A winning streak in Ringing Room

I'm on a run of five consecutive successful quarters in Ringing Room, which might be a personal record.

  • Monday: Bristol Maximus, not perfect but my mistakes are becoming less frequent.
  • Thursday: Sgurr a'Chaorachain, which I have written about a couple of times.
  • Saturday: Bristol Major for the Ringing Room celebration day.
  • Sunday: Kent Royal with the band of Simons.
  • Today: Bristol Royal.

In the Bristol Major and Bristol Royal, I had the experience of calling the quarter when there was a much better conductor in the band: David Brown for the major and Peter Randall for the royal. This gave me a taste of my own medicine, because often when Tina or Jonathan is calling a quarter with the Albany Quadrant band I decide that I'm going to keep everyone right and then I correct any mistakes as quickly as I can. I've always felt that this arrangement must be a little unsatisfactory for them, but they never complain... and this week I was in the position of having someone else jumping on mistakes instantly.

I can usually keep Bristol Major right pretty well, as long as the band basically knows what it's doing, but what I can't do is pinpoint exactly what a bell should be doing if it makes a mistake somewhere during the lead. But David Brown is so quick! I managed to get the occasional "half lead" or "backstroke point" in, but mainly I just concentrated on calling the bobs. It's not that there were a lot of mistakes, and I'm sure we still would have scored if David had been replaced by Tina for example, but it reminded me of how much I can hope to improve at conducting.

I called this composition, that we rang recently with the Albany Quadrant band:

1280 Bristol Surprise Major
Anthony J Cox, arranged by Simon A Bond

M  B  F/I  H  23456
           2  34256
   -          45362
s      x      32456
2 part.

Among the compositions in CompLib, it's one of the ones with the most 4-bell runs (117, I think) except for compositions that have long boring sequences of calls in the same position (e.g. --s-- at home). The 4ths and in means that it's not strictly tenors together, but the tenors just have to ring 3rd and 4ths place bells, which is the symmetrical lead from the 3-4 position.

Bristol Royal is different because I still have to concentrate fairly hard on my own bells and I find it much harder to see what anyone else is doing. Sometimes I can observe a little bit of coursing order on the front, and of course I can announce the half leads and points when necessary, but I can't see which bell is doing which point. Peter is very good though, and also very quick at getting on top of mistakes. A small amount of confusion was caused by the fact that three of the Simons were in the band, but we soon reverted to bell numbers.

The Simons band has expanded with the addition of Simon Percy, who rang with us in Scotland for a while a couple of years ago but is currently based in Thirsk, Yorkshire. I visited Thirsk years ago when I joined one of my school friends on his family's holiday. Thirsk is now famous as the real-life basis for the fictional Darrowby, home of the James Herriott vet stories, but in those days it was less well-known and hadn't started cashing in on its celebrity status.

We rang a good quarter of Kent Royal, for which I called 2W H three times. In the past I have always called W 2H three times, but 2W H is slightly better because 3-4 are coursing for the main part of the 2nd and 3rd courses.

While planning the ten-bell Simons quarter, Simon Melen expressed an interest in joining us, so we will get him in for Kent Maximus next month. And then we realised that there's also Simon Bond, arranger of the composition of Bristol Major above. He's a good handbell ringer: he rang the 41 surprise minor with Robin Hall and Mark Bell a few years ago, and in the last couple of weeks he's rung in two quarters of Zanussi with the Oxford band. So maybe we will have to try a fourteen bell quarter to include all of us. I hope there aren't too many more Simons out there... 

That brings me on to the subject of quarter peal compositions of Kent Maximus (this is turning into a long rambling article). There isn't much choice with standard calls. My default would be M W H repeated. An alternative is to start with a home, but there isn't much to choose between them. Something a bit different is bob bob plain repeated until it comes round, which should be 9 parts in total. In that composition, the 2nd and 3rd between them ring two thirds of all the slow work.

For other compositions you have to use non-standard calls. There are some with a 10th place bob or two as well as the usual 4th place bobs, some that include 6th place bobs, and some that include 8th place bobs. One curious composition by Don Morrison consists only of homes, some of them 4th place bobs and some 6th place bobs. He's got some of surprise royal based on the same idea, but for Kent it means a bob every lead. So the back bells, from 7 round to the tenor, only ring their home leads. That sounds dull, but all the place bells except the slow work are just treble bob hunting anyway, so in effect it's just an alternative to schemes like splicing with Kent Little Bob to keep the back bells out of the slow.

My next attempt with the Five o'Clock Club is also Kent Maximus, this Thursday, which I'm calling, but I will stick to M W H repeated.