I went yesterday to practice at Hemingford Grey. Although the tower captain there is away on an extended holiday, this is still a weekly gathering of more experienced ringers. At the end of the practice I was asked, ‘What method are you learning at the moment?’ Hmm, I thought, ‘Nothing really, busy running practices and teaching some beginners.’ Back came the suggestion ‘You could start having a look at Cambridge.’
So, I had a quick look at Cambridge Surprise Minor in Steve Coleman to see what is involved. I also glanced at Cambridge Surprise major, and quickly decided that I’d concentrate on Minor for now. If the Hemingford captain were around he’d probably throw me into the deep end with Major (as he threw me into Stedman Triples and Kent Treble Bob Major without first trying Doubles and Minor).
Anyway, after reading what Coleman has to say on the subject, the next step is to commit this to memory, and part of that process is to regurgitate it here. (Warning: if you are reading this and trying to learn Cambridge, then don’t assume that the instructions here are right. I am doing this from memory as part of my own learning process.)
We can divide a plain course of Cambridge into several pieces of work: the front work, the back work, and the places, which combined with a couple of other dodges, and some pieces of plain hunt, make up the method.
Coleman calls the places the most difficult bit, but they looked fairly easy to remember to me (though perhaps not so easy to remember when ringing, of course). Places are made in 3-4 up and in 3-4 down. Cambridge places in 3-4 up work as follows:
dodge 3-4 up, make 4ths place, make 3rds place, dodge 3-4 up, make 4ths place, make 3rds place, dodge 3-4 up
That’s it. Cambridge places down are the exact opposite of this:
dodge 3-4 down, make 3rds place, make 4ths place, dodge 3-4 down, make 3rds place, make 4ths place, dodge 3-4 down
If I remember correctly, then the dodge in the middle of the places work is made with the treble.
So, we can build a skeleton diagram of this, showing the treble and the bell making places.
First, Cambridge places up:
—x–1– dodge 3-4 up
—x1– make 4ths place
—x–1– make 3rds place
—1x— dodge 3-4 up with the treble
—1x— make 4ths place
1–x— make 3rds place
1—x— dodge 3-4 up
1—x– and continue
And secondly, Cambridge places down:
–1–x— dodge 3-4 down
–1x— make 3rds place
–1–x— make 4ths place
—x1— dodge 3-4 down with the treble
—x1— make 3rds place
—x–1 make 4ths place
—x—1 dodge 3-4 down
–x—1 and continue