The Warning Bell

The Clocktower Bellringer Automatons - Father and Son
The Clocktower Bellringer Automatons – Father and Son

“Get the email Jack ?”

“Yeah, got it” Jack said, continuing with his work

“You know John was copied” said Fred

“Didn’t really check, so were about 50 others I guess, but thanks for letting me know” said Fred

“Listen son, its not just father and son these days, you know… there’s a global interest in all things to all men” said Fred, Jack’s dad. “Politics and stuff, more people are interested, not only in how you ring the bell, but when and why and why continue for example.”

“Look Dad !, we’ve been standing up here, rain, hail, salt shine, flooding in the square below since the time of the Doge’s. Ring this bell here, on time I might add, one then the other, striking the hour morning noon and night.”

“Don’t forget the summary strike at noon and midnight though.  I have absolutely no idea why they want the summary strike.” said his dad.

“That’s what the email was about. Didn’t you read it ?”

“Yes I know. people don’t want the summary strike anymore, but I can’t argue the case, because I don’t know the original reason for doing it in the first place.” said his dad.

“There is no reason, other than to say it’s unique.  No other clocktower around does this summary thing. People like unique and innovative like that.”, said the son.

“Yes, but all those people copied, they might agree with the idea to stop it.  Make it like normal. Like other clocktowers”, said his dad.

“Just reply all, you know.. saying….something like… ‘The summary strike captures the imagination to begin counting the arithmetic sum and most people lose count, but those that didn’t lose count stopped and waited down there in the square and for just a few moments were lost in the reverie of counting and for a moment all conversation ceases and its only the peace and quite with the bell ringing’.  Throw some art into it.  That’s why people come here in the first place.” said the son

“OK.. but just remember I’m the guy striking the warning bell.”

“I never forget it”, said the son.

TL2 – Dayze Later – Roma – Montpellier – Nice

Last you all heard was the beginnings of the description of the harrowing Heathrow event, whereby weary traveler with too many clothes on navigates the reverse path from the bus to terminal 5 back to the parked plane where my passport hopefully was located.  What should’ve taken 25 mins took another 3 hours, but never mind.. to be continued when I have more time.  Suffice to say, going forward in the airport maze is far easier than going backward.  Re-tracing steps with a ball of string or breadcrumbs might have helped, but still i am unsure of this part.

I did actually make my plane to Fiumicino airport, Rome and settled down for a week of conference there with an audience of about 1000 of my international colleagues.  Here are views of the local scenery about 20 mins east of Fiumicino.

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But of course it’s the streets of Rome that beckon out of the hotel and down to the city.  Get lost in the via. s. dorotea… its a small street of course on the other side of the river, but a place to sit down in a small local space with local band and music.

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Outside of course it was cooling down rapidly and we were distracted by low flying helicopter and even lower flying drones, warded off by the Polizia cars and tape barriers, protecting their pubic and the filmmakers for a Roman James Bond film.

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Some days later I found a nice restaurant down at the end of the Corso and hang a right at the Piazza di Spagna, with this beautiful nameplate in the wall.

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I think I had a drink there, but cannot be certain, certainly dropped in with my friends to someplace near there anyway.

I had planned to spend more time in the city, however duty calls, and Saturday was spent working in the hotel room and lobby bar.  Sunday flew from Fiumicino out to Montpellier, France. Avis pickup in the misty rain, and fun with Nellie at the desk who laughed everytime I tried to say something in French, and set the navigator to French as well.  Didn’t get lost too many times and my french vocab of road rules and instructions has improved dramatically without further road incident.  Drove around 3 hours out to Nice where more meetings will be held for the first few days this week.

TL1 – Day 10 – Before Stepping off the plane….

There he was standing their impatiently near his girlfriend, crushed into a forward seat that wasn’t his by the passing passengers.  So easy to leave, so hard to go back.

‘I know, I know, Now we’ll have to wait till they all get off.’ he said.

‘I guess you left it behind, getting my bag down’, she said

I knew exactly what he was hanging back for.  It had to be his, that black vinyl jacket lying on seat 24c, down the back of the plane routing from London to Rome.  We’d just had a rough landing at Fumicino with perhaps some cross wind.  People get stressed getting out of planes and forget stuff.  I remember looking at the jacket and asking a passenger, last one to leave row 24 ‘Is that your’s’.  ‘No it’s not mine!’ she said.  Interesting short comment I thought.

So I passed the guy thinking, ‘thank God you remembered mate’, or was it his girlfriend who reminded him.  Certainly having someone with you helps when you’re packing up coats, phones, ipads, laptops, books and other paraphernalia in a hurry, whil lugging down bags from the overhead bins.  Easy to do… leave something behind.  Wish I had myself, remembered….

Much earlier that same day, I’d been on a different plane, different airline, different row, same coat, phone, jacket, bags etc. Our transatlantic flight landed in Heathrow a bit early with tons of time before having to cross over to Terminal 5.  The plane to Rome was due to leave just before 1pm that day, therefore several hours available.

The stress of Heathrow is manifest, both in passengers and ground staff of all varieties.  The uniform and walkie talkie, the nicely colour coded uniforms, the conveyor belts underground and the seemingly endless maze of escalators, stairs, lifts and corridors.  There’s probably a good reason why there are multi-faith prayer rooms, but I’ve not often been inside and did sometimes wonder from time to time whether anyone actually visited them.  I’m sure eventually though, perhaps Yoga room might be added to de-stress at times of high stress at large international airports.

You know before getting off a plane at Heathrow that there will be queues to get off, get on, get through security, catch a bus, as you travel from Terminal to Terminal.  To help with all that – the signs are colored Purple.  ‘Flight Connections’ in purple all over the place.  Yellow signs for ‘Gates’ etc.

You kind of know before catching that bus to T5 that its a long way off. ‘Better check I have everything’. Coat check, Bag Check, Phone – …… Check, Oh.. they need to see my boarding pass here, to catch the bus, .. bad check.  Boarding pass and passport not found.  Stress alarm.

After check and re-check of numerous pockets and places you haven’t put a passport in for many years, comes a realization that – It has to be on the plane. – the international flight I just left.

Some airports are super easy to backtrack.  Not Heathrow.

which terminal did i land at ?  Which Gate ? … I’ve walked half an hour already through the purple haze of flight connections.  I have to get back there.  I started back up the stairs with my bags where the only escalators were coming downward and now the clock WAS ticking.

To be continued….