Sunday, 8 November 2009

Bells and Bells

La Tuilerie Website

Anyone would think that I am obsessed with bells, but they are fascinating things and I am not the only one who notices the bells around here. One of our neighbours was telling how she could no longer hear the sound of the Taizé bells through her new double glazing. It was suggested by the rest of the company present that as she lived next door to Chazelle church, they would go out in the morning and ring those bells for her instead.

However, at the moment it’s not possible to ring the Chazelle bell. During Madame P’s funeral quite recently the solemn bell ringer was charged with ringing to bell to call the mourners to the mass, imagine his surprise when all of a sudden he was hit on the head by the bell rope that had detached itself from the bell and now had the aforementioned rope wrapped around his neck. In a church that can barely seat eighty people, this happened in full view of the whole congregation and set off giggles rather inappropriate to the occasion.

This little story brought a lot of laughter to our gathering as well and set Monsieur B off, reminiscing about funerals in Chazelle. He reminded the avid listeners of his own father’s funeral where no one could get up to the church because of the snow leaving his father stranded at the bottom of the hill because the hearse didn’t have snow chains. Everyone in the village had to chip in with digging a path to get his father up to the church. Not exactly what you want to do in your Sunday best. However, Monsieur B saved his best funeral story for last.

It is common here for people who have moved away to return to be buried in their family grave and this was exactly the wish of Monsieur S who had spent the last years of his life near his son in Paris. His funeral was to be in Chazelle and on the appointed day at three o’clock in the afternoon, the priest and mourners arrived. Monsieur S however, was nowhere to be found. By four o’clock the priest was getting restless, saying that something should be done to find Monsieur S. The funeral directors in Paris were called and yes he was on his way, in fact he had left at nine o’clock that morning and even with the Parisian traffic problems, he should have arrived before lunch. Frantic phone calls to the hearse revealed that Monsieur S and his pallbearers were indeed in Chazelle, but they just couldn’t find the funeral. Now considering that Chazelle has only three streets connected in a triangle and consists of about twenty house and a church, this all seemed a bit far fetched, even people who forget to bring their instructions as to how to find us never spend more than about 10 minutes in Chazelle before someone gives them directions.

This story all boils down to the beauty of a satellite navigation systems. All you have to do is type in where you want to go and you get there. Cormatin is easy, there is only one Cormatin in France, but there are a couple of villages called Chazelle and also some called Chazelles. It is a pity that the funeral director didn’t check which Département he need to go to before he set off on that fateful morning, but Chazelles in Département Puy-de-Dôme is not very close to Chazelle in Saône-et-Loire in fact it is about 200km away.

Now the priest and mourners were really getting restless. Let’s have the funeral anyway and maybe Monsieur S will be here in time for the burial. But how do you have a funeral for someone who’s not there? Brilliant idea, a relation in the village had a large portrait of Monsieur S on his wall, we can put that up near the altar, surround it with candles for a bit of extra ambiance and it will be almost as good as the man himself. Off to get the portrait which was duly placed in position and the mass commenced. The priest in full flow waving his incense around bashed into the portrait which went flying smashing the frame and sending some of the candles across the church. Quick repairs to the portrait and the mass ended without further incident but totally without Monsieur S. The burial however, had to wait from him to arrive which he finally did at nine o’clock that night. The priest returned to do the honours, but most of the mourners were long gone.

The moral of the story, don’t mention your double glazing over a glass of wine unless you want to set someone off on a story telling session and think before you use your sat nav. It is a pity Monsieur S’s hearse had not used the instructions of how to get to Chazelle on our website, at least we could have directed them back to the church, if they had overshot.

For instructions as to how to get here click here.

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