Friday, July 6, 2012

Bugged bells

Yesterday morning, at around 11 o'clock, I was surprised to hear the chimes of the Angelus ringing out across the Bourne Valley from the church in Châtelus.

I imagined that a marriage was probably taking place in the village. At midday, my neighbor Madeleine and her sister Paulette had invited me down for lunch. The first thing that Madeleine said to me was: "The bells of Châtelus are broken." What she meant was that the electronic timing device that was normally programmed to produce the chimes twice daily, at midday and at 7 o'clock in the evening, had gone haywire, and the Angelus was now being rung in a random fashion, at any hour of the day or night. I was reminded of the Parisian teashop that displayed a sign in the window announcing proudly that they were able to serve English-style "four o'clock tea" to clients "at all hours of the day". Clearly, for a pious and practicing Catholic such as Madeleine, the messages delivered by the electronic chimes had a more profound sense than the mere musicality that charmed my atheistic ears. Consequently, the fact that the bells were bugged disturbed her in the same way that my day is messed up whenever the Internet goes down.

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