The kitchen clock says 8:11. Leaving my breakfast tray, I go and stand at the back door, a school bell in my hand. Ring bells, they have said, church bells, handbells, doorbells, bicycle bells, any bells as loudly as you can for three minutes.
The air is cool, for a change, the grey railings cold to the touch. From this breeze-prone top step I can view sights not visible from the lawn, hemmed in as it is by the damsons and the brambles. From here I can look across the neighbours' gardens; the lawns, the furniture, the shed, the two pines that rear darkly, standing out amid the bright deciduous verdure. To the opposite side, because the sun is hidden behind clouds, I can see the back wall of the flats, that rises above the greenery, and four houses. No-one stares back at me.
In a minute,St Matthew's is going to peal forth. The church in our road may toll its one bell, that announces eight-o'clock Mass each Sunday. When I hear those, I shall join in with my handbell. Maybe other peals will be sounding in our town and its suburbs, from Holy Trinity, St Giles, St Peter and St Paul. To say nothing of other individuals like myself. What a tintinnabulation there will be!
Time passes. Is my clock fast? I strain my ears but I hear no bells. A refrigerator hums, then falls silent. Different from an hour ago, with car engines and slamming of doors out at the front of the house. It is almost as though that had never been. Out here the day is new, the air soft, clean, fresh. Only a few unseen rooks cawing, a collared dove making a strange half-scream as it flies to one of the tall pines.
Dare I - should I - break this peace? The silence of the house, with my husband still in bed? The silence outside? I cannot, I must not. Not even for the sake of the once-in-a-lifetime London Olympic Games.
The wind could be in the wrong direction to carry the sound of St Matthew's bells to me. Or they cancelled the ring because some ringers failed to turn up, possibly? Perhaps the whole thing has been called off. I haven't had the radio on so I wouldn't know. Or maybe, at 8.15 on Friday 27 July, the world has ended and only this little patch is left - just a few gardens, a few streets and a close and a jetty, drowned in Summer green leaves.