I like the pealing of church bells, but they have to be good ones. We are cursed with living virtually under what I suspect to be the worst set of bells in Christendom, and to compound the misery, they are operated by the keenest and most inept set of ringers in Christendom too.
They don't just ring them on Sundays, but 'practice' most nights of the week for about 3 hours at a time, forcing us to turn up the radio in our compact but adorable kitchen, just so we can follow the dialogue on the Archers.
Sometime in the last half of the 19th century, they demolished what must have been a perfectly charming 18th century church and replaced it with the towering pinnacle which is photographed every few seconds by Japanese tourists who ought to know better, but obviously don't. The cost of rebuilding this church was about £9000, and I would imagine that 99% of the money went on the arrogant masonry (bits of which threaten to fall off every winter, and would kill any passer-by), leaving a pittance for the casting of a new set of bells (one original remains, but is swamped by all the others when it rings), and they got what they paid for. Bells like these could only be rung be tone-deafers, and if you weren't tone deaf when you started, you would be after four weddings and a funeral.
The ringers used to go to the nearby 'Green Tree' pub at around 9.30 on practice nights, and one night some years ago when I had just about enough of them, I stormed into the little old pub with the intention of killing them all where they sat, but lost heart as soon as I saw them sitting about with pints of English ale in their hands, looking expectantly up at me as I entered.
There were about 8 of them, with ages ranging between about 90 and 15 (the 15 year-old was nursing an Olde English Coke), and I began by asking them, "Are you the bell-ringers?!"
The 90 year old simply said "Yes", with a benign and welcoming expression on his face, so I left it at that and ordered a pint for myself before leaving without another word. They probably thought I was plucking up the courage to ask them if I could have a go sometime.
I should have killed them all when I had the chance, because I guess that the old one has since died and been replaced by a younger fellow with a lot more energy - they seem to practice for 5 nights a week these days, and continue for about an hour longer than they used to. When you add weddings, funerals, Christmas, New Year and Memorial day to that, I am surprised that their tinny bells haven't worn through at the clapper.
The thing is that I know they can muffle their bells because they do just that on the 11th of the 11th every year, and occasional during funerals, so why don't they always do it?
I did think about offering the use of our compact but adorable city apartment as a Mosque and setting up an amplified call to prayer on the roof-top by an elderly and tone-deaf Moslem smoker, pointing right at their place of worship, but for one thing I don't think it would be allowed to continue for longer than one dawn, and it might attract all sorts of unwelcome attention.
As I write, a large and well-attended rugby match is about to take place on the other side of the river. What with car alarms, police sirens and the rest of it, the noise pollution in Bath is reaching an unacceptable level. I think I might have to go deaf in my old age.