A satisfying peal of London

Back in 2015/16 we rang a series of peals with Mike and Ian, working our way through the right-place methods from the standard 8 surprise major; a couple of years later we rang a peal of Bristol with Mike. As part of this year's campaign to get more people to ring SACR handbell peals, it occurred to me to complete the standard 8 with Mike by ringing a peal of London, and perhaps follow it up with a peal of 8-spliced.

We arranged two dates a fortnight apart. On the first attempt we rang five or six courses before collapsing, then rang a quarter for practice. The second attempt was today and we scored a good peal. The previous session had clearly done us good, and Jonathan got some extra practice in yesterday with an online quarter peal attempt. Whereas the previous attempt was rather touch and go (and didn't go, in the end), today we were clearly ringing well enough to succeed, right from the beginning.

London is difficult and takes a lot of concentration. It was only the third peal of London that we've rung at Albany Quadrant, in comparison with 12 of Bristol, and the previous one was in 2018.  We did well.

I haven't come across a really good handbell composition of London. For the previous two peals I called this one by Henry Dains, which is reasonably popular:

5024 London Surprise Major
Henry Dains

B  W  H  23456
5  -  -  45236
5  -     34256
Omit one block of 5.

The problem however is that there's a before in almost every course, which means that the tenors only ring the lead when they are 2nd and 4th place bells once. This time I decided it would be better to ring something with mostly full courses, so I called Middleton's. It's best known as a composition of Cambridge, but it's also true to London and is fairly often rung to Yorkshire as well as other methods. In fact I called Johnson's variation, which means starting with two homes and then calling a before, like this:

5120 London Surprise Major
Charles Middleton (arranged by Henry Johnson)

M  B  W  H  23456
         2  34256
   -     3  45362
2     2  3  56423
2     2  3  62534
2     2  3  23645
2     2  -  23456