Christmas: There Rang a Bell

Some While Ago

Rutherglen Town Hall (Lanarkshire) was first built in 1862 and after falling into disrepair was reopened in 2005 following a £12.5 million refurbishment. For some it may be a familiar landmark and for the Richardson family, whose son James is commemorated on the nearby Rutherglen War Memorial, the town hall was a landmark seen and heard each day.

It is this familiarity of being seen and heard that draws me in this day as Christmas approaches. Christmas, methinks, is about people, place and family, goodwill and cheer, song, food and so too many other joys. Yet this year it is the steady and heralding sound of bells that I am drawn to this day, while I seek something slightly different.

Some while ago, David Francey, a Scottish-born Canadian singer-songwriter came to play on Vancouver Island. I saw him twice on his western tour and while listening to Saints and Sinners, a song about bells and Ayr’s Cliff, Quebec I reflected upon the lyrics and his town and how the familiar anchors us to time, place, and memory.

There is something in these words…these lyrics about bells and of a war on the left and the right.  Perhaps it is the mention of Bethlehem that intrigues me at this time of year, the bright star of the night sky that brought forward the magi…and so with the Christmas season upon us I reflect upon the bells, the familiar, their sound and record of personal events, visits to churches and cathedrals, towns and villages on my adventures in many different places, Christmases elsewhere, friends and family, events of joy and so too of sorrow.

“At one time most of my friends could hear the bell, but as years passed it fell silent for all of them. Even Sarah found one Christmas that she could no longer hear its sweet sound. Though I’ve grown old the bell still rings for me, as it does for all who truly believe.”

Chris Van Allsburg, The Polar Express, 1985


About The Author

pferguson
In April 2007 Paul met Casey and Ian Williams of the Paradigm Motion Picture Company in Ieper (Ypres), Belgium when ceremonies were being held for the re-dedication of the Vimy Memorial, France. Paul has worked with Paradigm since 2009 as Producer and Historian. Paul's sensitivity to film was developed at an early age seeing his first films at RCAF Zweibrucken, Germany and Sardinia. Paul returned to Canada in 1967 and was amazed by films such as David Lean's "Lawrence of Arabia" and "Bridge on the River Kwai". Film captivated Paul and he became increasingly interested in storytelling, content development, character, direction, cinematography and soundtracks. At the University of Victoria, Paul studied and compared Japanese and Australian film and he became interested in Australian film maker Peter Weir and his film "Gallipoli" (1981). Paul was entranced when he discovered Weir had visited the beaches, ridges and ravines of the peninsula. The film "Gallipoli" alone led Paul on his many journeys to sites of conflict in England, France, Belgium, Holland, Germany, Malta, Hawaii and Gallipoli. It was, however, when Paul watched documentary filmmaker Ken Burns, "The Civil War", that Paul understood how his experience and insight could be effective and perhaps influential in film-making. Combining his knowledge of Museums and Archives, exhibitions and idea strategies with his film interests would be a natural progression. Paul thinks like a film-maker. His passion for history and storytelling brings to Paradigm an eye (and ear) to the keen and sensitive interests of; content development, the understanding of the successful and relational use of collections, imagery and voice. Like Paul's favorite actor, Peter O'Toole, he believes in the adage “To deepen not broaden.” While on this path Paul always remembers his grandmother whose father did not return from the Great War and how his loss shaped her life and how her experience continues to guide him.

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