August 2020


Yesterday evening was the weekly Handbell Stadium practice, which I joined after having missed a couple of weeks. As usual there was a lot of interest in Double Norwich, so I rang a couple of courses. Then there was a suggestion of Duffield.

If you're not familiar with Duffield, it's a major principle, double, with a simple structure based on six-row divisions. The line is easily memorable. The plain course has a couple of interesting features for handbell ringers. First, all the handbell pairs ring the same pattern. Second, at alternate division ends, the pairs come back together. Also Queens comes up just before the end.

It took a little while to get into, but we rang a plain course and then a short touch. After one failure, I realised I had slipped into ringing Double Norwich. A longer touch came to grief and then it was the end of the practice.

Duffield isn't rung very often, and yesterday evening I claimed never to have rung a touch of it, never to have rung it on handbells, and I didn't even have a clear memory of ringing it in the tower. I decided to do a search in BellBoard, expecting to see hardly any performances. There were 40, mainly of major but a couple of royal and maximus (it extends by adding more sets of double dodges at the back, and loses the double symmetry). Clearly someone has been doing some uploading of historical performances, because there are peals from the mid-20th century and even a peal from 1896. Among them is this blast from the past, which I don't recall at all. 

Pimlico, Greater London
St Saviour
Sunday, 3 July 1994 (7–1–20 in G)
1254 Duffield Major
1 David Holdridge
2 Keith D Anderson
3 Simon J Gay
4 Juliet R Lawrance
5 Adrienne Pyne
6 Stephanie J Pattenden
7 Ruth M Harrison
8 Thomas F Lawrance (C)
1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8 - circled tower to quarter-peals.

It's a good method for practising ringing by place notation, because there's really nothing to remember and you can focus on the position of your bells and how they are affected by each 36. I have an idea for fitting it into one of our Monday evening sessions - more about that another time. 

A less successful week online

Two lost online quarters this week, in contrast to the three successes last week.

Yesterday was an attempt for Cambridge Major, silent and non-conducted. The idea was to meet in Ringing Room and not set up an audio channel (usually we use Zoom); also not to use the chat in Ringing Room. The protocol was to get into the room, assign ourselves to bells (pairs had been agreed in advance), and first ring five whole pulls of rounds to check everything. Then start again, up down and off, and ring the quarter.

Unfortunately we experienced insurmountable delays, by far the worst that I have encountered in Ringing Room. From my viewpoint the problems started immediately: I heard the trebles striking simultaneously in the very first rounds, and after that most rows contained a direct hit or two. We struggled through the first lead a couple of times, but it wasn't going to go. Maybe another time.

Today was Little Bob Maximus. It started well and we got into a good rhythm. Occasionally there were delays, which we tried to power through by sticking to our internal rhythms. But about three courses from the end we started getting severe delays that weren't going away, and some bells ended up on the wrong stroke. We had to stop, but there is good potential and I hope we can succeed another time.

Last week and this week

Lots of handbell ringing, in person and online:

  • Last Monday: Cambridge Royal practice session with Jonathan, Angela and Peter. Different band placing, partly determined by social distancing requirements: Angela on 3-4, me on trebles, Tina conducting.
  • Last Wednesday: online quarter of Stedman Triples. I still find that Stedman takes a lot of concentration. I wish I could get the quick/slow monitor automatically ticking over in my mind.
  • Last Thursday: online quarter of Grandsire Caters, rung very well in 45 minutes. I called the same composition as the previous week.
  • Last Friday: online quarter of spliced London, Bristol, Cambridge and Superlative major. I called the composition that we originally rang for LBSP - hadn't realised it was so long ago (2014)!
  • Yesterday: ringing in person again and success with a quarter of Cambridge Royal. Now we can get through it, I hope we will have the confidence to be able to polish it up another time.

Coming up in the rest of this week:

  • Tomorrow: online quarter of Cambridge Major, silent and non-conducted - Ringing Room without an audio channel!
  • Thursday: online quarter of Little Bob Maximus.
  • Friday: Handbell Stadium practice (I have missed a week or two).

A quarter of Grandsire Caters

Three years after our last attempt at Grandsire Caters, today I called a quarter in Ringing Room. It took us a little while to get into it (actually it took us a little while even to get started, because we met with seven people of whom two were expecting to ring Little Bob Maximus), but after two or three false starts we rang it quite well.

I called this composition, which is what I have called a few times in the tower. I think I got it from the Ringing World Diary originally.

1259 Grandsire Caters

1 2 3 4 5  23456789
-     - -  23456978
        s  63452
s     s    23465
- - -      42365
- - -      34265
-   - -    43265879
- - -      24365
- - -      32465
-   - s    43265978
- - -      24365
- - -      32465
-   - -    23465879
- - -      42365
- - -     (34265)

When calling Grandsire Caters or Cinques, it's important to know how long each course is. Usually most of the courses are shorter than a plain course because the bobs advance the observation bells through the circle of work. In this composition, every course is five leads except the second course, which is six leads, and the last course, which is only four leads (the quarter comes round at handstroke a lead before the course end).

I rang 5-6, because after the first couple of courses they are fixed in 5th and 6th places (but reversed) at the course ends. Other options would be 7-8, because the 7th is fixed at the course ends, or the tenors (but another member of the band had requested them). Some people like calling Grandsire from the treble, in the tower, so calling from 1-2 on handbells could be another reasonable option.

The first three courses needed some preparation, especially the second course because it wouldn't be a good idea to count up to five in order to work out when to call the single. Instead I noted that the 6th goes into the hunt at that single, and I also learnt that it does 6-7 up at the s4 in the third course.

After that, the composition settles into a regular and traditional pattern, with the back bells switching between the tittums (course end 978) and handstroke home (course end 879) positions. The courses with bobs at 1,2,3 are all the same for 5-6, and the 1,3,4 and 1,3,s4 courses are the same as each other.

To check that I was getting the calls in the right place, I used a combination of following the work of one of my bells, and listening (because I don't look at the screen much in Ringing Room) to the position of the treble. I managed without any calling errors, although it took quite a lot of concentration. The rest of the band rang well, with no serious mistakes or swaps. All in all, a satisfying performance.