A few weeks ago, as part of an on-line discussion of Dorothy L Sayer’s Nine Tailors, I sat down and taught myself Kent Treble Bob (and Oxford Treble Bob for good measure, though that doesn’t appear in the book). On Wednesday I finally got a chance to try this out, at practice at Hemingford Grey. We set out to ring a plain course of Kent Treble Bob Major. I chose to ring bell 6 (because I reckoned that bell 6 or bell 4 would be easiest to keep my place — see below), but there were a number of complications. First, the ringer of the treble had never done any treble bob hunting before, but she did have an experienced ringer standing behind her to help; secondly, at least two of the other ringers were not entirely comfortable with Kent.
Why did I choose bell 6? Because, at the start, after dodging with bell 5, bell 6 next dodges in 3-4 down with the treble, and this means that next two times you find yourself in 3-4 down you have to make places (4ths then 3rds) rather than dodging, and after this second time you immediately dodge with the treble in 1-2 and go ‘into the slow’. All the bells have to do this, but 4 goes straight into the slow from the start, and 6 next time; the other bells have to wait longer for this to happen — more time for a beginner to miss this important work.
So, off we went, and I was pleased that I managed to keep my place throughout, and so did the treble. One of the other ringers was a bit wobbly, but what really threw us was that the conductor — naturally trying to keep track of what these inexperienced ringers were doing — himself went wrong, telling me, for example, to dodge with him in 5-6 when I was in the slow (but I was sure I was right and ignored him). Still, we managed some 5 or so leads of a plain course (which would be 7 leads in total, I think). During those 5 leads I had done all my ‘hard’ work — making places down, doing the slow work at the front, making places up — and was into the ‘ordinary’ work — dodging in 3-4, 5-6, and 7-8 up and down. We immediately had another go at a plain course, but — for the same reasons — this was less successful than the first.
So I was quite pleased with myself: I had rung most of a plain course of Kent Treble Bob Major, and it wasn’t my fault that it had gone wrong!