Thoughts on caring about stuff

At the moment I’m surrounded by advice and philosophy that tells me not to care any more, ranging from the ‘F***it philosophy’ http://www.thefuckitlife.com/ to ‘http://howtonotgiveafuck.com/‘ and other ‘motivational’ posters such as this one http://9buz.com/youre-ghost-drivng-meat-coated-2013-11-14/ telling me “I’m a ghost driving a meat covered skeleton made up from star dust and not to be scared of anything. ”

Advice telling me that in the grand scheme of things, I have no importance. Or that the things I worry about aren’t important or aren’t worth worrying about. Not to ‘give a fuck’ about things. it’ll all come out in the wash.

Well the big problem is that I do care. I do care what people think. We all do. That’s why we spend time doing a good job. And investing in ourselves and improving our skills. Because we take pleasure from learning and improving and because we do care about the other people in our landscape.

We tell ourselves that ‘I don’t care what the others think’ but in reality its just a big security blanket and a double edged sword. We say things to ourselves ‘It doesn’t matter what they think just as long as I finish this contract/get the next contract/score the next home run/ whatever milestone you want in here. So we concentrate on that milestone , because if we get that, then they’ll notice what we can do, right? So We really DO care about what they think. Its dangerous, too, because other parts of our lives suffer , as we concentrate on that milestone and we forget other things, and  become obsessional and isolated.Nothing else matters but the job in front of us. Now.

Sometimes, milestones are important in our lives, getting that new job, adopting that child, winning that game, or that wedding day. Because in reality, we do care what others think. Its part of our self esteem. I have a friend from school, who I see from time to time.

I like to think that my friend thinks I’m a nice person to hang with.I think he is. OK, so now I start to sound like the drunk in the bar who loves everyone and there all his best mate……

I’m not saying we shouldn’t have goals. I’m saying that we should have goals , but not at the cost of other things.

Get that new job, but not at the cost of your health, or your marriage, or your self esteem. Or maybe what I’m saying is ‘Think about what you have and not what you want’ What you want shouldn’t be at the cost of what you have.

My colleague recently told me ‘You have to fight for what you want’ and perhaps that is true, but you also have to really think through what you want and be sure that what you want ,is what you want. OK, I’m starting to sound like Jean Claude Van Damme and his ramblings, or even Donald Rumsfeld with his ‘Known Unknowns’ quote, but  here goes”Knowing what you want is as difficult as getting it, if not more so”. Remember the saying ‘If you want to hurt someone, give them what they want’ and that is very true. People think they want a new car,  or a new house or a swimming pool then they get it, but they have the pain of paying for the car/pool/house afterwards.

Abandoning goals is always difficult, recently, due to financial costs and health issues, we decided not to adopt a second child. We tell ourselves that ‘we’ll raise one child real good, and live  for now’ but part of me found it very difficult to let go of the dream.

But once we had decided to stop , we knew it was the good decision. Even before we decided, we knew it was the good decision. That’s why we decided, right? The little voice again.

 

I’ve had a feeling that I’m at the crossroads in my career for a while, the ‘little voice’ in side tells me that in a years time I don’t want to be in my present company; that much I know. The problem is “I don’t know what I want to do’ and I never have done really. i did ecology at university and then drifted into teaching, I wanted to save the world, or to change it somehow. kidding ourselves that we do that 30 kids at a time or that recycling will help, is just that, a load of codswallop.

Oh, I tell myself the dream of writing poems would be good, or telling jokes to make people laugh, or translating , all things I enjoy. I enjoy teaching too, its just got a bit stale now. Like I’ve lost the audience. Like I’ve lost my talent. Besides, with the new technology that is coming, language teaching will be a thing of the past. Or does that just sounds like a bad excuse?

There have been times when I’ve not listened to the voice, and regretted it. Small things that became big, or everyday things where I can hear the voice telling me ‘I told you so’

Last year I applied to do a Doctorate and didn’t get accepted, the funding wasn’t in place. Now the voice tells me to try again, and to hope. But another part of me says ‘head in the clouds or in books won’t pay the bills’ and another says ‘Well, what difference does anything you do make anyway?’

 

I don’t want to wake up in 4 years and be told that my job at the University isn’t there anymore because now they only take doctors.

If I have to work hard in my life sometime, it may as well be now.

I tell my clients that ‘winners find a way, losers find excuses’ to motivate them; or to motivate myself. The problem is that realistically, we are all losers sometimes, nobody wins it all. And sometimes, losing teaches you stuff winning doesn’t. Losing and winning, perhaps Kipling was right to tell us to treat the two impostors just the same.

So we do care. That’s what makes us human. That’s why we want to touch people and events. That’s why we love and are loved. That’s why we work , play, and keep on living. Do we do what we do for others to applaud or condemn, like some crazy pantomime?

A boo and a hiss and a cheer and a tear?

A walk on part or a lead role in a cage?

 

So observations that we are just dust from the stars , and don’t touch the bigger picture, are just that. Observations. Chaos theory tells us that very small events can lead to bigger things. Even the Big Bang was caused by some very small event . Life, is about events and dealing with them. Telling people “not to care”  doesn’t fit any philosophy because I don’t know anyone that can’t care.

 

 

Advertisements

Blessed or Thankful Villages. Les Villages “Beni” ou “Chanceux”

1oo years ago, men and women  set out to fight in World War One

il y a cent ans , les hommes et femmes sont parti, dans la grand guerre. Voir la version francais au- dessous

 

Millions died, were wounded, lost , but some survived. The blessed or lucky villages were villages where no men died all the men and women returned.Some are double , both world wars.

Info from WIKIPEDEA

13 of the English and Welsh villages are considered “doubly thankful“, in that they also lost no service personnel during World War II These are marked with a (D) in the list below.

Buckinghamshire
  • Stoke Hammond
Cardiganshire
  • Llanfihangel y Creuddyn
Cornwall
  • Herodsfoot (D)
Cumberland
  • Ousby
Derbyshire
  • Bradbourne
Dorset
  • Langton Herring (D)
Durham
  • Hunstanworth
Essex
  • Strethall
Glamorgan
  • Colwinston
Gloucestershire
  • Coln Rogers
  • Little Sodbury
  • Upper Slaughter (D)
Herefordshire
  • Knill
  • Middleton-on-the-Hill (D)
Hertfordshire
  • Puttenham
Kent
  • Knowlton
Lancashire
  • Arkholme (D)
  • Nether Kellet (D)
Leicestershire
  • Saxby
  • East Norton
  • Stretton en le Field
Lincolnshire
  • Bigby
  • Flixborough (D)
  • High Toynton (D)
  • Minting
Northamptonshire
  • East Carlton
  • Woodend
Northumberland
  • Meldon
Nottinghamshire
  • Cromwell
  • Maplebeck
  • Wigsley
  • Wysall
Pembrokeshire
  • Herbrandston (D)
Rutland
  • Teigh
Shropshire
  • Harley
Somerset
  • Aisholt
  • Chantry
  • Chelwood
  • Holywell Lake
  • Rodney Stoke
  • Shapwick
  • Stocklinch (D)
  • Tellisford
  • Woolley (D)
Staffordshire
  • Butterton
Suffolk
  • Culpho
  • South Elmham St. Michael (D)
Sussex
  • East Wittering
Yorkshire
  • Catwick (D)
  • Cundall
  • Helperthorpe
  • Norton-le-Clay
  • Scruton

In France, where the human cost of war was higher than in Britain, Thierville was remarkable as the only village in all of France with no men lost from World War I, nor any memorials constructed in the subsequent period. Thierville also suffered no losses in the Franco-Prussian War and World War II, France’s other bloody wars of the modern era.

These villages have no war memorial in them. Knowlton, in Kent sent 30% of it population to fight , and they all came back.The bravest village.(http://www.hellfirecorner.co.uk/TV/knowlton.htm)

The 11th 11 @11hrs we shall remember them. 8,528,831 dead from WW1, 20,858,800 from WW2

Version Français…

Thankful Village (village reconnaissant aussi connu comme Blessed Village, village béni) désigne des localités d’Angleterre et du pays de Galles qui n’ont perdu aucun de leurs habitants ayant servi dans les forces armées pendant la Première Guerre mondiale. Le terme de Thankful Village fut popularisé par l’écrivain Arthur Mee dans les années 1930. Dans Enchanted Land (1936), le volume introductif à la série des guides The King’s England, il écrivit qu’un Thankful Village était un village n’ayant perdu aucun homme pendant la Grande Guerre car tous ceux qui étaient partis au combat en étaient revenus. Sa liste initiale identifiait ainsi 32 villages.

En novembre 2010, de nouvelles recherches  identifièrent 52 paroisses civiles en Angleterre et au Pays de Galle n’ayant perdu aucun soldat. Il n’y par contre aucun village ou paroisse en Écosse ou en Irlande-du-Nord n’ayant perdu aucun de ses habitants pendant cette guerre.

14 de ces villages anglais ou gallois sont considérés comme « doubly thankful » car ils n’ont perdu aucun habitant ayant servi dans les forces armées, ni pendant la Première, ni pendant la Seconde Guerre mondiale  Ils sont identifiés par un (D) dans la liste ci-dessous.

En France, où le coût humain de la Première Guerre mondiale fut plus élevé qu’en Grande-Bretagne, Thierville, en Normandie, est le seul village français n’ayant perdu aucun homme pendant la Première Guerre mondiale et donc aucun monument aux morts n’y fut construit après le conflit. Thierville n’a aussi subi aucune perte parmi ses habitants ayant combattu durant la guerre franco-prussienne et la Seconde Guerre mondiale.

Knowlton en Kent a envoyée 30% de son population, tous sont revenu vivant!

le 11 Novembre @ 11 hrs, nous nous rapellons celui qui ont tombée .

Thoughts on the learning process

Thoughts on the learning process

 

A mind isn’t like a cup, waiting to be filled, but rather, a fire waiting to be kindled; We spend too much time passing on information to students and not enough time encouraging them to do research themselves into the topic ; it’s important that students take on the role of learning for themselves because this is where the passion comes for the subject .

Students may well learn the grammar rule by heart or repeat the rule of thermodynamics or what the first ionization energy is, but understanding comes from practice through practical experiments and research deeper into the subject. The search for “why?” Is a way to encourage students.In science , then this is a way to stir imaginations. And in language too. The search for “why” however, is difficult and sometimes the answer is ‘because’ or we really don’t need to know “why”, just that it “does”. Just as when we walk we don’t need to understand friction or gravity or mechanics.

 

Take language. We learn our native language, or at least I did, not by learning what the present simple is or learning the Saxon genitive by heart, but by simple practice. It sounds easy, but in reality it hides hours of reading, writing, listening and speaking, with correction from teachers as well as encouragement and discipline. Simple practice , by its very definition, means finding the time and energy, or being given the time and then getting the encouragement to develop. It is not simple then! It was only when I came to teach English that I brushed up my grammar, and discovered how challenging it really is, with its technical terms and obtuse descriptions. You cannot tell students these technical terms, you need to keep it simple. We spend too much time with students telling them ‘this is the present simple’ when it doesn’t matter, really; they need to use the language and make the mistakes before they understand it. Just as we use a car, but don’t need to know how the engine works, or ride a bike but don’t need to understand gears, or moments, or even gravity. Its only when we want to repair the car or bike that we need to understand it more, as our language.

When we make mistakes in language, then, it shows a desire to improve, to progress, and a need for explanation, to repair our errors.

Students need to be able to use the language almost instinctively, and to do that they need exposure and vocabulary. They need to listen and read, speak and write, and THEN they need correction and control. Students don’t need boring dusty lessons on grammar points in the beginning, rather, they need to be listened to and corrected, to be told that it isn’t “she say” but “she says”. Then we can explain to them WHY its “she says” in the indicative third person, or even better tell them to find it out for themselves. When they ask why, THEN they start to learn. Students and teachers have to WANT to learn and improve .

 

 

What is learning?

 Learning 

  • is a potential change in behavior. This is where we note the opportunities to improve. Learning starts with the acknowledgement by the student of the need to improve or to change. We cannot state that a thing has been learnt until it is reproduced at a later date CONSISTENTLY. Understanding comes when the student looks deeper into what they learnt. When they go beyond.

Performance

  • Translation of this potential into behaviour .A change in HABIT and PROCESS. Performance comes through practice, using the CORRECT knowledge and reproducing the knowledge at a later date in a consistent way.
  • A teacher cannot let a student regress to the comfort of prior habits and errors/mistakes, so they have to reward (and punish) to promote the behavior they desire.

Latent learning

  • A form of learning that is not immediately expressed in an overt response – it occurs without obvious reinforcement
  • Occurs when knowledge has been acquired at a certain date, but is not demonstrated until a later date when knowledge is required.(eg in an exam)

Learning isn’t about knowledge, but behavior.

So a teacher has to decide what is the target behavior and ‘a new comfort zone’

Learning then involves CONDITIONING and that is profound as it seems to suggest that we must brainwash and manipulate, which seems to be counter intuitive to a healthy learning environment.

We can see some schools and companies and organisations that have a culture the newcomer has to accept and learn, and this involves changing and adapting behavior. Darwin’s observations that it is not the fastest or strongest that survive, but the most adaptable ,really become important in learning.

The student who can change and adapt will then, be the most successful and not the most ‘intelligent’ whatever that means.

Humans then will change behavior for rewards,or,change behavior to avoid punishment just as dogs do as Pavlov discovered.

Stimuli need to be used.

Why does a student learn…. Because they accept to change their behavior.

Why does the dog dribble? Because it’s a biological reflex on seeing food. Add a bell, and the dog will dribble when it hears the bell because it associated food with the bell.

So a teacher needs to associate change with reward or punishment.

Behaviors are chosen because of their consequences , as observed by Thorndike. However, personal observations show me several things:

  1. Students are not always aware of the consequences or in denial about this, or refuse the consequences, as they want to avoid the punishment. For behavior to be chosen consequences have to be enforced.
  2. Final consequences are often not seen and a student will test what the envelope is. Habit and ‘it only happens to others and not me’ play a role.
  3. Comfort zones are actively sought as change is challenging and comfort is not.
  4. Errors repeat and students continue with the error when they have been taught the correction when there is no consequence, or the consequence isn’t seen as important, or the student has a habit that they cant break.
  5. Refusal to accept the standard social norms leads to counter cultures and independent thought processes and disintegration.
  6. Teachers are human and make mistakes and students will take the mistake as ‘reality’ and reproduce it in situ or students/teachers think they know/understand but don’t, or there is a change in the knowledge base which the student or teacher are not aware of and the error is handed on.  (A student insisting that the group Pink Floyd was named after Pink Flamingos when in fact it is after the jazz man Floyd Pinkerton, but the student refuses to accept that they are wrong. Here the student refuses the authority and knowledge base of the teacher. They are convinced they are right, as they have heard this information somewhere else, and it is learnt. But you need to explain to them that even you , as the teacher, could be wrong, so the teacher that told them this could be wrong, (or the internet site or whatever the source is of their information)) Not keeping an open mind, or questioning anything, or worshiping knowledge rather than questioning it are dangerous things in education.

EG Marram Grass use in sand dunes. (Before it was seen as good, today not so much)

7 Adaptation to punishment can happen. Punishment needs to be swift, fair and proportional as well as consistent.  So 1 conduct mark for no homework for Jimmy means one conduct mark for no homework for Sally and 5 conduct marks means a detention and no arguments. Administrating the punishment needs a well developed system.

Failure in schools and university or in jobs and careers, or in learning, means several things. Perhaps the child is outside the spectrum of ‘normal’(whatever that means) and has special educational needs. Certainly Asperger’s syndrome children could fall into this category. But failure in education is often a way for the child to succeed with his peer group. Moving class for a child or changing peer group should be explored, involving parents or colleague.

Most (in my experience ALL)children and adults want to do a good job, and perhaps even think they do, and need to be shown that , in fact, they could improve; however, we could all improve and it is often a question of how can I improve. What next? Showing children or adults  a benchmark and how to get there is one solution, but they need to see for themselves too. (When you do a bad job, this is what happens. A recent visit to a prison made me realize that if we don’t succeed, then the result is this)

 

The student who seeks punishment as a way of having kudos from his peers needs special treatment and effective punishment. Often pupils and students who are boys will brag about how many conduct marks they’ve had this week, as it’s a way to excel in something, and excelling is good, isn’t it? This kind of behavior needs special treatment and consequences and a need to make the punishment personal but not humiliating. Often I’ve found that sit down discussions work better than shouting or rambling ranting. Positive reinforcement needs to take place for these students.

 

Students need to know what the consequences are and to feel them for themselves so that they can change their behavior to learn effectively.

 

Just an end point, I’m not saying that subject knowledge isn’t important, indeed, I think that a teacher needs to have a sound grasp of the ideas they are trying to get across, to have the authority needed to convince they student that they do indeed know what they are talking about, and to encourage the learner to LOOK FOR THEMSELVES but they also need to encourage the student to think for themselves and not to take the road of ‘don’t question my knowledge or experience’ ,as a good student should do exactly that.

Water wall

The Waterwall

Revelations 8:8

7The first sounded, and there came hail and fire, mixed with blood, and they were thrown to the earth; and a third of the earth was burned up, and a third of the trees were burned up, and all the green grass was burned up. 8The second angel sounded, and something like a great mountain burning with fire was thrown into the sea; and a third of the sea became blood,9and a third of the creatures which were in the sea and had life, died; and a third of the ships were destroyed.…

The first angel was a comet, hitting the earth; the second was Cumbre Vieja , when a huge chunk of the island slid into the sea

The canary islands had produced slumps before, At least 14 large landslides have occurred on the flanks of the El Hierro, La Palma and Tenerife, the majority of these in the last 1 million years, with the youngest, on the northwest flank of El Hierro, as recent as 15 thousand years in  age. (source http://www.earth.ox.ac.uk/~tony/watts/downloads/Masson_Gee_Landslides.pdf)

The debris of these incidents covers several square kilometers of ocean floor, and these slumps could produce mega tsunamis with wave heights of around 40 or even more meters.

Gravel deposits and boulder deposits document there occurrence, and these are found up to 80kms inland on occasion.

The slump.

The wave came, out of the night, enveloping all around it. The whole column of water moved, ripping coral and sediments from the ocean floor. The tide emptied in the harbor, leaving the ships gasping and floundering, like fish at high tide, guttering and rolling. Long forgotten wrecks were uncovered, and the tide disappeared. The wall of water covered the whole of the Atlantic coast, from Alaska to Brazil on one side and from the UK to Africa. The costal population of America had 8 hours of warning to move, and the panic and looting had been going on for a while since the announcement of the volcano sliding into the ocean. A 300 foot wall of water had hit the African coast, less than an hour after, flooding the Saharan coast. They’d only had 1 hour since the slump. The wave hit the Mauritanian coast, sweeping all before it.

The coastal forests were wiped out, and parts of Northern Africa became an inland sea, opening the pathway the Nile took millions of years ago when the Sahara was green.

The wave hit America and didn’t stop till the Appalachians, wiping all before it. The whole of the American Atlantic coast was hit by wall of water.

Water has a mass of 1 Kilo per liter. We’ve all lugged a pack of water bottles home from the supermarket, moaning about their weight. Think how much a wall of water, thousands of kilometers long, and tens of kilometers high would weigh. And if it was travelling at 300 kms an hour? and ten waves came, and then went, dragging debris and destroying everything before it.

There was nothing that withstood the wall of water. Buildings, infrastructure, pipelines, train tracks, highways and houses were rubbed off the map. The coast of the United States of America is dotted with a dozen nuclear power stations, each one a Fukishuma or Chernobyl in waiting. They all melted down when the wave hit. The whole Atlantic coast of the USA was a no-go area, together with the Atlantic coast of Canada, which had half a dozen or so nuclear reactors.

The whole of Florida was buried under water, and the Caribbean was washed over. 40 meter waves washed over. Further south, in Brazil, the Angra Nuclear power plant, just in service was also hit by 40 meter waves. In Mexico too, nuclear plants were washed away. Nuclear radiation poured into the Atlantic from the American coast. The African coast has one nuclear power station, the Koeburg Power Station, in South Africa, also wiped out by waves tens of meters high. In France, and Northern Spain, and Southern Britain, nuclear power plants located on the coast all melted down. Nearly twenty nuclear power plants were wiped out, pouring radiation into the environment, with no way of stopping it.

 

The survivors were few and far between. On the coast, only a handful of survivors were to be found, widely spread out. People got hold of guns and then took the law into their own hands. The economic collapse of the USA was inevitable.

People had to drink bottled water, or rainwater, avoiding radioactive areas and the fallout from them. Food had to be found, and medicines too.

40 million people died, and 30 million were injured. The dollar collapsed, and China became the de facto world power. Oil was no longer traded in Dollars, but Euros, then Yuan. The demand for oil dropped, as huge numbers of people had died. Diseases became killers, cholera and diphtheria, typhoid all became widespread in and out of the disaster zone.

The Chinese army, all two million men, marched out, taking India as its food basket, and not stopping until Japan and Indonesia were part of its Empire. The war lasted less than 5 years, and after, China was the major world power. Europe paid tribute and Russia too, keeping their humble rank and decadence for a decade longer before China invaded anyway. China brought infrastructure to India.

 

What was the USA became a no go area. Gangs broke areas into territories, and law and order were from the end of a gun, or the end or a rope. As money meant nothing anymore, gang leaders were violent men, who ruled until they in turn were violently overthrown. Land became the new currency; with gangs forming to keep out marauders and inter gang warfare was commonplace. Weapons had been widely available in the USA before the wave hit, after there was no control at all, and when the United Nations sent a peace keeping mission to what was New York, the local population assumed that America was being invaded and attacked them. The UN withdrew its forces and informed the interim US government that they could and would do no more. Finally, Nuclear weapons were found by gangs, and then things got really bad. The official administration threatened martial law and tried to control the western part of the country. The administration sent soldiers and equipment into the wild zones, hoping to establish, or rather reestablish law and order. But many soldiers were scared of the radiation, and defected or mutinied, joining gangs and leaving those who didn’t rather disadvantaged. Other troop units were decimated, destroyed, or trapped, or fooled into entering highly radioactive zones. But a gang from the southern states of the USA aimed a nuclear bomb at Yellowstone National Park, and the resultant super eruption wiped the rest of America off the map. Forever.

Hundreds of millions died. The gang with the nuclear weapons declared that they were de facto ruler of ‘New America’ and organized the country into a dictatorship, where white power ruled. The Nazi horrors of World War Two were repeated; this time nothing and no one could stop it. Life was brutal, short and violent, with rape commonplace, and crimes against humanity the norm. Civilization and culture had broken down, and this New America created no art, unless violence is an art. And knowledge was lost, as before the disaster few had the knowledge of dealing with radiation, fewer still how to stop it. These engineers were gone.

Even China didn’t go into America. The nuclear zones were everywhere, and the super eruption meant global weather changes and crop shortages for years after. Sunlight levels dropped as a giant cloud of aerosols propagated worldwide; people starved, crops failed, water was poisoned. America lived a ‘wild east’ where gunmen and gangs roamed what was left of the streets, a nightmare vision to behold.

Before the water wall, the world population was over 7 billion, and after the super eruption and water wall, the population was less than a billion. Most of the southern hemisphere was still livable, so populations migrated south, heading to South America and Australasia.

In America, only the survivalists of the most crazily well prepared nature survived. Bunkers, stocked with water and food for 2 years which were also radiation proof were few and far between. The radiation leaks from the power plants lasted for years, as no one was going to plug them up, and anyway, they were under meters of ash from the volcanic eruption. So they would merrily keep on producing nuclear radiation for up to 20 000 years. And crazy survivors aren’t the best people to run a country.

China now ruled Australia and New Zealand, as most of the world fell under Chinese control. China had colonized Africa for its resources and had invaded the Middle Eastern states in its quest for oil and finally solar power, as nuclear power had been abandoned. Population loss was so great that Chinese grabbed the opportunity to have more than one child, which was permitted outside of mainland China. So the Chinese filled their colonies with Chinese immigrants, who got the top jobs, and then they produced more Chinese children to such an extent that the native population was outstripped by Chinese. Thus they ensured that the native population would always be enslaved to the Chinese Empire. The Chinese were following a path of ethnic cleansing. The colour of the world changed, and human population and culture shifted.

 

America, meanwhile, went from bad to worse. Runaway crime and social decline meant a country where anarchy ruled. The law was swift and brutal, with violence and bloodshed ruling. Civil society disappeared, with no law. Dogs and gunslingers ruled the streets. Forgotten and backward, the once great nation was now just a junkyard of forgotten dreams, with poverty roaming the streets, or death. Radiation had caused many animals and plants to mutate, causing deaths.

The weight of the water on the land was such that it had caused faults to open and earthquakes to happen. More volcanoes came to life, along the west coast of ‘New America’ and the Andes of America. Drug gangs from the south of Mexico and Latin America took over, and corruption and greed were commonplace.

A mountain fell into the sea, and the world changed.

Horror story for Hallowe’en

It was a still, short, hard knock night, when the bells of the church, the old church in my village started to ring out.They were chiming, through the cloudless sky, through the star filled night, through the crisp coldness in the air.They woke me from my slumber.

I opened the window, and breathed in the cool autumnal air.The moon was in its last quarter, in the sky, and I stumbled to the bathroom.

After relief came thought. Auto pilot off. Why were those bells still ringing? I wandered downstairs, into the kitchen. I glanced at the clock, and thought about changing the battery. It had been stuck on a quarter to six for three weeks now. I turned on the TV, to the British news channel. They said it was 05.24, so take an hour off for French time and its 06.24. Still the bells were ringing! Why ?

I’d been in the fog of wake for a dozen or so minutes, those bells were still ringing. Curiosity got the better of me , and I got dressed in yesterday’s clothes and tied my laces. I hadn’t shaved or showered, so I looked scruffy. It was late October, and the daylight hadn’t really started to filter through . I slipped on a jacket, and headed out the door. I headed out to the village.

I didn’t get too far before I met Claude. He was the neighbor. I blurted out a greeting, and asked what was going on.

Claude shrugged. He’d been woken too, obviously. Together we walked up the main street. “The bells woke me” he complained.

Claude looked at me as if that was so evidently the case, as if he was stating the obvious, but the situation was so strange it needed saying, as if we were in a dream.

Claude lit his pipe.The rest of the walk to the church was conducted in silent billows of Claude’s powerful tobacco. The bells were still ringing when we got to the church, even though the church clock usually only chimed on the hour and its quarters, ringing out a chime for each hour. On the quarters and on the half it would ring once, and the hour it would ring once for each hour, so 4 times meant four o’clock.

I wondered how long the bells had been ringing. By now, most of the village had been woken up by the church bells. The village seemed to conglomerate around the church, petering out into the Loire Valley countryside

The church door was open, and there were a few other villagers standing , wide-eyed, by the church porch. I saw our friend, Pascal, he was staggering back from the phone booth in the village square. “The police are coming” he said. “Make sure everyone stays out of the church’.

Now I started to really come to my senses. What would require the presence of the police? I thought. Claude grabbed my shoulder and looked me in the eyes, and then nodded towards the church , afraid. We both turned our heads towards the church doorway, and I felt a shiver down my spine, and goosebumps , something scary was silhouetted through the doorway, we very quickly saw the scene. It burned onto our eyelids, and the smell of death hung in the air. A body hung on the bell ropes, counter balanced by a pew. That was the village priest, ringing out death on this Hallowe’en night