Reaction to "Review of Change Ringing on Handbells"

I recently (belatedly, like with everything else) discovered the concept of "reaction video" - just in case you don't know, this means an online video response to another online video. Possibly they can go back and forth, or in cycles. As far as I know, no-one has made a reaction video to any of my method videos, but I'm sure it would be entertaining. Anyway, this is going to be a "reaction blog".

But, the review of "Change Ringing on Handbells" mentioned in the title is not a review of my and Tina's book. No, it's a review of "Change Ringing on Handbells" by Chris Woolley, by John Spice, published in The Ringing World in January 1949 and reprinted this week in the "75 Years Ago" column.

In a previous blog I discussed some correspondence from The Ringing World in 1946, about approaches to ringing surprise major on handbells. This included a long letter by John Spice (reproduced with permission). Evidently John Spice was an expert handbell ringer, which is confirmed by checking his PealBase records. He rang a total of 251 handbell peals, including all of the standard eight surprise major, and conducted 138. Clearly he was a good choice of reviewer. His obituary is an interesting read, with some good handbell-ringing anecdotes. Tina knew him in Oxford, and remembers ringing handbells with him.

To get to the point, John Spice's review comments that

" 'Ringing by the places' is advocated throughout, and handbell ringers of the 'two blue lines' school may for this reason feel that the book is not for them."

and goes on to say

"The least satisfactory part of the book may be felt to be that on Surprise methods, consisting as it does of a somewhat indigestible list of places to be made and directions to be followed."

and later

"more stress might have been laid on the section (i.e. the four rows with the treble in any one dodging position) as the working unit of Treble Bob and Surprise methods."

This connects with the letter from 1946 that I referred to above, which advocates thinking of a method one section at a time and processing the dodges and places within that section before moving on to the next section.

Chris Woolley's handbell CV, as seen in PealBase, is much more extensive than John Spice's, with a total of 637 peals (171 conducted) including, for example, 55 of London Major. His technique worked for him, and John Spice's technique worked for John Spice. We can also see from PealBase that they rang 7 handbell peals together between 1941 and 1946, although none of surprise.

I should finish by noting that John Spice's review of Chris Woolley's book was generally favourable, concluding

"the grateful thanks of the Exercise are certainly due to Mr Woolley for the very capable way in which he has carried it out."