.   Well, they would be, wouldn’t they?  After all, they were designed to rouse the populace from their slumbers of a Sunday morn.

On the other hand, my sympathy wanes when I reflect that the house-buyers ought to have known that bells are made to be paid attention to ; they ought to have known that their Sundays would never be the same again.  Such complainers are usually commuters, who are content to enjoy 150 decibels-worth of ugly din on the M1 five days a week but who baulk at 151 decibels-worth for half an hour of music on a Sunday.

On balance, my conservative instincts tell me that the church bells win this argument.  In the name of tradition alone their case is solid.


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I love my country.  Or, rather, I love my countries.  For, ancestrally, I am more than half Scottish, nearly half Irish, and with perhaps a little English filling the gaps.  But culturally, I am more English, because I was born and bred in England.  And, if you ask me about my nationality, I say without hesitation that I am British.  I am likely to explode if I am asked to define what Britishness is, because that is a facile question that has no answer.  I suspect and fear that it is a question that our politicians will be asking with increasing frequency from now on, in their attempts to evade responsibility for the desperate mess they have got us into with regard to the mass immigration that has occurred in recent years.

Did I say ‘occurred’?  Well, it now transpires that it didn’t merely ‘occur’, but eventuated from a deliberate policy of admitting very large and uncounted numbers of foreign people.  And all for the purposes of changing for ever the demographic composition of our country ; and all engineered in the interests of destroying our traditional culture so as to facilitate the construction of a politically correct one.  And, of course, the politics is derived from Marxism – the ideology that has probably caused more misery in the world than any other.

There is so much to be said about all this but, for now, I will only record my utter dismay that our politicians have sunk so low ; so low as to wish destruction on the well-springs of our freedoms.  And so low as to try to eliminate our traditions ; and so low as not even to consult us in the matter.  The actions of the NuLab government have been described as treasonous.  I have to agree with that.

Again for the record, I have travelled in many countries and have happily dwelt betimes among good people of many cultures ; but their cultures are not my cultures.

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