Tuesday, December 31, 2013


Facebook's question du jour is, "What's on your mind?"  My answer is that I finished reading Dorothy Sayers' The Nine Tailors for the second or third time and enjoyed the mystery better than ever. I understood the process of change-ringing a bit more than in the previous reading (or readings). Sayers writes beautifully.
By contrast with the brilliance below, the bell-chamber is somber and almost menacing. The main lights of its eight great windows were darkened throughout their height; only through the slender panelled tracery above the slanting louvres the sunlight dripped, rare and chill, striping the heavy beams of the bell-cage with bars and splashes of pallid gold, making a curious fantastic patterning on the spokes and rims of the wheels. The bells with mute black mouths gaping downwards, brooded in their ancient places.
Tell me that's not fine writing. Better yet, think what you like, but if you disagree, don't tell me.

When I reread mysteries I rarely remember whodunnit, so the suspense remains the second or third time around, especially when years have passed between readings.

To see how change-ringing is done and how it sounds watch the videos below.



amyj said...

I found the descriptions of ringing changes fascinating in the Nine Tailors. I never knew anything about it before.
In the town I grew up in, there was a bell tower, and in the summer a man, Mr. Gray, would play for half an hour every evening. The bells were rung by pushing down wooden "keys". If you were very good, Mr. Gray would let you play one of the keys. He would tap your hand when it was the right time. The tunes were ones like "When Irish Eyes" and "Bicycle built for Two" IIRC.
Happy New Year's Eve to you, Mimi!

Grandmère Mimi said...

amyj, I did, too, and now when I think about the sound of change-ringing, I understand the numbers a bit more - not that I think I could ever do it.

Happy New Year.

Tim Chesterton said...

Believe it or not, I did change ringing when I was a teenager in exactly the way Dorothy Sayers describes it in 'The Nine Tailors' (which is a fine book, and, if memory serves me correctly, a fine movie too).

Grandmère Mimi said...

Tim, I'm impressed. I don't know that I could ever learn. I'm thinking of putting the series with Ian Carmichael as Wimsey in my Netflix queue.

Prairie Soul said...

Mimi, I bought a copy of The Nine Tailors some time ago when you last posted about it. For whatever reasons, my first try at reading the book failed. But a year or so later, believing that a fine librarian such as yourself couldn't possibly be wrong (!), I plunged in again and ended up loving the book. I didn't know anything about change ringing, so that part of the story was challenging to me. I did a fair amount of googling to attempt to understand--as well as to listen.

Grandmère Mimi said...

Prairie Soul, I'm pleased you persisted, because the effort is worthwhile. I need to read up a bit more to learn about hunting and bobbing and the rest of the terminology. I must say, the second or third time around was easier reading, plus I'd heard more actual change ringing than previously, so what I read made more sense.