Monday, 25 March 2013

If I ever burn down a church

It will not be because of some protest against organised religion, against the opposition from various churches to gay rights, abortion rights, the right to die, condom use or sex before marriage - no. It will not be because of any of these things. It would be entirely down to one thing, and one thing alone.

Church bells going off all night.

Now I'm a heavy sleeper. I can sleep through anything once I'm actually sound asleep, but perhaps to compensate for this I am one of those people who takes ages to actually fall asleep. Thoughts whizz through my head, shopping lists and blog posts write themselves, Kylie Minogue sings bits of  her songs on a loop, dark and twisted sexual fantasies spring from nowhere.

Actually that last one is a lie - to my eternal disappointment most of my sexual fantasies are quite boring really.

Eventually I'll reach a state where I'm almost asleep. I'll start to dream. Usually I become aware of being in a 'dream location' before I can actually see it. I'm in my old school, or a buffet reception at a dingy hotel - i have some very cinematic dreams. I start to hear sounds. Voices etc. And then -BONG. BONG. BONG.

Fucking church bells. It's three O'fucking-clock and I'm still awake. Nowadays it's rare for me to be up past three even on a night, yet on this particular evening I've been hunched over a problem sheet til midnight and have been in bed trying to fall asleep sleep for over two hours. And just as I'm about to drift off, the clock strikes again. And again.

I do actually quite like the sound of churchbells. During the day. They're a bit useless in the morning as at say 10 O'clock I only really become aware of them once it's too late to keep count, but it's quite nice to be aware that it's something O'clock and then you can look at your watch or your phone or whatever the most convenient clock to you is saying, and then you'll know what time it is.

Perhaps in the middle ages, when nobody had their own clock, the hourly ringing of church bells would have been a lot more important, as presumably the only other way you could tell the time would be to stare at the sky and guess. But no more! We have clocks. We have watches and mobile phones.

And even if you're too poor to have a watch or a phone, or you smashed your phone on a dancefloor, or you got mugged - I fail to see how you could be more than an hour away from a working clock. Most people awake in the early hours of the morning are either still up from the night before or have the sort of job that requires you to be out of bed really early.

Waste disposal technicians (binmen), dairy delivery officers (milkmen. The hilarities of political correctness gone mad!) - these people all have to be up really early. They might have to be out of bed at something like 4.30 and out the house with barely enough time to eat a bowl of cereal. But these people surely set an alarm clock to do this.

Admittedly I'm coming from the privileged position of basically never having to get out of bed before 8 (and let's be honest, only very rarely before about half ten). But I just can't imagine a single group of people who appreciate hourly bells right through the night.

The sound of church bells should be a joy. You can be the most committed atheist in the world and still smile at the a load of bells going off in the middle of the day.  When they seem to be really going for it with tunes and everything.

Unless - like me - you live a stone's throw away from a church, in a Victorian house with single glazed windows. In which case you will probably want to scream.

LEGAL DISCLAIMER: in the aftermath of that guy saying he was gonna blow up an airport on Twitter I'd just like to be clear - I promise I won't actually burn down any churches.

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