Mad peal day commenced with Simon, our chief and for the most part, only, conductor going off to the Cathedral to ring a tower bell peal. That left Angela, Jonathan, Robin and myself to ring what really ought to have been a straightforward peal of Yorkshire Major. It was straightforward, and a bit rubbish. While we didn’t quite fire out, we also never had much in the way of a clean stretch of ringing to relax and gain confidence. So we put it out of its misery.
Why did we lack confidence? Mostly it was the very inexperienced conductor (that being me). Had we got through to the end, it would have been my second peal as conductor, on anything. I discovered very quickly that I had both under-prepared, and had just tried to learn the wrong things.
I knew that my ability to put anybody straight was extremely limited, but in fact I found it amazing difficult to just keep myself straight and make sure the bobs went into the right place. I hardly had time to notice the coursing order I had spent so much time memorizing.
Turns out, the rest of the band was quite capable of tracking the coursing order, and it would have been much more useful had I spent a bit more time studying the method structure so that I could have said some helpful general comments, like whether there was dodging or hunting above the treble. While nobody was really hopelessly lost, we had a bit of a problem with getting slightly out of sync, which just kept things the wrong side of unstable.
The lovely Robin McKinley writes in her blog that handbell ringing is harder than tower bell ringing beause when you ring the same method but start from a different pair it is like learning a completely new method (‘Twin fiends: handbells and technology‘ about paragraph six). She is, of course, absolutely right. But there does come a point when you learn enough about a method that you start to see the bigger picture, and see how the different pairs fit together, and how the whole structure of the method works. I know that this is true because I hear other people talk about it.
It is ‘gridsight’. And I really don’t have it. I think I need it if I am to try this again.