Bells

Nothing winds up Liz as much as bells on Sundays.

We live in the shadow of a baroque church in the village of Siggiewi. It is a splendid piece of architecture. On summer nights, the floodlit dome nestles above the furthermost corner of the garden, framed by the olive tree and the conifers. In June during the feast of St Nicholas, it is a candy box of yellow and orange. The church is the apex of the village, the reason for traffic jams on evenings and Sunday, the conch for all Christians.

And that is where the problem lies. Liz believes that Catholicism has turned the Maltese into an insular race that only cares for its own small circle, rather than the greater whole. It is why housewives throw buckets of water in front of their doorstep, knowing full well that this will only wash the rubbish down to their neighbours’ doorsteps. Why what’s left of valleys and beauty spots are full of discarded fridges and other white goods. Or grown men go and shoot on migrating birds. Liz has never been to the church of St Nicholas, although it is literally on her door-step.

On Sundays, the anti-Catholic sentiment explodes with the activities in the bell-fry. Today’s 24 x 7 session was managed by an energetic roster that kicked in at 5am and never quite let go. All the way up to Jacob’s bed time, the bells hammered their voice into our head.

Liz called Joyce and asked if there was any reason for the cacophony. Joyce said that it was the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary.

Liz delivered a monologue about Our Lady’s various personality disorders, such that every other weekend she was reincarnated in some particular aspect – my favourite is Our Lady of Sorrows.

Today was Liz’s 41st birthday.

Liz would like the bells to go away.

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