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bell

The sound of a bell is a clear sign and reminder that there is order in the world. Even the shrilling of a fire-alarm is in that sense reassuring.
B/011

The ringers practised on Thursdays where my parents lived in Gloucestershire, working their way through the hidden mathematics of eight-bell changes. During the rest of the week, each day had its own eighteenth-century hymn tune, repeated by the church clock at nine, noon and six.
The slow passage of time while I was failing exams in the Schools was underlined by the characteristic pattern of Magdalen chimes.

Ushaw had one, cracked bell in the turret of the Pugin chapel. Only the most traditionally-minded bothered to use it, to summon the inmates for community mass on Wednesdays and Sundays.
The church in St Jeannet had two, somewhat out of tune, and the strange French habit of striking the hour twice: once at about five to, then on the hour.

Vilvoorde has the Troostkerk, the Grote Kerk and of course the Gemeentehuis; no Flemish charter town would leave the proclamation of time in the hands of the church. We used to hear the fine, clear notes from the town hall in the apartment, overlapping with the more sonorous tones of the parish church in the distance. Now we've moved, it is the convent bells that order the passing of the day: hours and half-hours, Angelus, mass …and two (twenty to twelve and twenty past four) of unknown purpose.
We are usually beginning to wake up, half-roused by the kettle coming to the boil, at the end of the morning Angelus; the evening Angelus begins to sound just as I'm walking the last few yards home from the station.
What we don't have in Vilvoorde is a carillon - Brussels, Leuven and above all Mechelen more than make up for this.