Thinking allowed

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!