A little thing to keep the blog going. On the mantelpiece above my fireplace is this:
It’s obviously a bell. In September 2010 I was in my Cambridge College taking part in the annual reunion of all St Catharine’s people. It’s a major event that has been held almost every year since 1923 when the St Catharine’s College Society – for all around the world who have studied at the college – was founded. It normally includes a talk by a college academic, tea, the Society’s AGM, Evensong, a drinks reception and a black tie dinner with speeches. Many then go to the bar, and there’s often a live jazz band.
One of the features of the Society is that at the AGM it elects a new President each year. That afternoon, in September 2010, the AGM agenda included one David Peace to be the Society President for 2010-2011. And so it proved: the next morning I embarked on my presidential year.
The weather was good that afternoon, warm and bright. Before the AGM I wandered round the College and noticed someone I vaguely knew sitting on a bench in Main Court. He was an American in his 70’s, an old College alumnus, and he was wearing his College gown. He was also a Buddhist monk and head of a West Hampstead commune. Given the College and University connection we’d met a few times in London.
For reasons that he didn’t explain he had travelled from London to see me and to give me the bell. Curiously, he hadn’t booked to join the Reunion: all he wanted to do was to give me the bell at the start of my presidential year. That he did; we had a chat; and he departed back to London. Odd.
Anyway, here it is. It has no clapper, and it’s not supposed to have a clapper. Next to it is a wooden baton. My Buddhist friend, sitting on the bench in Main Court, held the bell by the handle and ran the baton gently round the outside of the rim. The result: a low continuous hum rising in volume as the baton circumnavigated a few times. I’ve just done it again: for those who know about musical pitch, it’s G.
Well, that’s the whole story. We’re now ten years on; I’ve not seen him again; it’s nice to have it here; and so I’m grateful.
That was written yesterday. Today to hospital; tomorrow the PEG operation; and all being well I’ll be back at home on Wednesday or Thursday. Normal service will be resumed thereafter.