“There was I, waiting at the church…” (old English music-hall song): 14Nov2015

Wedding Bells Miami Style*
We have been trapped in this tower for what seems like centuries. The weather is abominable, lashing rain and wind. It is the end of the world. One of our number (Jody) didn’t make it. Another (Anne) is already sick and has a cough like the bark of the Hound of the Baskervilles but has braved the elements. Will the rest of us survive? Will we have to eat the child (Liam)? Who will save us? In this raging wind who will hear our cries (let alone the bells)? Perhaps we should have brought a lamp (one if by land, two if by sea). Hope is fading.

The church is dark. One of our number (Marguerite) intrepidly ventures out to negotiate with a representative from the Other Side (Alex). The bride is late, has not yet left her home. Goodwill towards her is fading. The waters rise, the car park and paths are flooded inches deep. Anne is wearing sandals and, wading in towards the tower, has caught several crabs and a toad in the straps. There are rumours of sharks. One of our number (Pamela) wishes she had brought her boat: we could have escaped from the second-floor window. Hysteria begins to nibble at the edges of our intrepid band. It is the only nibble available. We begin to eye Liam again.

Time passes. No news. The heavens vent their wrath. One of our number (Barbara) tells of her planned escape to Italy. We would all rather be elsewhere. Almost anywhere. One of our number (Judy) is long due at another celebration. The birthday ritual is about to begin without her; the potatoes are already in the pan (yes, potatoes, but who knows — they might have been planning to eat something else as well).

In this tempest, how will we see the agreed signal from the front of the church and who of the Other Side will venture out in the elements to give it and thus perhaps be swept away into the raging torrents? Will Alex dare to wave when the US Coastguard might think she is drowning and pitch up to rescue her?; then again, out there, she might well be drowning. Marguerite has agreed a different form of signal: Alex will text “now” to her portable communications device… but when?

Time passes. The situation grows more grave: water comes from above as well as below, as it pours down the ropes of the seven, six and either the treble or five — after the trauma, I am no longer sure which. Mindful that the bells are up, we prepare for a deluge on our innocent heads when we pull off. We prepare to shriek. Marg stoically closes the louvres. Now our message cannot reach the outside world. We despair, but endure.

H-hour+40: a white conveyance appears outside the church. The bride has arrived…. and proceeds to remain seated in the car for a further 10mins at least. Bravely, we keep on trying to wish her well. But it’s getting harder. She disappears into church. The tempest is such that we cannot see her or what she is wearing, but we hope she has her wellie boots on as well as serviceable underwear. Time passes. The rites have not begun. Finally, as those of us with Celtic blood threaten to storm the church, Marg texts Alex: “What the….?” Alex: “they’re on their vows.” Hope. Can we hang on? At AT LEAST H-hour+1.10, the message comes through — “Now!” We leap to our ropes and ring as best we can for 15mins. Exhausted, we do not attempt to fire the bells (there’s been too much of that already). We ring down, mindful that if we leave them up for Sunday service on the morrow, we may get another unwelcome baptism. We are exhausted, but battle the floods to escape the tower. The bride has not exited the church. The louvres were closed.
— A survivor

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