Thinking allowed

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.