After ringing a quarter of Sgurr a'Chaorachain yesterday, a new range of surprise royal methods begin to seem possible. They have a common style, with a simple rule-based backwork and a large region of regular frontwork. The gaps are filled in with a few "twiddly bits" at the interface between the frontwork and the backwork. Let's have a look at a few of these methods.
The first is one that I had been thinking about already: Remus. The 2nds place lead end version was named first, as End of Exams. When I came across it a few years ago, I thought the 10ths place version would be a good method to eventually try to ring and name with our band. Of course we didn't get to that level soon enough, and someone else rang it. But it's a good method that deserves to become part of the modern standard repertoire. The backwork has the same pattern as Phobos Surprise Maximus, but there's an easier right place frontwork. The backwork pattern is hunt to a fishtail, reverse hunt to a fishtail, then treble bob hunt.
Another method with the same backwork is Ujay. I don't know where the name comes from, but the first peal was conducted by Rob Lee so possibly he also invented the method. The frontwork is wrong hunting on six, which makes it more like Phobos, but the interface work doesn't have the synchronised points that Phobos does.
After ringing the quarter of Sgurr a'Chaorachain we discussed a couple of other methods. David Brown mentioned a method that's Bristol above the treble and wrong hunting on six below. He didn't remember the name, but looked it up afterwards and it's called Iddesleigh. According to David it was invented by Tony Cox in the 1980s, but David rang the first handbell peal of it. Like many methods in this style, the backwork extends a little bit below the treble, in this case involving a 9th place half lead instead of plain hunting as in Bristol.
Looking at these methods we can start to see a pattern that's almost like surprise minor with combinations of work above and below the treble. They are not exactly combinations of above and below, however, because what we think of as the below work is just when the treble is in 7-8 and above. For example, Ujay and Iddesleigh are a little different when the treble is in 3-4 and 5-6. Nevertheless, I think they can be rung by learning what happens when the treble is near the front and then going into a standard pattern for the rest of the frontwork.
I have already written about Sgurr a'Chaorachain. There is also a method with Sgurr a'Chaorachain backwork and wrong hunting on the front, which is called Walsworth. Again the work when the treble is in 3-4 and 5-6 is different from both Ujay and Iddesleigh, but it's exactly the same as Sgurr a'Chaorachain. Incidentally, as Sgurr a'Chaorachain is very similar to Zanussi Surprise Maximus, it's also possible to produce a maximus method similar to Walsworth, but as far as I can see it hasn't been named yet.
We can look for other backworks to play this kind of game with. King's Norton has London backwork and a more regular frontwork based on wrong hunting on six. Making the frontwork more like Sgurr a'Chaorachain, with points and a half lead dodge, gives Cotteridge.
Another backwork is similar to Lockington Surprise Royal or Belfast Surprise Major: immediate point, reverse hunt to a fishtail, then treble bob. Ringing points and a half lead dodge on the front gives Usselby, and wrong hunting on the front gives Dumfries. The work when the treble's in 5-6 is another variation on the previous methods.
These are not the only possibilities, by any means. There are other methods with right place frontwork, either like Remus or with more treble bob work. But that's enough for now - I can find others to write about another time. Maybe I can also manage to ring some of them. To start with, I hope we can try Remus and Iddesleigh with the Five o'Clock Club schedule in future weeks.