Bells In The Batfry
One day Quasimodo was riding his bicycle through Paris, early on a
lovely summer’s Sunday morning. There were very few people up and
about, so he felt happy to whistle his favourite new song as he went
on his way.
He usually arrived at Notre Dame long before the rest of the bell
ringing team, so in his own kind way he thought
(adopt Allo Allo French accent) “I’ll get the bells up on the stays
for the team.”
He parked his bicycle and continued whistling as he went. The Father
was busy at the far end of the cathedral, lighting candles in time
for mass. He called “that’s a merry tune you’re whistling.” That
only made Quasimodo even happier.
He climbed the stairs to the belfry and thought he’d start with
the smallest bell, working his way around the ropes until he came
back to the largest bell – usually rung by his friend Marcel.
(Technical campanology interjection – the bells hang upside down
when not in use. To get the bells “up” one must gently pull the
rope to get it swinging. The pulls get longer and longer as the
bell swings higher side to side (now now, this is serious !).
As the bell reaches to top position there is a wooden cross bar
called the Stay, and the bell sits against that in the “up”
position, until the whole team starts the peal. Once finished,
after all the pulling is completed, the bells as returned to the
Anyway, back to the merry story. Quasimodo got the first bell up,
but the stay felt weak. Should it break, the bell might swing around
and around, drawing the rope up the tower, with the ringer attached.
So, ever the hero, Quasimodo grabbed a torch and climbed the spiral
stairway to the bell tower, still whistling his favourite new tune.
Being a very keen team of ringers, they kept spare parts near to
each bell. The stay for Bell 1 had splintered, obviously a new
ringer had been having lessons and let the bell swing too far.
With the merry vibrato of his whistling echoing around the bell
tower, he started to mend the bell, positioning himself on the
perch between the smallest and biggest bell, so that he could get
a good grip on the stay.
Downstairs, Marcel arrived but he didn’t see Quasimodo’s bike. He
went straight to the belfry and thought “Strange, Quasimodo is late,
and I’m the first here, I shall get the bells up, mine first to
save anyone else hurting themselves with the heavy rope.
SWING, SWING, DING, DING DIONG, DONG DONG DONG !!!!!
The large bell swung straight at Quasimodo, drowning out his merry
tune. It knocked him off his perch and his hammer got caught in the
mechanism. He tried to climb free by wrapping his legs around the
bell, but it was still swinging. He slipped and the hammer caught
the cogs, pulling them offline, unshackling the bell. The bell and
Quasimodo crashed through the bell tower wall and descended towards
the river below.
They landed with an almighty splash, thankfully with the bell in
down position. Miraculously, it floated on the air cushion it had
created as it landed and Quasimodo was so relieved. He also noted
that he had not stopped whistling his favourite new tune all the
way down from the bell tower. He was so happy that he burst out
in full voice (adopt crap Allo Allo accent )
"I’m Ringing In The Seine, Just Ringing In The Seine……"