Thinking allowed

Simon's Tip for Stedman

I’ve been ringing Sted­man for about a year now, and can gen­er­ally keep my place — even in touches of Triples. I was quite pleased with myself last night because I was able to put right anoth­er ringer. I had dodged 6–7 up with him, and then when I star­ted to dodge 6–7 down he was still hanging around in 6–7. ‘4–5 down now, M,’ I called, and then a dodge or so later, since I thought he still wasn’t sure where he was, ‘Down to the front, now.’ I had to phrase it that way because I had no idea wheth­er he should have gone in quick or slow. But at least it kept the ringing going, and we man­aged to com­plete the touch.

That got me think­ing, how­ever, about how to know wheth­er to go in quick or slow in Sted­man, a per­en­ni­al prob­lem for Sted­man ringers. Steve Cole­man calls it Stedman’s Greatest Prob­lem, and offers a num­ber of tips for remem­ber­ing or work­ing out wheth­er, after you have dodged 4–5 down, you should go in as a slow bell or a quick bell.

One of the sug­ges­ted tips is to use your feet, mov­ing one foot for­ward if you go out quick, and then when you are about to go in, look­ing at your feet and remem­ber­ing that this foot (or is it the oth­er foot?) means some­thing or oth­er. And if a bob is called you have to remem­ber to swap which foot is forward.

But if you are going to put anoth­er bell right then you want to know wheth­er each six is a quick six or a slow six, not just the one where you go down to the front three. What you need to do, then, is to keep track of each six as you ring, or at least as you double-dodge your way to the back and down again.

My first idea was that as you do each double dodge you think, as a back­ground thought: ‘this is a quick six’ or ‘this is a slow six’. But it can be quite hard to keep this in mind — you need to keep it rather near­er the front than the back.

So, this is what I came up with, though I haven’t had a chance to put it into prac­tice yet. I don’t claim any great ori­gin­al­ity for it, but it seems to me to be suf­fi­ciently simple to cope with all cases, and with as many bobs as may be called.

All it entails is that as you count your place when double-dodging up to the back and down again, you append to each pos­i­tion the word ‘quick or ‘slow’. The same word will apply through­out the six blows of a double dodge, and when you move to the next double dodge you swap to the oth­er word.

So, if you have gone out slow, then you would count:

4th quick, 5th quick; 4th quick, 5th quick; 4th quick, 5th quick;
and then
6th slow, 7th slow; 6th slow, 7th slow; 6th slow, 7th slow;
7th quick, 6th quick; 7th quick, 6th quick; 7th quick, 6th quick;
5th slow, 4th slow; 5th slow, 4th slow; 5th slow, 4th slow;
and so go in quick.

If a bob (or a single) is called then you simply move onto the next six:

6th slow, 7th slow; 6th slow, 7th slow; ‘BOB!’ 6th slow, 7th slow;
6th quick, 7th quick; 6th quick, 7th quick; 6th quick, 7th quick;
7th slow, 6th slow; 7th slow, 6th slow; 7th slow, 6th slow;

and you have auto­mat­ic­ally kept track of what’s going on.

And not only have you kept track so that you will know what to do when you arrive at the front, but you also at any stage know wheth­er a bell going in should go in quick or slow too. So you have more chance of being able to put them right.

Wheth­er this works in prac­tice remains to be seen. One pos­sible dif­fi­culty is the tongue-twist­ing nature of some of these phrases. But you don’t actu­ally have to say them aloud or par­tic­u­larly accur­ately — just good enough not to get lost. Stay tuned!

1 comment

  • Simon Kershaw says:

    This sys­tem seems to work very well. With prac­tice, I find I don’t need to say quick or slow at every stroke, so I just say it at the handstrokes.

    Addi­tion­ally it helps to keep track of the sixes whilst doing the slow work, partly to put anoth­er bell right, but also to know when to call bobs and singles.

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