Stranger #30: John

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In 1947, then 22 years old, John (now 88) began ringing the bells in St Mary’s Cathedral in Sydney. John continued ringing when he moved to Adelaide in 1993 after he retired from his position as Archdiocesan Archivist in Sydney.

John claims that bell ringing helped develop his confidence: he went from being very introverted to someone who was more able to interact easily with people and stand up for himself.

Bell ringing was never John’s full time job; rather it was a hobby which saw him ring bells around the country, including at St Paul’s in Melbourne. Bells were rung for weddings, funerals, special occasions, civic celebrations as well as on Sundays to call the faithful to worship. There was also plenty of bell-ringing practise, usually a few nights each week.

In 1999, not long after John moved to Murwillumbah in northern NSW, he put an ad in the paper seeking scrabble partners. He’s a gentle and kind scrabble partner, keen to teach those new to the game the intricacies that might not, at first glance, be apparent.

John also loves teaching others to ring bells … and would like to ring handbells, but ‘not to ring* tunes.’

“No disrespect for those who do ring tunes though!”

* After reading this, John contacted me to correct one point. I had originally written ‘play tunes’ when the correct term is ‘ring’.

Something else I learnt from John is that ‘change ringers’ are otherwise known as ‘campanologists’.

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