Oranges and Lemons…

October 15, 2008

I’m sitting in my office, which is located here, just outside the historic church St. Clement Danes (in fact the building I work in is called Clement House).  There is a famous English nursery rhyme about the church bells of St Clement Danes which goes like this:

Oranges and lemons”, say the bells of St. Clement’s
You owe me five farthings”, say the bells of St. Martin’s
When will you pay me?” say the bells of Old Bailey
When I grow rich”, say the bells of Shoreditch
When will that be?” say the bells of Stepney
I do not know”, says the great bell of Bow
Here comes a candle to light you to bed
And here comes a chopper to chop off your head!

Like most nursery rhymes, it’s actually a bit dark: think of “Ring around the Rosie,” which is about the plague, or “Rock a Bye Baby” which is about illegitimate children and the Glorious Revolution.  But at the moment it seems appropriate because I’m just about to chop off someone’s head.  The bloody bells of St Clements have been ringing continuously for the past 30 minutes or so without cease.  I don’t know what the heck they are ringing about (maybe the financial crisis is over?) but they’re definitely bad for the serious kind of thinking that’s supposed to be going on in this building.   This is a good example of how globalisation comes back and gets you: you think that you’re living and working in a 21st centry globalised mega-city, and then your work is interupted for 45 minutes by the bells of a 17th century church designed by Sir Christopher Wren.

If you want to hear what it sounds like for yourself, click on the below.  And if you want to understand how hard it is to work with it going on, watch it at least 65 times in a row, in a loop, while you try and write….

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3 Responses to “Oranges and Lemons…”

  1. LMP said

    I just had to write to say that it’s so much worse than I originally thought. I wrote the post at 12:50. Now it’s 4:40 in the afternoon and they are still ringing. Someone told me that St Clement Danes is the Royal Air Force’s national chapel, and today is a commemoration day, thus the bells. But really, they should issue some ear plus or something!

  2. […] while, these two aspects of its personalities come into sharp contrast.   I’ve mentioned in a previous post that my work is occasionally disturbed by the very loud bells of a 17th century church which is […]

  3. Waylon said

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