A FEW weeks ago, I wrote about my pleasure at hearing BBC's Radio 4 programme "Churchbells on Sunday." Two things happened. The first was that I discovered there was a Catholic Association of Bellringers called the Guild of St Agatha and they seem to he a very lively, happy, holy bellringing outfit altogether.
If they have their way — and good luck to them — they'll have bells ringing out all over the country. In mentioning the North of England in their newsletter, I noted "Sadly, considerable numbers of Catholic bells, both in the ringing towers and otherwise, are partially or completely silent."
Maybe the second reaction was a less happy one. Seemingly, I dropped a clanger (ugh) so far as a certain good priest in East Finchlcy is concerned. In a right old tizzy, he told mY Editor that he was "bemused" by my adulatory comments.
He denounced the BBC operator playing the bells for seeming "to be more intent on saying her or his introductory announcement as to whether the bells are being rung in 'Stedmann gaiters' or bishops' gaiters Or whatever and getting the playing over as quickly as possible, than in the music of the bells to the homely Sunday morning listener". Then he mellowed slightly and I must quote in balance.
"My youthful memory of church bells takes me back to their peaceful ringing on a Sunday summer evening as the cricket match on the green at the Cherry Tree, Old Southgate, drew to its close; the gentle music of the bells stealing across the meadow and Waterfall Lane from Christchurch, pronouncing a benediction on the afternoon's play."
"Churchbells on Sunday" can't be all that bad if it opens such magic casements on his memory.