Thinking allowed

towards spliced Surprise

Recently another tower in the area has held a monthly practice for budding Surprise ringers. We’ve been practising Cambridge and Yorkshire with the intention of eventually ringing them spliced together, but we’re not quite at that stage yet. Those attending have included a suitable mix of expert and novice Surprise ringers — it would be next to impossible with all novices!

A necessary step in splicing these methods is to learn what each place bell does, and which place bell it becomes afterwards. Fortunately the order in which place bell succeeds place bell is the same in both Cambridge and Yorkshire: 2, 6, 7, 3, 4, 8, 5, and back to 2. In addition the work of the 3rd place bell is identical in both methods, and most of the others start and finish with similar bits of work. As usual in ringing, what has to be done is to memorize completely these pieces of work so that they can be instantly recalled and interchanged, so in an attempt to do so I have set down here, from memory, what each bell has to do in each method.

Cambridge Yorkshire
2nd place bell
  • second half of the frontwork
  • dodge 3-4 up
  • double and single dodge at the back
  • dodge 5-6 down
  • treble bob down and up
  • triple dodge 5-6 up
  • double and single dodge at the back
  • dodge 5-6 down
and become 6th place bell
3rd place bell:
  • dodge 5-6 up
  • backwork
  • dodge 5-6 down
  • dodge 3-4 down (at the start of 3-4 places down)
and become 4th place bell
4th place bell:
  • finish 3-4 places down (after first dodge)
  • treble bob at the front
  • treble bob at the back
  • finish 3-4 places down (after first dodge)
  • lead and dodge
  • 3-4 places up
  • treble bob at the back
and become 8th place bell
5th place bell:
  • single and double dodge at the back
  • dodge 3-4 down
  • first half of the frontwork
  • make seconds over the treble
  • single and double dodge at the back
  • triple dodge 5-6 down
  • treble bob down to the front
  • dodge up with the treble and make 2nds place
and become the 2nd place bell
6th place bell:
  • straight down to the front
  • treble bob up
  • 5-6 places up
  • dodge 7-8 up
  • straight down to the front
  • second half of the frontwork
  • 5-6 places up
  • dodge 7-8 up
and become 7th place bell
7th place bell:
  • lie at the back
  • dodge 7-8 down
  • straight down to the front
  • treble bob at the front
  • 3-4 places up
  • lie at the back
  • dodge 7-8 down
  • 3-4 places down
  • dodge and lead
  • 3-4 places up
and become the 3rd place bell
8th place bell:
  • 5-6 places down
  • treble bob down (incl dodge and lead)
  • dodge 5-6 up
  • 5-6 places down
  • first half of the frontwork
  • dodge 5-6 up
and become the 5th place bell.
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Calling Plain Bob

Over the last few of weeks I have been calling simple touches of Bob Major and Bob Triples.

First was Bob Major, three weeks ago. ‘Call a touch of Bob Major’, asked the captain at Wednesday practice. ‘What do I call?’ I responded, already holding the rope of the number 6 bell. He thought for a moment and replied ‘Call a bob at the end of the first lead, and then at the end of the fourth and the fifth; and then repeat.’ Okay, I thought, can I remember that at short notice? So off we went, about to dodge 7-8 down so call ‘bob!’, then 7-8 up, 5-6 up, about to dodge 3-4 up so ‘bob!’ and make the bob, next is 5-6 down and don’t forget to call ‘bob!’ first. That’s half way, now we just have to call a similar pattern of bobs. So, ‘bob!’ at 7-8 down, then 7-8 up, 5-6 up, and now I’ve lost count of how many leads there have been — is there a bob next time or not? A nudge from another ringer and I manage to call the bob at exactly the right point, and make the bob. Then ‘bob!’ again, dodge 5-6 down and ‘That’s all’.

Afterwards, at home, I look this up, and find it is the most commonly called touch of Bob Major, which when called from the Tenor is: ‘wrong’, three ‘befores’, ‘middle’ and ‘home’, but can be rung from any bell by remembering the leads: bob, plain, plain, bob, bob; repeat.

Last night the request was similar: ‘Call a touch of Bob Triples’. Again, I have to ask what to call, and this time the reply is, ‘Call plain, bob, bob, plain, and repeat.’

I am holding the rope of number 7, and off we go. 5-6 up at the end of the first lead, then about to dodge 3-4 up, so ‘bob!’ and make the bob. Then about to dodge 5-6 down, so ‘bob!’ and dodge unaffected. Next time it’s four blows behind and I see that I am simply back at my starting position, so the calls of the second half will be exactly the same as the first half, and when we get to the four blows behind then ‘that’s all’.

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more Stedman

Since that first success at calling a simple touch of Stedman Triples, I have called several more touches. The next touch to learn, after the initial 2 Qs is Q & S twice (or S & Q twice, depending which bell you are ringing).

An S call, is a pair of bobs, the first called when you are dodging 4-5 down and about to go in slow, and the second called 6 blows later (at the handstroke lead of the first whole turn). This contrasts with a Q call which is a pair of bobs called as you are about to go in quick, and at the handstroke in 2nds place after leading.

Stedman has a couple of other places to call pairs of bobs that leave you unaffected by the call. Each of these pairs occurs during the slow work, and they are labelled ‘H’ and ‘L’.

H is a pair of bobs called either side of the first half turn. L is a pair of bobs called during the last whole turn.

Of course, it is also possible to call bobs in 6-7 up and down, and in 4-5 up. But in this piece we will look at the bobs called during the slow work. And we will look at the way that the Stedman frontwork is constructed.

Stedman frontwork, we recall, consists of alternate ‘sixes’ of forward hunting and backward hunting. When learning Stedman we worked these sixes out then recast them into the traditional Stedman chunks of work — first whole turn, first half turn, second half turn, last whole turn. But it can also be helpful to ring it as alternate sixes of forward and backward hunting. This helps to keep the sixes distinct, and to remember which is a quick six and which a slow six (which helps you tell another bell how to come in, quick or slow, if necessary). In addition, calls of ‘bob’ (or ‘single’) are made at the penultimate stroke of each six, so remembering where the sixes are helps you know when to call the bobs, without having to overlay them on the whole and half turn structure.

x slow six = backward hunting, so lie in 3rd place
x
x
xand lead at backstroke and handstroke
x
x

xquick six = forward hunting, so lead at hand and back
x
x
x lie in 3rd place, back and hand
x
x

xslow six = backward hunting
x
x lie in 3rd place, hand and back
x
x
x

xquick six = forward hunting
x lie in 3rd place, back and hand
x
x
xlead at hand and back
x

xslow six = backward hunting
xlead at back and hand
x
x
x lie in 3rd place, hand and back
x

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learning Yorkshire Surprise Major

Homework time again. This time we’ve been told to learn Yorkshire (Yorkshire Surprise Major) for next week. It’s been a while since I set out to learn a new method – perhaps it’s becoming easier. We shall see.

Yorkshire is similar in parts to Cambridge (the method, not the geography, that is). Whereas Cambridge contains ‘Cambridge places’, Yorkshire has a shorter form ‘Yorkshire places’ or ‘short places’ of dodge, make places, dodge (whereas in Cambridge it is: dodge, make places, dodge, make places, dodge). Places are made in 3-4 and in 5-6 up and down. Here for example is how you ring Yorkshire places in 3-4
up:

x——
x—– Yorkshire 3-4 places up
x—-
x—–
x—-
x—-
x—–
x—–
x—-
x—–
x—-
—-x— and carry on up

The backwork is identical to that in Cambridge – and indeed, Yorkshire is identical to Cambridge if you are above the treble. This means that whenever you pass above the treble you do whatever you would have done in Cambridge if you had passed the treble at that point, and this continues until you pass below the treble. Now if only I could ring Cambridge by the treble this might be some help!

Yorkshire also includes the frontwork of Cambridge, but it is split into two separate halves, and you don’t get to dodge or make seconds over the treble in either half.

First thing is to try and remember the order of work, which looks like this, assuming we are ringing the 2.

dodge down with the treble
treble bob up
triple-dodge in 5-6 up
2 & 1 at the back (double dodge 7-8 up, lie, single dodge 7-8 down)
dodge 5-6 down

straight down to the lead
second half of frontwork (dodge down, lead, make 2nds, dodge down, dodge up)
straight up

Yorkshire places in 5-6 up
treble bob at the back (dodge 7-8 up, lie, dodge 7-8 down)
Yorkshire places 3-4 down
dodge and lead
Yorkshire places 3-4 up

dodge 5-6 up
backwork
dodge 5-6 down

Yorkshire places 3-4 down
lead and dodge
Yorkshire places 3-4 up
treble bob at the back
Yorkshire places 5-6 down

first half of the frontwork (dodge down, dodge up, make 2nds, lead, dodge up)

dodge 5-6 up
1 & 2 at the back
triple-dodge 5-6 down
treble bob down to the lead
dodge 1-2 up with the treble
make 2nds place

Armed with this information we can write out a plain course of Yorkshire, here given for the 3 …

(more…)

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a golden quarter peal

At All Saints’, St Ives, on Sunday morning, 29 July 2007 at 9.15a.m., a quarter peal of 1260 Plain Bob Triples was rung in 45 minutes.
Weight of Tenor: 12-0-4 in G
Adam Safford Treble Anne East 5
Bridget White 2 Sally Walker 6
Simon Kershaw 3 Michael V White 7
Duncan Walker 4 Ron East Tenor
Composed and Conducted by Michael V White
Rung to celebrate the Golden Wedding anniversary of John and Sheila Rhodes, married on Saturday 28 July 1957
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Calling Stedman Triples

Stedman Triples is a method for which I have a particular affection. When I began to ring it was almost the first method to which I rang the tenor behind — the double dodging of bells in 6-7 making it easier than many methods to see which bells to ring over. And a couple of years later, in 2004, I began to learn to ring an inside bell.

Now I can generally ring touches of Stedman Triples, coping with bobs (even odd bobs) and (usually) remembering all the details of the slow work.

Last week at practice at Hemingford Grey I called a touch of Grandsire Triples, and checking this touch afterwards in Coleman, I read on into the next chapter, about calling Stedman Triples. There I discovered that actually it was quite easy to call a simple touch. And so tonight when the tower captain suggested a touch of Stedman I asked if I could call it. Choosing the 6, I intended to call ‘Two Qs’, that is, to call two pairs of bobs — each pair consisting of a bob just before going in quick and then in second place after leading. So off we went, and I called the first bob a whole pull too early, and shortly thereafter asked for rounds. Off we went ago and this time I got the first two bobs right, ran through the rest of the course and called the third bob, and then it began to go wrong. The two bells in 6-7 apparently didn’t hear the call of ‘bob’, and with them awry I landed on the front and went a bit wrong too. Rounds again. Enough for that attempt, so we stood and rang something else.

Later we had another go. This time we got to the fourth bob, and on past there until I went in slow and there clearly weren’t enough bells on the front! Rounds again, and then try once more: dodge with the 7, then double dodge with the treble, ‘bob’, in quick, ‘bob’, out quick, double dodge up to the back and down again, in slow, out slow, double dodge up to the back and down again, ‘bob’, in quick, ‘bob’, out quick, double dodge up to the back and down once again, in and out slow (nearly there now), double dodge up to the back (we’re going to make it), dodge 6-7 down, and ‘that’s all’ — we’ve done it, and I have successfully called a touch of Stedman Triples. Yay! A real sense of achievement, and smiles all round.

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a quarter peal on eight

This afternoon I took part in a quarter peal of Plain Bob Major, my first quarter peal on eight bells.

On Saturday afternoon, 5 May 2007, at the Church of Saint James, Hemingford Grey, Cambridgeshire, a Quarter Peal of 1280 Plain Bob Major was rung in 45 minutes.
Weight of Tenor: 11-2-13 1/2 in G#
Bridget White Treble David Papworth 5
*Adam Safford 2 † Simon Kershaw 6
Cass Boocock 3 Richard Smith 7
John Boocock 4 Michael V White Tenor
Composed and Conducted by Michael V White
* First Quarter Peal ‘inside’ and on eight bells (aged 10 years).
† First Quarter Peal on eight bells.
Rung to celebrate the wedding of Richard Nelson Wallis and Ruth Christine Sturman
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Progress report

It’s been a while since I have posted here, but a few things have been happening.

I have continued to try and practise Cambridge Major; I occupied a flight to New York by learning the blue line for Double Norwich and I have occasionally had an opportunity to try and ring it — ‘first, treble bob, last, near, full, far’, the aide memoire for Double Norwich, has become firmly planted in my head.

More recently I have begun to call touches of methods other than Bob Doubles. I can call simple touches of Bob Minor, and this has become something we try to ring on a Sunday morning, since we usually have six ringers available. This touch leaves one bell unaffected, a bob being called whenever the observation bell is dodging 5-6 up or 5-6 down. This can be yourself, but it is more useful to have a less-experienced ringer unaffected by the bobs, which means that calling the touch is slightly more complicated.

I am also making progress at working out what other bells should be doing in Plain Bob Minor, and attempting to put them right. On a really good day and at the right moment, I can just about tell where two other bells should be!

In the last couple of weeks at practice I have started to call touches of Grandsire Triples. The particular touch is really quite simple — ‘in and out at one, three times’ rung from the 7. This means that you have to call bobs so that you make thirds and go into the hunt, and then call another bob at the next lead so that you come out of the hunt after just one lead; and repeat this three times, which brings the bells back into a plain course. Unlike in Plain Bob, bobs in Grandsire are called at handstroke, and in this touch that means at the handstroke of second place after leading — at which you make thirds and go into the hunt — and then at the handstroke of fifth place on the way down from the back (but really just before your own pull, because it should be timed with the pull of the bell that is in the lead) – at which you double-dodge 4-5 down to come out of the hunt. After coming out of the hunt you next dodge 6-7 down, then 6-7 up, and then next time call a bob to make thirds.

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