Thinking allowed

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