Thinking allowed

a touch of Kent Treble Bob

Oh dear! I have been dis­covered! My ringing teach­er said to me at Monday’s prac­tice, ‘I was look­ing at your web­site…’. I shall have to be care­ful what I write!

His revenge was to tell me to learn a touch of Kent Treble Bob, the ‘blue line’ of which I learnt a few months ago, and I have had one attempt at ringing a plain course.

When ‘Bob’ is called, the treble is, of course, unaf­fected, and so are the two bells which are going into, or com­ing out of, the slow.

The bells which are dodging in 5–6 and above make two extra dodges — three dodges in all, rather than one.

One bell makes the bob: the bell which is mak­ing 3rds and 4ths places up the second time. It makes 3rds and 4ths up, and then imme­di­ately rings 4ths and 3rds down, and goes straight down to the lead. It has become the bell mak­ing 3rds and 4ths down the first time, so it will make 3rds and 4ths down again next time, and then go back into the slow.

The bells which triple dodge at the back con­tin­ue in their treble bob course. Each of them is delayed in mak­ing 3rds and 4ths down by one lead end (because the bell which made the bob has pushed itself in, instead).

Remem­ber that you know you will have to make 3rds and 4ths down for the first time in the next lead end — because you dodge 3–4 down with the treble. So you ‘just’ have to notice when you are dodging with the treble in that position.


calling 'bob'

I had anoth­er go at call­ing a touch of bob doubles on Monday. I’ve now got to the point where I can remem­ber the sequence of calls (e.g. ‘out’, ‘make’, ‘in’ to leave bell 2 unaf­fected), and I know pretty much when to make each call but actu­ally mak­ing the calls in just the right place is a bit trick­i­er. Time to look at this in a little more detail, perhaps.

First, let’s write out the first lead end of Bob Doubles, for a plain course, and then, next to it, what hap­pens if a bob is called.

(plain) | (bob)

12345 | 12345

21435 | 21435
24153 | 24153
42513 | 42513
45231 | 45231
54321 | 54321
53412 | 53412
35142 | 35142
31524 | 31524 ‘bob!’ — called at back­stroke before treble leads
13254 | 13254
13524 | 12354 3 runs out, 2 runs in, 5 makes the bob, 4 unaffected

31254 | 21534
32145 | 25143
23415 | 52413
24351 | 54231
42531 | 45321

The bob should be called, I think, at the back­stroke before the treble leads, giv­ing a whole pull’s notice of the bob. This means it is called when the treble is in 2nd place before leading.

Since it is not easy (not for me any­way) to always see when the treble is in 2nd place, we ana­lyse where each of the oth­er bells is at this point.

We can see from the above dia­gram that, that when the treble is in 2nd place, the oth­er bells are as follows:

  • the bell that would have made 2nds place (but runs out), leads (back­stroke),
  • the bell that would have dodged 3/4 up (but makes the bob) is in 3rd place
  • the bell that would have dodged 3/4 down (but runs in) is in 4th place
  • the bell that rings 4 blows behind (and is unaf­fected) makes its first blow at the back

In the­ory the call should be made with the lead­ing bell, that is, when the bell that would make 2nds place makes its back­stroke lead. If you are ringing that bell then the tim­ing is easy, but if you are ringing one of the oth­ers then you need to make the call just before you pull your rope. This is more espe­cially true for the bells at the back. Remem­ber that each of these calls is made at back­stroke.


another touch of bob doubles

Since first try­ing to call a touch of Bob Doubles back in August I have not had much oppor­tun­ity to try this again.

Yes­ter­day I had anoth­er go, or rather, sev­er­al goes.

First time we had someone still learn­ing Plain Bob on bell 2. She can just about ring a plain course reas­on­ably well, and so it was sug­ges­ted that I call a touch with bell 2 unaf­fected. This means that a bob is called just as bell 2 is ringing long 5ths (four blows in 5th place). As I was ringing bell 5, I knew that this meant that the first bob should be called as I was about to make 2nds, i.e. at the second lead end (start­ing on bell 5, at the first lead end you dodge 3–4 up with bell 2). You have to call a bob just before the treble leads, which when you are about to make 2nds is as you lead. I man­aged this, and then car­ried on ringing try­ing to work out when I should next call ‘bob’.

The cycle of ‘bob’ calls for Plain Bob is: In, Out, Make. So I had to work out that the bob I had just called was ‘Out’ (because instead of mak­ing 2nds I had run out to the back), and there­fore the next bob should be ‘Make’, and then I had to work out what this meant — a bob which causes you to make 4ths place and you do that instead of dodging 3–4 up — and whilst try­ing to work this out I had to keep plain hunt­ing, and keep dodging, remem­ber­ing which dodge came next and doing it.

And all this was too much to remem­ber, too much to get my brain around, and I even­tu­ally missed a dodge and couldn’t work out how to get back into sync. Oh well.

Later I had anoth­er go, this time with an exper­i­enced ringer on bell 2 — in fact with more exper­i­enced ringers on each of the ‘inside’ bells, and I called anoth­er touch, this time ‘three Homes’, mean­ing that you call a bob each time you are ringing 4 blows behind, so that the caller is unaf­fected by the bobs. This is what I had called back in the sum­mer, and I just about man­aged to call it right, though I for­got to call ‘that’s all’ at the end. This call comes a stroke or so after the last bob, when you are ringing bell 5 and call­ing three Homes.

Then we had anoth­er go at call­ing a touch with bell 2 unaf­fected. This time, of course, I was less taken by sur­prise, and had a bet­ter idea of what it was I was sup­posed to be doing. Still far from per­fect, and occa­sion­ally not quite get­ting the calls of ‘bob’ in early enough, but get­ting better.

Just for the record, this is what should happen…

Start­ing on bell 5, ring an extra hand­stroke in 5th place and plain hunt down to the lead, then dodge 3–4 up, up to the back, plain hunt down to the lead again, and at the back­stroke lead call ‘bob’. Then instead of mak­ing 2nds, plain hunt out to the back (an ‘out’ bob call) and down again, make 2nds and lead again. Hunt to the back and dodge 3–4 down, lead, hunt to the back and make long 5ths (four blows in 5th place). Hunt down to the lead, and back out, and as you ring in 2nd place call ‘bob’. Instead of dodging 3–4 up, make the bob (4ths place) (a ‘make’ bob call) and hunt down to the lead, then out to the back and make long 5ths again. Down to the lead and then dodge 3–4 up, up to the back, and plain hunt down to the lead again. Make 2nds, lead again, and hunt to the back, and as you ring the second blow in 5th place you need to have called ‘bob’ again, and instead of dodging 3–4 down run in to the lead (an ‘in’ bob call). Up to the back again, then dodge 3–4 down. Lead, hunt up to the back, and after 2 blows at the back call ‘that’s all’.


'oranges and lemons'

… say the bells of St Clement’s.

But ringing St Clem­ent’s Major is anoth­er mat­ter. There we were, ringing rounds, and about to ring a touch of some­thing, when the con­duct­or (on bell 7) turned to me (bell 6) and said, ‘We’ll ring St Clem­ent’s’ and then pro­ceeded to explain(!) ‘It’s the reverse dodging order of Bob Major. And you make reverse 3rds. And you do some dodging at the front.’ Or some­thing like that.

So off we went, and start­ing from 6th place I hunted down to 3rd, made 3rds place and back up to the back, 2 blows at the back and then down towards the front, dodging 3–4 down on the way, and then start dodging at the front. Bell 4 seemed quite happy to be dodging with me, but the con­duct­or at this point decided some­thing had gone wrong and called rounds. But, even assum­ing that I had not already gone wrong, I don’t think there was any way that I could have man­aged to com­plete the plain course. A little home­work is necessary… 



Those who can, teach...

A long time ago, when I was at school, we used to recite a trite little aph­or­ism: ‘those who can, do; those who can’t, teach’. Pre­sum­ably our inten­tion was to con­vince ourselves of our superi­or­ity over our teachers.

On Sat­urday, on a misty morn­ing, I drove across the fens to Down­ham Mar­ket, to attend a train­ing day, organ­ized by the dio­ces­an asso­ci­ation of bell­ringers. The day was about teach­ing begin­ners to handle a bell, and to take their first steps at ringing back­strokes and then handstrokes. 

Richard Par­geter, the association’s train­ing officer, first led a dozen or so would-be teach­ers through the basics of learn­ing to ring, han­di­capped only by the want of a cable to con­nect his laptop to the pro­ject­or — although this lack of a Power­point accom­pani­ment was no great han­di­cap. As well as the basics of what the begin­ner needs to learn, the teach­er must also be aware of what might go wrong, and be able to cope with poten­tial dis­asters and put right less­er mis­takes. After cof­fee we trooped over to the church, and Richard demon­strated these points with the aid of a com­plete and will­ing novice. After an hour of teach­ing her and demon­strat­ing to us this brave soul was con­fid­ent at ringing back­strokes, and able to try ringing hand­stroke and backstroke.

In the after­noon, we were ourselves let loose to super­vise some volun­teer novices and pseudo-novices. When you know how to ring, and are start­ing to teach then you real­ize how dan­ger­ous it can be for a begin­ner, and how ill-equipped you feel to cope. So I was quite pleased to stand in front of a novice and have her ring back­strokes while I rang the hand­strokes; and then to have her ring a few hand­strokes as well as back­strokes. She was quite good at this, but then I real­ized that she had no idea how to stand the bell, and I would have to do this. Les­son to be learnt — always have an exit strategy, prefer­ably before you get going.

Back to that old jibe about teach­ers. Nasty little boys that we were, we added anoth­er clause: ‘and those who can’t teach, teach teach­ers’. And that was cer­tainly not true on Sat­urday. Richard Par­geter is not only a very exper­i­enced ringer, but has taught many oth­ers to ring over a peri­od of 20 years or so. His book­let One Way to teach Bell Hand­ling, pub­lished by the Cent­ral Coun­cil, sum­mar­izes his approach to teach­ing novice ringers, and his com­ments on the­ory and prac­tice made him an excel­lent teach­er of novice teach­ers. I and oth­ers came away with know­ledge and con­fid­ence to begin to teach our own begin­ners — all in all a good day’s work.


a quarter peal of bob doubles

This after­noon was the wed­ding of the daugh­ter of one of our bell­ringers. As the moth­er of the bride, she was oth­er­wise occu­pied, but to cel­eb­rate the occa­sion we rang a quarter peal of 1260 changes of Bob Doubles, last­ing about 45 minutes. This was the first time I have rung a quarter peal on an ‘inside’ bell – my pre­vi­ous quarter peal was ringing the cov­er bell. This time I rang bell 5, one of the work­ing bells. I’ve been ringing Bob Doubles for about a year now, and it’s pretty much second nature to cope with the plain course and with bobs.

What’s new with a quarter peal are two things: first, the stam­ina required to keep ringing the bell for 45 minutes without rest­ing; and secondly, the men­tal con­cen­tra­tion required. For me, both these things kick in after 25–30 minutes. The legs begin to ache a little and you wish you could stretch them; shift­ing your weight a little is some relief but you still have to con­cen­trate on what you are doing. And my brain begins to get tired at about the same point. Although touches of bob doubles have become second nature and you set out con­fid­ently on the quarter peal, after half an hour you find your­self almost for­get­ting what you are doing. Still count­ing your place (that really has become ingrained), still alert enough to dodge in the right place, and fol­low the bobs when they are called. But each time, try­ing to remem­ber what dodge you did last time and there­fore what dodge it must be next time.

This is when you real­ize the advant­age of know­ing what you do by when you cross the treble: pass the treble in 1–2 up and you must make 2nds and lead again; pass the treble in 4–5 up and you must dodge 3–4 down; pass the treble in 3–4 up and you make long 5ths; pass the treble in 2–3 up and dodge 3–4 up. Ringing for a long time like this really makes you aware of these cross­ing points – if you know where you are sup­posed to be then you can help an inex­per­i­enced treble because you implictly know where they should be; and if your mind is wan­der­ing as to what you should be doing then you can pick up your place again from the treble. Of course, if the treble is in need of help as well then you’re in trouble. For­tu­nately my con­cen­tra­tion didn’t quite go, although I had a couple of shaky moments when I wondered what I was sup­posed to be doing – but nev­er quite actu­ally lost my place.

On Sat­urday after­noon, 16 Octo­ber 2004, at the Church of All Saints, St Ives, Cam­bridge­shire, a Quarter Peal of 1260 Plain Bob Doubles was rung in 46 minutes. 
Weight of Ten­or: 12–0‑4 in G 
*Car­rie-Anne Armes Treble Simon Ker­shaw 5
Brid­get White 2 Ray Hart 6
Richard C Smith 3 Robin Saf­ford 7
Michael V White 4 John Mar­low Ten­or
Con­duc­ted by Michael V White
* First Quarter Peal. Rung with 7,6,8 covering.
Rung to cel­eb­rate the wed­ding of Miss Elaine Bates and Mr Gav­in Midgley

Y Cymun Bendigaid

A pack­age con­tain­ing a new book landed through my let­ter box a couple of days ago. It was a copy of the newly-author­ized ver­sion of the Euchar­ist of the Church in Wales, pub­lished just in time for a meet­ing of the Church’s Gov­ern­ing Body in September.

(The Arch­bish­op of Wales, the Most Revd Barry Mor­gan, can be seen at the meet­ing using what looks like a copy of the altar edi­tion of the book in this picture.)

The arrival of this book was a sig­ni­fic­ant moment for me — because I had designed and type­set it. Hav­ing laboured long and hard over the text and lay­out, over page breaks and line breaks, ver­tic­al and hori­zont­al spa­cing, typeface, kerns and lig­at­ures, page num­bers and good­ness knows what else, here at last was the fin­ished product.

This is always an excit­ing event: to hold in your hands the res­ult of your own crafts­man­ship, your own hard work, and to be able to see for the first time wheth­er it has actu­ally worked, wheth­er you have achieved the effect that you wanted — in this case clar­ity and beauty com­bin­ing tra­di­tion and modernity.

Of course, many people had con­trib­uted to this volume, in ways sig­ni­fic­antly more import­ant than I had. Litur­gists had worked on drafts, revi­sion com­mit­tees and the Gov­ern­ing Body had con­sidered it, and altered it to pro­duce the final author­ized text; oth­ers had cre­ated the cov­er (by Leigh Hur­lock) and the cal­li­graphy (by Shir­ley Nor­man); and the print­er (Biddles) had pro­duced the prin­ted and bound books. But I shall remem­ber the time spent design­ing a lay­out that works, select­ing typefaces, play­ing with type size, and dif­fer­ent com­bin­a­tions of bold and ital­ic and roman, caps and small caps, cre­at­ing cus­tom lig­at­ures (Welsh requires an ‘fh’ lig­at­ure which did not exist in the selec­ted face, so I had to design one myself in roman, ital­ic, bold and bold ital­ic), and of course proofread­ing the text over and over again. Proofread­ing, espe­cially of the par­al­lel Welsh text, was also done by people at the pro­vin­cial office of the Church in Wales. All in all, the res­ult is a book to be very pleased with, I think.

And then after all that, des­pite all the care that has gone into its pro­duc­tion, you begin to notice the mis­takes. Here and there, dot­ted around, are little glitches that have escaped the proofread­ing. It’s amaz­ing that you can proofread a text so many times, both on screen and on paper proofs, and yet the minute you pick up the fin­ished product you find a few more mistakes.

I sup­pose life is like that — you can­not pro­duce the per­fect work, there are always a few little things wrong. At least with a book there is a chance to cor­rect any errors at the next print­ing! Mis­takes in life, on the oth­er hand, very often have to be lived with.


Kent Treble Bob Major

A few weeks ago, as part of an on-line dis­cus­sion of Dorothy L Sayer’s Nine Tail­ors, I sat down and taught myself Kent Treble Bob (and Oxford Treble Bob for good meas­ure, though that doesn’t appear in the book). On Wed­nes­day I finally got a chance to try this out, at prac­tice at Hem­ing­ford Grey. We set out to ring a plain course of Kent Treble Bob Major. I chose to ring bell 6 (because I reckoned that bell 6 or bell 4 would be easi­est to keep my place — see below), but there were a num­ber of com­plic­a­tions. First, the ringer of the treble had nev­er done any treble bob hunt­ing before, but she did have an exper­i­enced ringer stand­ing behind her to help; secondly, at least two of the oth­er ringers were not entirely com­fort­able with Kent.

Why did I choose bell 6? Because, at the start, after dodging with bell 5, bell 6 next dodges in 3–4 down with the treble, and this means that next two times you find your­self in 3–4 down you have to make places (4ths then 3rds) rather than dodging, and after this second time you imme­di­ately dodge with the treble in 1–2 and go ‘into the slow’. All the bells have to do this, but 4 goes straight into the slow from the start, and 6 next time; the oth­er bells have to wait longer for this to hap­pen — more time for a begin­ner to miss this import­ant work.

So, off we went, and I was pleased that I man­aged to keep my place through­out, and so did the treble. One of the oth­er ringers was a bit wobbly, but what really threw us was that the con­duct­or — nat­ur­ally try­ing to keep track of what these inex­per­i­enced ringers were doing — him­self went wrong, telling me, for example, to dodge with him in 5–6 when I was in the slow (but I was sure I was right and ignored him). Still, we man­aged some 5 or so leads of a plain course (which would be 7 leads in total, I think). Dur­ing those 5 leads I had done all my ‘hard’ work — mak­ing places down, doing the slow work at the front, mak­ing places up — and was into the ‘ordin­ary’ work — dodging in 3–4, 5–6, and 7–8 up and down. We imme­di­ately had anoth­er go at a plain course, but — for the same reas­ons — this was less suc­cess­ful than the first.

So I was quite pleased with myself: I had rung most of a plain course of Kent Treble Bob Major, and it wasn’t my fault that it had gone wrong!


connecting with culture

If you’re not famil­i­ar with the Lon­don Insti­tute of Con­tem­por­ary Chris­tian­ity then I sug­gest you take a look. Amongst oth­er things they have a weekly com­ment column entitled Con­nect­ing with Cul­ture which is always worth a read.

This week Nick Spen­cer writes about an infam­ous advert­ising slo­gan and the mar­ket­ing of a fash­ion chain, with import­ant les­sons about the lim­its of self-expres­sion in a free society.


a touch of bob doubles

At the end of prac­tice at St Ives tonight we rang a touch of Bob Doubles, and I volun­teered to call it. I rang the 5 bell and called three ‘Homes’, i.e., called ‘Bob’ each time I came back to do my 4 blows in 5th place. The third time brought us straight back to rounds. This is the first time I have called a touch, and it was reas­on­ably suc­cess­ful. I prob­ably should have called ‘Bob’ frac­tion­ally earli­er — when the treble was at back­stroke before lead­ing, rather than when I was about to pull at back­stroke. And although I was unaf­fected by the bobs, I still man­aged to get slightly muddled in between so that I half missed a dodge. For­tu­nately I was able to recov­er and hadn’t lost my place. Of course, I could have chosen any of the inside bells (2,3,4 or 5) and still called three Homes. Must try and remem­ber that next time — a dis­ad­vant­age of ringing 5 with this touch is that the final bob brings the bells imme­di­ately to rounds, which doesn’t give much time for say­ing ‘That’s all’.

Next time!