Thinking allowed

finally ringing Cambridge Surprise

So finally, some two months after it was sug­ges­ted that I go away and learn Cam­bridge Sur­prise Minor, my chance to try ringing it arrives.

After sev­er­al months away, my ringing teach­er is now back, and Wed­nes­day prac­tices at Hem­ing­ford Grey (which we some­times struggled to main­tain in his absence) are once again more com­plex evenings.

Tonight I walked into the ringing cham­ber: there were 6 oth­er ringers, about to ring Bob Doubles for someone still learn­ing the meth­od. ‘Right, we’ll ring Bob Minor instead,’ the cap­tain said, and pro­ceeded to call a touch. I was slightly taken by sur­prise at the first lead end, because I had been expect­ing a plain course, when he called a Bob. Anoth­er ringer arrived, and with eight present we rang a touch of Grand­sire Triples. This went quite well, but some­where along the line the cap­tain and I swapped places, pre­sum­ably when we were dodging and he was telling me what to do.

Then, after some oth­er ringing, ‘We’ll ring a touch of Kent next.’ Hasty revi­sion of what hap­pens at a bob in Kent. If you’re com­ing out of the slow or going into the slow you are unaf­fected; if you are just mak­ing 3rds & 4ths up for the second time, then imme­di­ately add 4ths and 3rds (so you make 4 blows in 4ths) — this is places down the first time. And if you are at the back then add anoth­er double dodge in the place where you are already dodging. I rang bell 4, so made an extra blow in 4th place and 2 in 3rds — 4ths & 3rds down the first time. Then at the next lead end: ‘Bob!’. I was just mak­ing places down the second time, so I was unaf­fected and went into the slow work at the front. And as I came out of the slow, dodging with the treble, anoth­er bob was called, and again I was unaf­fected, mak­ing places up. So we car­ried on, mak­ing places up the second time, and then ‘Bob!’, so just about to imme­di­ately do places down, but instead ‘That’s all!’ and we had rung three leads of Kent.

Again after a bit more ringing, we turned to Cam­bridge. I offered to ring the treble, and then added ‘I’d like to have a go ringing inside after­wards’. And so it came to my turn to try Cam­bridge Sur­prise. I chose to ring the 3, and the treble was rung by someone just learn­ing to treble bob. We set off: I did the back­work, and Cam­bridge places down, dodged in 1–2, up to the back, dodge 5–6 up and double-dodge 5–6 down, and down to the front­work. And as I made 2nds in the middle of the front­work, it was clear that some­thing had gone wrong, and the treble was lost, and ‘rounds’ was called. We tried again, this time put­ting an exper­i­enced ringer on the treble, and the per­son who had been stand­ing behind the treble came and stood behind me, but we went wrong even quick­er this time. Again it hadn’t been my fault, and we tried again. Back­work, places down, dodge and lead, one and two at the back, front­work (con­cen­trate, con­cen­trate), two and one at the back, lead and dodge, places up (is he going to call a bob?!), ‘That’s all!’. We had made it, and I had rung Cam­bridge Sur­prise Minor at essen­tially the first attempt.

My mind­er made two com­ments: that clearly, I had learnt the meth­od; and that it was a good job I had not missed the sally or I would surely have broken the stay. This was a com­ment on the brute force with which I had been ringing and con­trolling the rope. And it was true, I had been pulling hard and check­ing the rope at slmost every stroke in order to keep my place. I can remem­ber that when I first learnt to ring I would use this brute force tech­nique to ring the ten­or, but it’s not some­thing I have done much since acquir­ing bet­ter bell con­trol. Must try and do bet­ter next time.

All in all a pretty action-packed prac­tice night.

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