Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Not so much Wordless (Wednesday)


as speechless.

This is a picture of the clock tower in the little Welsh market town of Knighton, just over the border from Valley’s End.

Speechless might not be a suitable word either, for the good burghers of Knighton have had plenty to say since it’s become known that a new inhabitant of the peaceful town has made an official complaint about the clock, under noise nuisance regulations.  Every fifteen minutes, day and night, there’s a ding, and a dong, and a ding dong, just like it’s been for 142 years. “It may be an irritating clock”, the townsfolk say, “but it’s our irritating clock.  Besides, you soon stop hearing it going on about its lawful business; and we’d all miss it if it weren’t there any more. It’s part of our heritage.”

God help those who interfere with tradition in a sleepy, openly old-fashioned, slightly batty Welsh market town, which has a fair sprinkling of ex hippies, poetry and violin and book group lovers and a flourishing young farmer’s drama society.

The new inhabitant is a writer from Ireland. She has bought a large house in the square and opened a B&B for nervous writers who need a retreat to concentrate on their muse and whose delicate sensibilities suffer from the noise a clock makes.  Did it seriously not occur to her, that the chiming clock tower, that is barely 20 yards from her window, might be a slight drawback? It’s not as though she can’t have noticed it, what with the thing going off every 15 minutes, night and day. And walking up and down the high street to the ‘narrows’ , that warren of small streets and higgledy-piggledy houses on the border of which the writer’s house stands, you have to step sideways not to hit the tower. It’s large, it’s ugly, it’s unmissable, a typical Victorian monstrosity.

I went to see Helen in Knighton for a facial treatment this morning and this story was the first she told me. “It’s gone viral,” she said. It’s true, I’ve since googled ‘Knighton Clocktower’ and it’s all over the media. One thing’s for sure, whether the lady silences the clock or not, and I don’t believe she will, the Welsh are nothing if not bloody-minded, she’ll have had some very good publicity.


37 comments:

  1. I think the townspeople are right. When I was a girl, we moved to a house very near train tracks. At first, I was aware of trains passing day and night. Soon enough, my brain turned off the sound - I slept blissfully through it all. However, I doubt any visitor's brain would adjust quickly enough to have sound slumber. Remind me not to book that B&B!

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  2. I think clocks should go "tick tock," and that is all.

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  3. There is a church about half a mile from my neighborhood that has a carillon that chimes on the hour (it does that Westminster series and then chimes out the hour) from dawn to dark. And periodically it will through in a few songs. I've heard that a neighbor complained about it. But I absolutely love it. When I'm working in the yard, it's a reminder of the time and I don't have to check to see how late it's getting. And the songs are kind of magical.

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  4. Well, one thing's for sure, she won't be offered any free drinks at the pub.

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  5. I love the idea of a B&B for nervous writers . . . it is interesting what one doesn't notice that seems obvious later. No historical value to this, but when we long ago bought our first apartment in New York, we didn't have the sense to know that (a) we were on the third floor, just level with the streetlights, and since this was a large, "open space" loft, the lights came streaming into every nook and cranny and (b) the apartment was on a corner where the buses stopped and took extensive breaks, wheezing all the while.

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  6. I remember when my wife and I moved out of the city to an apartment in the suburbs. What we didn't notice before we moved was that our apartment was across and just down the street from the firehouse. It wasn't the fires that bothered me. It was the noon whistle, every day ... almost gave me a heart attack every time. Did I get used to it? Yeah, kind of. Anyway, now 30 years later, I've moved on; but that fire whistle still blows every day at noon.

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  7. Oh dear...a B and B for nervous writers....sounds like kill or cure!

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  8. A person who is apt to be annoyed by noises should check for annoying noises before buying a house and turning it into a B&B. She must be an extremely annoying person herself.
    Luv, K

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  9. what a cool little town...uh...yeah...that closk might drive me a bit batty if i was trying to write...ha...actually i write better in noise and around people so maybe it would work for me...

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  10. I would be very, very surprised if she succeeds. And wouldn't care to be her in the village in any event.

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  11. If I were a nervous writer, I'd like the town for its character and its clock.

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  12. Your post immediately reminded me of the conversation I had two years ago with a friendly couple in Ripon. In their home village, someone had (successfully) tried to stop the church bells from chiming. I wrote about that and linked to an article on the "Bristol Post" here:
    http://librarianwithsecrets.blogspot.de/2012/05/oldest-tradition.html
    If it weren't for the church bells ringing out at 7.00 every morning, I'd need an alarm clock to get up in time for work. I much prefer the sound of the bells to that of any alarm clock, and hope they will never be stopped while I live here.

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  13. This woman reminds me about the folk who choose to move to the country, want to enjoy the country life, then complain about the noise of the farmers' tractors and the smell of the farmers' animals. No sympathy from me. Let the bells ring I say.

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  14. I agree with Pauline. Don't move there if you want to make major changes. Sounds like someone might have a good plot for a nice Welsh murder mystery.

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  15. Hi Friko - having lived 'under' Eastbourne Town Hall clock for nigh on twenty years ... the bells are a blessing - some you hear, some you don't, some remind you of the hour ... and some you just absorb ... but they didn't chime from 11.15 pm - 5.45 .. seemed a good compromise - not sure when that was instigated.

    Newbies are crazy aren't they ... and selfish ... and thoughtless ... I suggest she moves back to Ireland ... I think there was a newbie trying to stop the bells in a small Suffolk village - it seems to be a sign of the times. Actually I'm surprised younger people can hear them - they deafen themselves with noise and then I'm interrupted with an intrusive noise ...

    As I write this with the window open - the Eastbourne Town Clock has come over on the sou'wester telling me it's 10.00 am! Cheers Hilary

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  16. The clock was certainly doing its ding dong when she was there - the noise itself - its just a matter of accepting it in your mind and soon it just becomes like the traffic on the road, or white noise of a sort - you know Friko, just the regular noises one would hear living in this town. I would not like to see an end to the clock. We have a church tower at the top of our street and it also ding dongs - I got used to it and find it rather soothing and comforting - there are different bells that sound to indicate certain things, so no matter how far you are away within reasonable distance, you can hear them and know what service is taking plate or if it is high noon or supper time. Shouldn't those writers soothe their writing ability with the clock in their next story. ha,ha

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  17. My goodness some people look for anything to be upset or annoyed about. That clock lends character to the town! I love the idea of it.

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  18. She really bought this place without taking the clock into consideration? She must be deaf.

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  19. How strange that it only bothered her after she had finally moved there. Reminds me of people who move somewhere near an airport and then complain of aircraft noise! Go figure.

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  20. I surely too would get crazy near a clock tower like that - so, I just would not chose to live near one. Simple as that! :-)

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  21. Friko, please keep us posted on this story line.

    Would you, or any of your local writer friends be willing to go undercover and check in to the B&B, to get more details? Of course, it seems that the B&B might never quite get off the ground.

    xo

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  22. Reminds me of when the neighborhood first started being gentrified. People would buy these over-priced badly constructed new lot line houses, move in, and then start complaining about the old cottages or unkempt yards or the neighbors sitting out front drinking beer and bringing down their property values. Dd they not look at the neighborhood or the other houses on the block before they bought?

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  23. Shaking my head at the audacity of the B&B owner. Giggling at the thought of a retreat for "nervous writers." I think I`d qualify.

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  24. Saw this on the BBC website and groaned. Don't people look around the neighbourhood before they buy a house? If she wanted peace and quiet she should have bought a house out in the sticks!

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  25. How ridiculous of her! Sounds like a self-centered wacko, actually. She can't possibly win. I hope she moves out of town--LOL! Crazy!

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  26. You're right, she should have bought a place in the next village perhaps.

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  27. Surely, she has here perfect material for writing about, either for her or her nervous guests, or both. And what other local issues could be whipped up? I foresee a Welsh version of Clochemerle. This one could run and run

    And I suspect Dylan Thomas could have made of her a wonderful addition to the population of Llareggub.

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  28. I can't believe I haven't heard about this - . Sounds like a joke but it isn't. I doubt she will stay long in Kinighton :-)

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  29. I think the clock tower is beautiful! The B&B owner has no reason to complain - the clock has been there forever, she should have done her homework.

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  30. Ah, the perils of the new-comer! She better enjoy the ding-dongs whenever she hears them; or move...

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  31. Great story! Yes, what was she thinking? I'm thinking you're spot on -- that there is little chance that she'll get them to quiet the clock -- and maybe that'll teach her a lesson!

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  32. What a dolt the woman is. She makes me think of the right-to-farm law here, "...which deny nuisance suits against farmers who use accepted and standard farming practices, even if these practices harm or bother adjacent property owners or the general public. Agricultural nuisances may include noise, odors, visual clutter and dangerous structures." (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Right-to-farm_laws)
    There are people who've moved here from way, way downstate, and having moved next to a lovely and picturesque farm, commence to complain about the scent of manure on the wind.
    Tant pis.

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  33. I believe that the constant chimes soothe and nervous writers will be able to improve their health!

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  34. Interloper. That is what she is! Believe me, I am Welsh by heritage, so I know these things. She will not win this battle. We have a saying in our family, "He or She is being Welsh." This explains our stubbornness and hard headedness. Really, as you said, did she not know that the clock was there when she bought the place? Nervous writers need to concentrate on writing not on their surroundings.

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  35. where i live, people from away (and "people from away" is what we call them) sometimes buy houses on dirt roads and then go to town meeting in march and demand the roads get paved. and they want to cut school budgets or some other thing to pay for it, because THEY don't have kids in the school.

    this is why we can't have nice things.

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