Thursday, October 4, 2018

"Dragged by the force of some inner tide"

I have today agreed to the final terms of a contract to purchase a "new" (12-year-old) boat. I thought I had this out of my system, but a clue as to why we are purchasing another boat at this stage in my life can be found in the boat name we have selected. She will be called “Division Belle”. Obscure? Yes, but perhaps I can explain.

         A division bell is rung in and around British Parliament to summon members when there is a “division”, a parliamentary term explained by Wikipedia as follows:
In parliamentary procedure, a division of the assemblydivision of the house, or simply division is a method for taking a better estimate of a vote than a voice vote. Typically, a division is taken when the result of a voice vote is challenged or when a two-thirds vote is required.  
Historically, and often still today, members are literally divided into physically separate groups. This was the method used in the Roman Senate, and occasionally in Athenian democracy. Westminster system parliament chambers have separate division lobbies for the "Ayes" and "Noes" to facilitate physical division. In several assemblies, a division bell is rung throughout the building when a division is happening, in order to alert members not present in the chamber.

The term "division bell" has taken on a much broader meaning, and has been used in poetry and literature to symbolize any separation or division of people into groups. “Division Bell” also became the title of Pink Floyd’s fourteenth studio album, released in 1994. The album initially received mixed reviews, but it quickly became number one on both sides of the Atlantic and went "triple platinum", selling more than three million copies (back when musicians could actually sell their music). Among many die-hard Pink Floyd fans like myself, it is a classic. The album deals mostly with themes of communication resolving difficult problems. One overly-enthusiastic radio host said that it presented “the very real possibility of transcending it all, through shivering moments of grace”. Pink Floyd’s drummer Nick Mason said of the title: "It does have some meaning. It's about people making choices, yeas or nays.”

The only song on the album that uses the term “division bell” is the final track, entitled “High Hopes”, which contains the phrase "The ringing of the Division Bell had begun". Buying another boat and setting out again at my age is explained in the following lines of the song:

Encumbered forever by desire and ambition
There's a hunger still unsatisfied
Our weary eyes still stray to the horizon
Though down this road we've been so many times

As we discussed boat names, the lovely Laura Lee, being a southern belle herself, suggested we should perhaps call her “Division Belle”, with an "e" added to the end, because boats are always feminine. The name was used for a blimp (or airship) purchased by Pink Floyd as a promotional stunt for the band’s Division Bell tour. In searching around, I have found it also used for a Thoroughbred race horse (whose dam was named Multiplication), a book, a racing sailboat in England, a type of daffodil sold in New Zealand, and as a nickname for a female mathematician. So "Division Belle" is not as original as we first thought. On the other hand, several names that we discussed are in use by literally hundreds of documented boats in the United States. We prefer not to be totally unoriginal. There are no other U.S. documented boats at present named “Division Belle”.

So we went with it. I expect it will start conversations along the way, and I like the ring of it. The complete lyrics to “High Hopes” follow, and I hope you will click here to see David Gilmour in an incredible performance of the song in 2016, in the Pompeii amphitheater in Italy. Gilmour's 2016 concert was the first public performance in the arena since it was buried by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD. 

“High Hopes”

Beyond the horizon of the place we lived when we were young
In a world of magnets and miracles
Our thoughts strayed constantly and without boundary
The ringing of the division bell had begun

Along the long road and on down the causeway
Do they still meet there by the Cut

There was a ragged band that followed in our footsteps
Running before time took our dreams away
Leaving the myriad small creatures trying to tie us to the ground
To a life consumed by slow decay

The grass was greener
The light was brighter
With friends surrounded
The nights of wonder

Looking beyond the embers of bridges glowing behind us
To a glimpse of how green it was on the other side
Steps taken forwards but sleepwalking back again
Dragged by the force of some inner tide

At a higher altitude with flag unfurled
We reached the dizzy heights of that dreamed of world

Encumbered forever by desire and ambition
There's a hunger still unsatisfied
Our weary eyes still stray to the horizon
Though down this road we've been so many times

The grass was greener
The light was brighter
The taste was sweeter
The nights of wonder
With friends surrounded
The dawn mist glowing
The water flowing
The endless river
Forever and ever

Songwriters: Polly Annie Samson / David Jon Gilmour / Polly Anne Samson 
          High Hopes lyrics © Barton Music Corporation

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Love these blogs Jihn and Love the narrative of DIvision Belle...I'm subbing your daily blog and emiminating a few that aren't as well written...I Hope you have "High tides,and Green Grass" in your future...rc