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