Last night I was able to attend the bell ringing practice in the tower of St. Michael’s and All Angels Church in Wolverhampton. I’ve attended practice three times now, so I’m beginning to understand something about this amazingly complicated and very English form of music making.
Several of the ringers allowed me to interview them on camera afterward in the local pub (there are two pubs within a block of the church, and having a pint after practice is an integral part of the experience) and they said some very wise things about bell ringing. It is a complicated undertaking, and ringers have to memorize intricate patterns and work together as a team. There are so many towers in England that you can spend every night of the week ringing with a different band. Peels of bells are pretty rare in Canada, though we’re lucky enough to have one in Toronto and in Victoria.
My friend Renee set up a breakfast meeting with her neighbour, Chris Twiggs, who happens to be an expert on touring WWI battlefields in northern France and Belgium. We poured over the map (literally – that is a tea cup you see there) and he gave me some advice about what to see on my trip later in November.
Now we’re off to visit a nearby village with notable ruins. I’ll tell you about it tomorrow!