Thinking allowed

learning London Surprise Major

Hav­ing more or less suc­cess­fully rung a Plain course of Bris­tol Sur­prise Major last week­end, it’s time — like Dick Whit­ting­ton — to turn to Lon­don: Lon­don Sur­prise Major, that is. Lon­don is the last of the “stand­ard eight” Sur­prise Major meth­ods, and Cole­man describes it as the zenith of stand­ard sur­prise. But he also sug­gests that it is easi­er to learn than Bris­tol, and strongly recom­mends learn­ing it by place bells. Oth­er Lon­don web pages seem to agree, one sug­gest­ing learn­ing pairs of place bells togeth­er, as in each pair one is the mir­ror of the other.

The order of the place bells is the same as for Rut­land and Bris­tol: 2, 3, 5, 7, 8, 6, 4; with the pairs being: 2 and 4, 3 and 6, and 5 and 8; while 7 is sym­met­ric about the half-lead end.

There are a few famil­i­ar pieces of work:

  • Sted­man whole turn, which occurs only on the front
  • fish­tails, which occur at the back (8–7‑8), and also both ways in 5–6 — 6–5‑6 and 5–6‑5
  • plain hunt­ing below the treble — but plain hunt­ing “wrong”, i.e., lead­ing with back­stroke then hand­stroke (“back and hand”) rather than hand­stroke then back­stroke (“hand and back”)
  • treble-bob hunt­ing above the treble, some­times “right” and some­times “wrong”

When you meet, or are about to meet, the treble you have to get back into phase with it, either to pass it, or to dodge with it. You do this by mak­ing a place, or by doing a Sted­man whole turn, or doing fishtails.

Anoth­er point to note is that the 4th-place bell and above all start in the oppos­ite dir­ec­tion com­pared with most meth­ods learned so far. So even bells (≥4) go out, and odd bells (>4) go in. The 8th-place bell strikes an extra blow at hand­stroke in 8th place before going down.

Oth­er than that it seems that the only way to learn this is by place bells, which we do in the full article.


1x------

Start­ing as the 2:

x1------
1x------
x1------
x-1-----
-x-1----
-x1-----
x--1----
-x--1---
--x--1--
---x1---
---x-1--
--x---1-
-x-----1
x-----1-
x------1
-x-----1
--x---1-
---x---1
----x-1-
----x1--
----1x--
----x1--
----1x--
---1--x-
--1----x
---1--x-
--1----x
-1----x-
1----x--
-1--x---
1--x----
1-x-----

Become the 3

-1x-----
1--x----
-1--x---
--1--x--
---1x---
--1--x--
---1x---
---x1---
---x-1--
--x-1---
-x---1--
x-----1-
x------1
-x----1-
--x----1
---x---1
----x-1-
-----x-1
-----x1-
-----1x-
----1--x
-----1x-
----1--x
---1---x
--1---x-
---1---x
--1---x-
-1-----x
1------x
-1----x-
1----x--
1---x---

become the 5

-1-x----
1-x-----
-1x-----
-x1-----
x--1----
x-1-----
-x-1----
x---1---
x----1--
-x--1---
--x--1--
---x--1-
----x--1
-----x1-
-----x-1
------x1
------1x
------x1
------1x
-----1-x
----1-x-
-----1-x
----1-x-
---1-x--
--1-x---
---1-x--
--1-x---
-1---x--
1-----x-
-1-----x
1------x
1-----x-

become the 7

-1---x--
1---x---
-1-x----
--1x----
--x1----
--1x----
--x1----
--x-1---
-x---1--
x---1---
x----1--
-x----1-
--x----1
---x--1-
----x--1
----x--1
---x--1-
--x----1
-x----1-
x----1--
x---1---
-x---1--
--x-1---
--x1----
--1x----
--x1----
--1x----
-1-x----
1---x---
-1---x--
1-----x-
1------x

become the 8

-1-----x
1-----x-
-1---x--
--1-x---
---1-x--
--1-x---
---1-x--
----1-x-
-----1-x
----1-x-
-----1-x
------1x
------x1
------1x
------x1
-----x-1
-----x1-
----x--1
---x--1-
--x--1--
-x--1---
x----1--
x---1---
-x-1----
x-1-----
x--1----
-x1-----
-1x-----
1-x-----
-1-x----
1---x---
1----x--

become the 6

-1----x-
1------x
-1-----x
--1---x-
---1---x
--1---x-
---1---x
----1--x
-----1x-
----1--x
-----1x-
-----x1-
-----x-1
----x-1-
---x---1
--x----1
-x----1-
x------1
x-----1-
-x---1--
--x-1---
---x-1--
---x1---
---1x---
--1--x--
---1x---
--1--x--
-1--x---
1--x----
-1x-----
1-x-----
1--x----

become the 4

-1--x---
1----x--
-1----x-
--1----x
---1--x-
--1----x
---1--x-
----1x--
----x1--
----1x--
----x1--
----x-1-
---x---1
--x---1-
-x-----1
x------1
x-----1-
-x-----1
--x---1-
---x-1--
---x1---
--x--1--
-x--1---
x--1----
-x1-----
-x-1----
x-1-----
x1------
1x------
x1------
1x------
1x------

and become the 2 (which is rounds)

1 comment

  • Simon Kershaw says:

    And the quarterly dis­trict sur­prise prac­tice came round, and I got a chance to try ringing Lon­don Sur­prise Major.

    I rang the 3, and we got through three leads, so I rang the 3rd place bell, then the 5th place bell and the 7th place bell. As I came to the end of the 7th place bell my mind sud­denly went blank and I wondered which place bell I was about to become. I decided, wrongly, that it was the 6th, but it should have been the 8th. So I did two blows at the back, which is the same in either case, and then star­ted fish­tails at the back (essen­tially dodging 7–8 up). “Fish­tails in 5–6‑5” I was quickly told, but before I had a chance to put myself right, “Rounds” was called — appar­ently anoth­er ringer was lost, and the con­duct­or gave up.

    Unfor­tu­nately we didn’t get to try Lon­don again, so I shall have to wait for anoth­er occa­sion. I sup­pose the good point to take away was that I had rung the first three leads pretty well, and if I hadn’t had a men­tal block would have car­ried on.

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