March 29, 2007

Progress report

It’s been a while since I have posted here, but a few things have been happening.

I have continued to try and practise Cambridge Major; I occupied a flight to New York by learning the blue line for Double Norwich and I have occasionally had an opportunity to try and ring it — ‘first, treble bob, last, near, full, far’, the aide memoire for Double Norwich, has become firmly planted in my head.

More recently I have begun to call touches of methods other than Bob Doubles. I can call simple touches of Bob Minor, and this has become something we try to ring on a Sunday morning, since we usually have six ringers available. This touch leaves one bell unaffected, a bob being called whenever the observation bell is dodging 5-6 up or 5-6 down. This can be yourself, but it is more useful to have a less-experienced ringer unaffected by the bobs, which means that calling the touch is slightly more complicated.

I am also making progress at working out what other bells should be doing in Plain Bob Minor, and attempting to put them right. On a really good day and at the right moment, I can just about tell where two other bells should be!

In the last couple of weeks at practice I have started to call touches of Grandsire Triples. The particular touch is really quite simple — ‘in and out at one, three times’ rung from the 7. This means that you have to call bobs so that you make thirds and go into the hunt, and then call another bob at the next lead so that you come out of the hunt after just one lead; and repeat this three times, which brings the bells back into a plain course. Unlike in Plain Bob, bobs in Grandsire are called at handstroke, and in this touch that means at the handstroke of second place after leading — at which you make thirds and go into the hunt — and then at the handstroke of fifth place on the way down from the back (but really just before your own pull, because it should be timed with the pull of the bell that is in the lead) – at which you double-dodge 4-5 down to come out of the hunt. After coming out of the hunt you next dodge 6-7 down, then 6-7 up, and then next time call a bob to make thirds.

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June 6, 2006

ringing in Philadelphia

A couple of weeks ago I spent some time in the USA. I had to be in Pennsylvania for a few days and took the opportunity to do a couple of other things too. One of them was to visit St Mark’s Church in Philadelphia. We stayed overnight a few miles outside the city and drove in on Sunday morning, finding a parking place just around the corner from the church (which is in Locust Street) — coincidentally right outside the Warwick Hotel where I had stayed on my only previous visit to Philadelphia in Summer 1976.

After the Sunday morning service (very high-church Anglican, with excellent choral music) I was able to join in ringing the bells — St Mark’s is one of only 43 active towers in North America. It was a pleasure to ring these bells, and to enjoy the hospitality of the Philadelphia ringers. Although several of their more experienced ringers were away we were able ring some call changes, as well as touches of bob doubles. The only tricky moment was when I pulled at handstroke and nothing happened, and then the rope ballooned and shot up — the rope had slipped off the wheel. Fortunately I was able to control the rope, which slipped back onto the wheel, and bring the bell back up and under control. The touch of course was lost.

A nice set of bells — but I’m glad that I don’t have to ring in that heat every week!

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August 16, 2004

The Nine Tailors

Cover of Folio Society edition of The Nine Tailors One of the things that long ago sparked an interest in bellringing (for we had no bells at the church I worshipped at as a child) was Dorothy L Sayers The Nine Tailors, which I saw in the BBC tv adaptation, featuring Ian Carmichael, in the mid 1970s.

It was many years, though, before I read the book, in the lovely Folio Society edition (pictured right), but now I belong to a reading group, which is currently looking at this book. Although I have read it a couple of times before, this is the first time I have read it since I learned to ring, and I have been writing posts explaining about bellringing. For probably all non-bellringing readers of The Nine Tailors, the details of the ringing included in the book are pretty opaque — they add lots of colour, but are largely incomprehensible. And the chapter titles all involve puns on ringing expressions and the like, and these puns are missed without some knowledge of ringing.

Since I have lived for many years on the edge of the fenland area where the book is set I have a second interest and specialist subject area as well, and on Saturday I got out the car and drove around some of the area, concentrating on the start and end of the Old Bedford and New Bedford Rivers, between Earith and Denver, taking lots of pictures. I shall have to plan another excursion in order to get some angel roof churches (March and Upwell, especially) and some pictures of fenland roads and other general scenery.

Perhaps I should turn the bellringing notes and the fenland pictures into a website about The Nine Tailors. Meanwhile, I have uploaded the pictures here.

Posted by Simon Kershaw at 10:27 AM | Comments (1)

November 10, 2003

bobbing along

After a few more weeks practising ringing the no 2 bell at Bob Doubles, I have for the last couple of Mondays been trying to ring a different bell. Tonight I was ringing the number 5 bell, which has the advantage of only having to look one way (except when leading off the tenor cover). Then after a couple of plain courses a bob was called, and I had to cope with this alteration to the pattern. First time was easy, because I knew what to do — instead of making 2nd’s place, continue plain hunting up to the back, down to the front, and make 2nd’s next time. Then a bob was called when I was dodging 3/4 up, and I was lost completely. Apparently I should have made 4th’s, then plain hunted back to the lead and dodged 3/4 up next time. I’ll have to check this — I fancy I might get asked to do something similar on Wednesday! [Correction: after making 4th’s, I should have hunted down to the lead, and next time lain four blows in 5th place; that is, by making 4th’s place you become the bell that is dodging 3/4 down, and that bell’s next variation from plain hunting is four blows at the back. Got that?]

In other bellringing news, our captain has indicated his intention to stand down, which means I get to be captain. Gulp.

[Update: at a ringers’ meeting held before practice on 8 December, I was elected tower captain, and Chris Armes as new vice-captain.]

Posted by Simon Kershaw at 9:59 PM | Comments (0)

September 8, 2003

Plain Bob Minor

For a few weeks, stretching over the interrupted practices of summer, I have been ringing bell number 2 at a plain course of bob doubles (with a tenor cover). Tonight I had a go at bob minor, where the interruptions to plain hunting are dodges at 3/4 down, then 5/6 down, 5/6 up, 3/4 up, and make 2nds. We did two courses — I pretty much kept my place throughout the first, and began to lose my place halfway through the second. That is, I knew where I was, but I was mis-remembering where to dodge. I knew I was doing this and also realized that if I carried on I would come to lead in the right place, which is indeed what happened. Fortunately the ringers around me knew pretty much what they were doing.

Earlier in the summer, another ‘landmark’ reached was supervising a less-experienced ringer ringing up — I did this on two separate occasions (for two different ringers), and each time I first helped them control the rope, and then more or less took over from them. Perhaps not the best thing for them, but good for my hand-eye co-ordination!

Posted by Simon Kershaw at 9:46 PM | Comments (0)

June 25, 2003

Plain hunting

Practice at H Grey. Amongst other things I plain-hunted on treble to: Plain Bob Triples (easy by numbers); Stedman Triples [Correction: I couldn’t have been plain hunting on the treble in Stedman Triples, because Stedman doesn’t have the treble plain hunting; probably I meant that I was ringing the tenor cover to this method — rather different! perhaps Grandsire Triples?]; and hardest of all, to St Simon’s Triples.

In St Simon’s the order of the bells is different coming down to the front from the order going up to the back, which means that I had to do it by ‘counting my place’ rather than by numbers. I more or less managed it (and didn’t lose my place), which must mean that my ‘rope sight’ in Triples is nearly there. Going up to the back is fairly easy (using the principle ‘follow the bell that followed you’). On the way down to the front I can see 7th place, 6th place (only one other rope left), just about see 5th place (two other ropes left), 2nd place (one rope gone down), and just about 3rd place (two ropes gone down) — and try and ring somewhere right for 4th place!

Posted by Simon Kershaw at 11:24 AM | Comments (0)

May 26, 2003

a band of ringers

This month, for the first time we held a ringers’ meeting to formally change the signatories on the Tower bank account. Sue Bates and I became signatories. John Marlow remained as a signatory from the previous ringers, so that there is officially continuity with that band.

Posted by Simon Kershaw at 11:09 AM | Comments (0)

January 18, 2003

joining the Ely Diocesan Association

With Sue Bates, and Caroline and Carrie-Anne Armes, I attended the AGM of the Huntingdon District of the Ely Diocesan Association of Church Bellringers. Sue, Jenny and I were elected members of the Association, which requires reasonable competency at ringing a bell.

Posted by Simon Kershaw at 11:14 AM

January 1, 2003

Ringing in the New Year

New Year’s Day: at 11.20am we rang the bells at St Ives to celebrate the New Year, followed by a lunch party for ringers from the area.

By this stage I could ring reasonably well in rounds on a number of bells, and could ring a tenor cover to a Triples method. I could also ring ‘called changes’, but not always correctly.

Posted by Simon Kershaw at 11:07 AM

November 3, 2002

Ringing on a Sunday

Sunday 3 November 2002 All Saints’ Sunday: today we rang the bells after the main Sunday service, the first time that the new band of ringers, assisted by others, had rung the bells for worship. Several people rang at least a few pulls, including Jenny and me, together with Sue Bates, and (if I remember correctly) Carrie-Anne Armes, Chris Stephens, Andy Walker, and perhaps some others.

Posted by Simon Kershaw at 10:57 AM

October 23, 2002

Making a noise

After five lessons at St Ives, we — Jenny and I — went to practice at Hemingford Grey. First time ringing an untied bell (that makes a sound) and first time at trying to ring rounds.

Posted by Simon Kershaw at 10:53 AM

September 9, 2002

Learning to ring bells

First practice session at St Ives. Using a tied bell (i.e. the clapper is strapped in place so that it doesn’t hit the bell and ring) a group of 5 or 6 beginners practised backstrokes. Michael White, tower captain at Hemingford Grey, assisted by his wife Bridget, was the teacher, supervising us, ringing the handstrokes, and ensuring nothing went wrong, or rescuing us if it did.

Posted by Simon Kershaw at 10:42 AM

September 8, 2002

Ever wanted to ring bells?

For some time at St Ives there has been no regular ringing of the church bells. At long last something will be done about this, and Michael White, tower captain at neighbouring Hemingford Grey, has offered to teach a new band.

So this morning, after Church, Jenny and I stayed behind to hear what Michael had to say. I suppose nearly a dozen others were there too.

Michael set up a bell (number 5) at backstroke, and then we each, under his supervision, pulled it down, Michael catching the sally and re-setting the bell.

We agreed to start learning how to do this, so that our bells can once again sound out regularly to announce worship and other celebrations at the Church. First practice, tomorrow night.

Posted by Simon Kershaw at 11:02 AM