Or: A bell full of summers
The other week, it was a Saturday, something happened to me. I am reminded of it by a crystal glass that looks like an elegant clear-cut grail that you’d drink pearls melted in wine out of, it is my special wineglass when I am at home - except when there are certain special guests who also have a dispensation on the smoking ban, such as our dear Mother, because then the special guest gets to drink out of it - when I tap against this glass, it sounds like a clear, crystal bell. One could imagine what an organ of these things would sound like but we will leave it at the single tone, if we remember Arvo Pärt’s lesson of yesterday. So this bell reminds me of a day that three bells unexpectedly and quite spontaneously came into my life.
The first, on my computer; I don’t know who put it there, but when I move it, or start certain programmes, different ones each time, it goes drrrring, in a way which reminds me of childhood, as we have since become plagued by many other, different tones doing service as bells. I have shaken my computer and it won’t budge, nor will it tell me who put the bell there. It is a mystery.
That same night, I went to meet the friendly Czech puppeteers. One of them disappeared for a while, to go to the tent he said, to check everything was ok. Later that night after a few drinks I took my brand new bicycle and saw to my astonishment that the aliens had landed! They had planted a huge, bulbous gleaming bell, looking like a shiny mushroom on my right handle bar. Two notes: ding…dung… sounding like a baritone ship bell in bicycle bell equivalent, making a downward minor third interval. The first two notes of “Hey Jude”. Needless to say this is what I now sing OUT LOUD (how else can you do this?) whenever I ride my bicycle and it could be heard all the way home as I cycled back that night in the drizzly rain. Woe to the sleepy people of Antwerp. Believe me, when all is quiet sound travels in this town. I find it hard not to ring my bell even when I don't need to, although it has a clear but ever so slightly melancholy, er...ring to it.
The third bell, well, I woke up in the morning, and suddenly heard a high-pitched ringing in my ears. It is very faint, very light. I don’t know who put it there and I hope it goes away. It must have been the loud music of a few days before. Some people go crazy from such ringing in their ears. I shall consult my recently re-found friend E. of times past who has since metamorphosed into a specialist on the subject and is researching the subject here in Antwerp. That will be a good excuse anyway to meet up again after the pleasant reunion we had.
That was the three unexpected bells. It has a little tail too. The day after the puppeteers had left Antwerp, after gracing us with their presence a full summer long, my roommate N. received…
...a bicycle bell in the post. Someone, not an alien, or a Czech puppeteer, she assured me, had accidentally broken her bell; this was a special gift. A closing note to the special summer that had me wishing for a request on an organ at the former monastery up in Holland that the organist couldn’t play because he didn’t have the music with him, only to hear it, after the ice-cream van had quietened down, tinkling on the carillon outside my house as soon as I arrived home. Strange and amazing and beautiful, sounding symmetry.
My heart is like a bell. Now I just need to find a way to make it ring.
Love from S2