The biggest Stedman news this week is Henry Pipe calling the Impossible One-Part on handbells. It's a peal composition by Alan Burbidge, carefully designed to be as difficult as possible. There are equal numbers of plains, bobs and singles, and no repeated sequences of more than a few sixes, so there are really no short-cuts to learning it. It was first conducted by David Pipe in 1990, and then on handbells by Charles Webb in 2012, and not many other times - Mark Eccleston and Jack Page have called it in the tower, but I don't know who else. Anyway, it's an outstanding achievement.
Descending from the impossible one-part to the possible five-part, we rang another quarter yesterday evening, conducted by Marcus, so now the four of us have called it once each. We're ringing much better now than when we started, with far fewer trips, so it's beginning to seem that a peal could be possible. The plan for next week is to ring something slightly longer. As I wrote previously, Thurstans' peal consists of four copies of the quarter peal that we've been ringing, where each quarter is 5 repetitions of the basic Thurstans block:
S H L Q ---------- x x x x x x ----------
The original Thurstans peal joins two quarters together like this:
S H L Q ---------- x x | x x x | T x | 2T x x | x x x | E x x | 4T E T ----------
Note the extra pair of bobs at L in the E (for "extra") block. It then joins the other two quarters together in a similar way but with omits (the bobs at L in the first course) instead of extras, and finally uses singles to join the two halves. The E block moves from the quarter in which the part ends are cyclic on 12345 to the quarter in which the part ends are cyclic on 54321. In fact, the part end after the first E block is 54321678. As this is a two-part transposition, ringing 3T E again returns to rounds as a part end. This gives 2016 made up of 8 Thurstans blocks, so that's what we're going to ring next.
Finally, handbell peals of Stedman Triples returned to Birmingham with a performance of Thurstans' "Sleeping Beauty". This is the same 60 courses arranged as an exact five-part, which apparently was composed before the four-part but not published until rediscovered nearly 50 years later.