Four Shires Guild of Bell Ringers

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Helen and I couldn't be at the Guild Dinner, because we had a week in Turkey. We notched up 40 years of wedded bliss in December (Helen may be considering amending that statement….) and we thought we ought to mark the event in some way. I said going to the FSG Dinner would do that nicely, but there was some disagreement on this subject. I hung out for as long as could, but… Ladies see things differently.

Turkey was interesting. We did a coach trip around the south-westerncoast and inland: about 1000 miles in all, taking in some sites of ancient Christian activity. We also saw minarets for real. They were everywhere, town or countryside, highlands or lowlands. Minarets are the Muslim equivalent of our church towers: they are used to call the faithful to prayer, just as our towers and bells do here.

Minarets do not, of course, contain bells. A muezzin is meant to climb to the gallery and chant the call. The call is made 5 times per day for about 5 minutes: at dawn, noon, mid-afternoon, sunset and night. I can confirm everything except night; and remember 5.50am on one occasion. However, the muezzins might be getting tired of climbing up what must in many cases be a very thin and severely restricted tower, as loudspeakers were to be seen on the majority of minarets. Perhaps like ringers, muezzins are getting old with no younger and more-sprightly blood to take over! I suspect, too, after listening to calls made in various parts of our tour, that the calls may be a recording, as the voice and the pitch sounded very similar: and why not? If just flicking a switch does the bizz… We could have the same system: just flick a switch and a record of bells starts, or stationary bells are chimed by hammers….. Perhaps not; and just imagine the outcry if bells sounded five times per day, every day! It may be what you're brought up to.

If we were used to having bells sounding five times per day (the French generally get bells soundings on 3 occasions, sometimes duplicated 5 minutes apart), then that would be the way of life and woe betide anyone who objected. What a very democratic society we live in: some person objects to a sound — a cockerel in the country, even — and it all has to stop because it's affecting someone's Human Rights to peace or whatever. What about those who like the sound — and what about the cockerel: does he head for the pot because he's doing what he's meant to do? Probably.

Our tour took us to the ruins of Ephesus, where St Paul stayed for some time. It is believed he wrote the Bible's Letters to the Ephesians. The site has been excavated over many years, with parts of some buildings being reconstructed from the relevant stones lying around: a very large jig-saw puzzle! The Celsus Library has become a famous trade-mark of the site since its reconstruction in 1960s and 1970s. It was in that building that I met Sophia. I did not expect to meet her in such an unusual location — and she was there without Richard. In fact, she's been there a very long time and I doubt whether this one knows anything of our illustrious Art, let alone anything about running a ringing practice: see below:

The goddess Sophia or ΣOфIA
(the name means Wisdom — but surely we knew that…)