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
—x—– Yorkshire 3-4 places up
—-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)
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
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 …0 Comments
Finally a Wednesday night practice at which there were enough experienced ringers to try Cambridge Major, with a reasonable expectation that we could manage it. In fact there were even enough for one of them to stand behind and give guidance – not for me but for someone else who was not too sure about Cambridge.
So we set off, with me ringing the 3 — dodge 5-6 up, backwork, 5-6 down, 3-4 places down, and on we went, and eventually I got to 5-6 places up, dodge up and down and the back, down to the front, dodge down and up, and just about to start 3-4 places up, when the conductor, a visitor from another tower, called ‘go rounds’. I wasn’t sure what had gone wrong, and we were within about a dozen strokes of the end. How frustrating!
Later in the evening we had another go. This time I chose to ring the 2, just for a bit of variation — start by dodging down with the treble in the middle of the frontwork, and then 3-4 up, double dodge up at the back and single dodge down, 5-6 down, 1-2 up, 3-4 up, places 5-6 up. And in the middle of 5-6 places up I got lost, wondering whether I had dodged with the treble or not. So I meandered up to the back, and hung around there a bit, and then wandered down to the front and dodge around there, and just about put myself right. Then 3-4 places up, and dodging with the treble in the middle confirmed that I was now in the right place <phew>.
So on to the backwork (bracketted by dodges up and down in 5-6), 3-4 places down, treble bob at the front, then at the back, places 5-6 down, dodge 3-4 down, 1-2 down, dodge 5-6 up, single and double dodges at the back, <nearly there now, just keep going>, 3-4 down, onto the frontwork, and here we are dodging with the treble, <steady> and <c’mon conductor> ‘that’s all’. Yes.
As usual, there’s a lot that I could do better — better striking, better dodging, better ropesight, especially in 5-6. And, especially, not getting lost! But on the whole I was quite pleased with myself.0 Comments
It’s four weeks since I started trying to learn Cambridge Surprise Major. I reckon I have the ‘blue line’ fairly well memorized — in theory. But putting it into practice is not so easy.
In the first place, actually getting enough others who can ring Cambridge Major is itself quite hard. Of the four practices since I began, at two of them there have not been enough experienced ringers to even try Cambridge Major. At the other two it has just about been possible to find 6 other ringers capable of Cambridge plus one who can treble bob on the treble.
But on each of these two occasions we have managed to get about half way through a plain course before it goes horribly wrong. The annoying thing from my perspective is that this has not been my fault, but mistakes by other ringers. Both times, I have been ringing bell 2, the first time with another ringer standing behind me, and each time, as I was completing the backwork some of those ringing in front of me have got mixed up. Sigh. I’m not blaming them — it’s a reasonably hard method after all. But it is frustrating when I am trying to learn the method myself.
Next week is Ash Wednesday, so it’ll be another couple of weeks before I can try again.0 Comments
It’s quite a while since I began to learn Cambridge Minor, and my teacher asks me each week whether I have looked at Cambridge Major. I keep replying (truthfully) that I haven’t had any time. So this week he had me ring Cambridge Major with another ringer standing behind me and telling me what to do. This is not ideal, but it works tolerably well, since the extensions from Cambridge Minor are not too complicated — it’s just a question of knowing when to do them. Later in the practice we did the same thing again. Neither time did we quite complete a plain course, and that was partly because I managed to lose my place. Not having the big picture of the method, so to speak, does make it harder to ring.
However, having done this, and having briefly glanced at the blue line and Coleman a couple of times, it began to impress the method in my head, and I found that as I drove home from the practice I could just about remember and/or reconstruct the method. So now I am at that state of learning a new method: when over and over again, at the interstices of routine, I find myself reciting the different pieces of work involved — when stuck in a traffic jam, or brushing my teeth, or sitting in a not-too-exciting meeting. This is an important part of learning a new method — committing the pieces of work to memory, so that they can be recalled without effort when ringing it.
Previously I have also committed to memory the actual position at each pull. This time, I have not (yet) tried to do so, partly because just remembering the order of work is sufficiently complicated without adding anything else, and partly because the difficult bits of work (frontwork, backwork, and Cambridge places up and down) are essentially identical to those of Cambridge Minor, and therefore already reasonably well known. The differences are the obvious ones when ringing on 8, rather than 6, bells — the backwork is done on 7 and 8, not 5 and 6; and places up and down must be rung in 5-6 as well as in 3-4.
So, from memory, this is the order of work in a plain course of Cambridge Major:
dodge 3-4 up
dodge 2-and-1 at the back
dodge 5-6 down
lead and dodge
dodge 3-4 up
5-6 places up
treble bob at the back
treble bob at the front
3-4 places up
dodge 5-6 up
dodge 5-6 down
3-4 places down
treble bob at the front
treble bob at the back
5-6 places down
dodge 3-4 down
dodge and lead
dodge 5-6 up
dodge 1-and-2 at the back
dodge 3-4 down
And we can use this information to construct a nice table showing a single lead end of Cambridge Surprise Major. This table is constructed by selecting a bell, e.g. the 2, and tracing its course through a lead. The 2 begins in the middle of the frontwork (having just made 2nds over the treble, so to speak), just as in Cambridge Minor. At the end of the lead the 2 ends up in 6th place, and so we continue by tracing the work from the top again as bell 6. At the end of the lead bell 6 becomes the 7th place bell and we continue from the top, becoming successively the 3rd place bell, 4th place bell, 8th place bell, and finally the 5th place bell, which ends by making 2nds over the treble in the middle of the frontwork, which is where, as the 2nd place bell, we started.
No doubt I shall find myself continually repeating the order of work over the next week or so, and we shall see next week whether I have learnt it well enough to ring a plain course.
Not that that’s the only difficulty with ringing Cambridge Major. Another problem I found last week was ropesight, especially when dodging in 5-6. It’s not easy to see 4 or 5 bells below you at this point. Hopefully, this too is something that will improve with practise.0 Comments
I’ve been ringing Stedman for about a year now, and can generally keep my place — even in touches of Triples. I was quite pleased with myself last night because I was able to put right another ringer. I had dodged 6-7 up with him, and then when I started to dodge 6-7 down he was still hanging around in 6-7. ‘4-5 down now, M,’ I called, and then a dodge or so later, since I thought he still wasn’t sure where he was, ‘Down to the front, now.’ I had to phrase it that way because I had no idea whether he should have gone in quick or slow. But at least it kept the ringing going, and we managed to complete the touch.
That got me thinking, however, about how to know whether to go in quick or slow in Stedman, a perennial problem for Stedman ringers. Steve Coleman calls it Stedman’s Greatest Problem, and offers a number of tips for remembering or working out whether, after you have dodged 4-5 down, you should go in as a slow bell or a quick bell.
One of the suggested tips is to use your feet, moving one foot forward if you go out quick, and then when you are about to go in, looking at your feet and remembering that this foot (or is it the other foot?) means something or other. And if a bob is called you have to remember to swap which foot is forward.
But if you are going to put another bell right then you want to know whether each six is a quick six or a slow six, not just the one where you go down to the front three. What you need to do, then, is to keep track of each six as you ring, or at least as you double-dodge your way to the back and down again.
My first idea was that as you do each double dodge you think, as a background thought: ‘this is a quick six’ or ‘this is a slow six’. But it can be quite hard to keep this in mind — you need to keep it rather nearer the front than the back.
So, this is what I came up with, though I haven’t had a chance to put it into practice yet. I don’t claim any great originality for it, but it seems to me to be sufficiently simple to cope with all cases, and with as many bobs as may be called.
All it entails is that as you count your place when double-dodging up to the back and down again, you append to each position the word ‘quick or ‘slow’. The same word will apply throughout the six blows of a double dodge, and when you move to the next double dodge you swap to the other word.
So, if you have gone out slow, then you would count:
4th quick, 5th quick; 4th quick, 5th quick; 4th quick, 5th quick;
6th slow, 7th slow; 6th slow, 7th slow; 6th slow, 7th slow;
7th quick, 6th quick; 7th quick, 6th quick; 7th quick, 6th quick;
5th slow, 4th slow; 5th slow, 4th slow; 5th slow, 4th slow;
and so go in quick.
If a bob (or a single) is called then you simply move onto the next six:
6th slow, 7th slow; 6th slow, 7th slow; ‘BOB!’ 6th slow, 7th slow;
6th quick, 7th quick; 6th quick, 7th quick; 6th quick, 7th quick;
7th slow, 6th slow; 7th slow, 6th slow; 7th slow, 6th slow;
and you have automatically kept track of what’s going on.
And not only have you kept track so that you will know what to do when you arrive at the front, but you also at any stage know whether a bell going in should go in quick or slow too. So you have more chance of being able to put them right.
Whether this works in practice remains to be seen. One possible difficulty is the tongue-twisting nature of some of these phrases. But you don’t actually have to say them aloud or particularly accurately — just good enough not to get lost. Stay tuned!1 Comment
So finally, some two months after it was suggested that I go away and learn Cambridge Surprise Minor, my chance to try ringing it arrives.
After several months away, my ringing teacher is now back, and Wednesday practices at Hemingford Grey (which we sometimes struggled to maintain in his absence) are once again more complex evenings.
Tonight I walked into the ringing chamber: there were 6 other ringers, about to ring Bob Doubles for someone still learning the method. ‘Right, we’ll ring Bob Minor instead,’ the captain said, and proceeded to call a touch. I was slightly taken by surprise at the first lead end, because I had been expecting a plain course, when he called a Bob. Another ringer arrived, and with eight present we rang a touch of Grandsire Triples. This went quite well, but somewhere along the line the captain and I swapped places, presumably when we were dodging and he was telling me what to do.
Then, after some other ringing, ‘We’ll ring a touch of Kent next.’ Hasty revision of what happens at a bob in Kent. If you’re coming out of the slow or going into the slow you are unaffected; if you are just making 3rds & 4ths up for the second time, then immediately add 4ths and 3rds (so you make 4 blows in 4ths) — this is places down the first time. And if you are at the back then add another double dodge in the place where you are already dodging. I rang bell 4, so made an extra blow in 4th place and 2 in 3rds — 4ths & 3rds down the first time. Then at the next lead end: ‘Bob!’. I was just making places down the second time, so I was unaffected and went into the slow work at the front. And as I came out of the slow, dodging with the treble, another bob was called, and again I was unaffected, making places up. So we carried on, making places up the second time, and then ‘Bob!’, so just about to immediately do places down, but instead ‘That’s all!’ and we had rung three leads of Kent.
Again after a bit more ringing, we turned to Cambridge. I offered to ring the treble, and then added ‘I’d like to have a go ringing inside afterwards’. And so it came to my turn to try Cambridge Surprise. I chose to ring the 3, and the treble was rung by someone just learning to treble bob. We set off: I did the backwork, and Cambridge places down, dodged in 1-2, up to the back, dodge 5-6 up and double-dodge 5-6 down, and down to the frontwork. And as I made 2nds in the middle of the frontwork, it was clear that something had gone wrong, and the treble was lost, and ‘rounds’ was called. We tried again, this time putting an experienced ringer on the treble, and the person who had been standing behind the treble came and stood behind me, but we went wrong even quicker this time. Again it hadn’t been my fault, and we tried again. Backwork, places down, dodge and lead, one and two at the back, frontwork (concentrate, concentrate), two and one at the back, lead and dodge, places up (is he going to call a bob?!), ‘That’s all!’. We had made it, and I had rung Cambridge Surprise Minor at essentially the first attempt.
My minder made two comments: that clearly, I had learnt the method; and that it was a good job I had not missed the sally or I would surely have broken the stay. This was a comment on the brute force with which I had been ringing and controlling the rope. And it was true, I had been pulling hard and checking the rope at slmost every stroke in order to keep my place. I can remember that when I first learnt to ring I would use this brute force technique to ring the tenor, but it’s not something I have done much since acquiring better bell control. Must try and do better next time.
All in all a pretty action-packed practice night.0 Comments
Last Saturday was the monthly bellringers’ district meeting. I’ve not been to one of these before (though I had intended to go to last month’s), but this time it was at Bluntisham, whose bells have only just been rehung so that they can be rung and only a couple of miles down the road. Bluntisham is where Dorothy L Sayers spent her childhood, and where her father, the Revd Henry Sayers, was Rector a century ago. It was here that she watched an earlier restoration of the Bluntisham bells, though not one that enabled them to be rung. Perhaps this stuck in her memory when she came to write her masterpiece, The Nine Tailors. In that book, Lord Peter Wimsey, superhero, takes part in a 9 hour peal of Kent Treble Bob Major. And so Kent was to be the ‘special method’ at this meeting. And as I have had a couple of attempts at ringing Kent I thought that I would have another go.
The bells have been hung lower in the tower than before, in order to reduce the strains in the tower, and ringing is from the ground floor. When I arrive, the bells have just been rung up and are ringing merrily. Inside the church they seem very loud — you’d want to wear ear plugs if you were ringing a peal. A lot of people have gathered for the meeting, from some of the new beginners trying to form a band for the Bluntisham tower, through to experienced ringers. Some people have come from around the country to ring these ‘new’ bells — very few people will have rung them before — from Worcestershire and other far-flung places. That’s a day trip to spend half an hour ringing at Bluntisham before it’s time to head home!
The ringing alternates between Kent and other methods, such as a touch of Bob Major, and simpler ringing, including rounds and call changes. I stand around, listening and watching (and talking to other ringers as I am trying to arrange a band to ring on Wednesday). Eventually, the leader looks at me and says, ‘You haven’t rung yet, what do you want to try?’ ‘I’d like to have a go at Kent,’ I reply. ‘In theory I can ring it.’
So we ring ‘three leads of Kent’, a shortened form of Kent in which a bob is called at each lead end so that it comes back to rounds after just three leads. I had never rung bobs in Kent, but I had done my homework before going to the meeting. Once again I chose to ring on bell 6, which with hindsight was perhaps not the most interesting bell to ring. At each lead end a bob was called and instead of making Kent places down (4ths then 3rds) I did an extra two dodges in 5-6 down. If I had chosen the 4, then at the first lead end I would have been unaffected by the bob and would have gone into the slow (making 2nds place over each of the other bells in turn), and at the second lead end I would have come out of the slow and, again unaffected by the bob, made 3rds and 4ths up, and then at the the third lead end made 3rds and 4ths up again (which is rounds).
I quickly found that the ropes were rather long, and I had to move my hands further up the rope, so that I had perhaps 15 inches of the tail end below my hands. This is not ideal, as I kept getting smacked in the face by it, and I could still have done with taking in a bit more. If I had known this before I started then I could have tied a knot in the rope, or tucked the tail end up on my little finger. But as it was it reduced my control over the bell.
I think the best that could be said was that I didn’t get lost, that I knew exactly what I was meant to be doing, and that I didn’t need the instructions from the expert ringers around me — ‘lead now’, ‘dodge with me now’, and so on, helpful though such comments are. But I clearly need to concentrate on my striking: that is, on making the bell sound in exactly the right place. Although I didn’t get lost in this method, that doesn’t mean that I was placing my bell just where it should be, and I could tell this from my own hands, and with my ears, listening to the bells as they rung. The other ringers were, of course, much too polite to tell me how bad my ringing was.1 Comment
So, we have looked (first here and then here) at the main sections of a plain course of Cambridge Surprise Minor. Now we have to stitch those bits together. This is how it works. We will consider bell 2, which starts in the middle of the front work, as if it had just made 2nd place over the treble. We continue with:
The tricky bits here are remembering the extra dodges at the front and back, and the order in which they come.
We can now do two things. We can trace out the entire plain course of a single bell. Or we can write out a single lead end for all six bells. In fact these are equivalent things, as we shall see in a moment, and the single lead end is a more compact format.
This is what the lead looks like:
At the end of each lead what we have done is to change the order of the bells, and they then do the work that the bell in that place did in the just-finished lead. For example, if we trace bell 2 through a single lead, then it will end up in 6th place, and that means that what it does next is whatever bell 6 did in that lead end. It has become the 6ths place bell. So we can continue tracing the path of this bell by following the 6 through the lead end. We can do the same for each place bell, noting where it starts, and which place bell it becomes:
2, or rather seconds place bell: second half of frontwork, dodge ‘two and one’ at the back; become sixths place bell
sixths place bell: down to front, lead and dodge; places up; become thirds place bell
thirds place bell: straight up to the back and do back work, dodge 3-4 down; become fourths place bell
fourths place bell: make 3rds place at start of places down; dodge and lead; up to back and dodge 5-6 up (start of ‘one and two’); become fifths place bell
fifths place bell: two blows behind and double dodge 5-6 down (end of ‘one and two’); down to lead and begin frontwork; make 2nds over the treble to become the seconds place bell
One other point is perhaps worth noting. In Kent Treble Bob, we always dodged and made places with the same bell in each dodging position (except when the treble was there) — in Kent when you are making 3rds and 4ths up (Kent places) another bell is making 3rd and 4ths down at the same time. But in Cambridge Surprise, the dodges and places are made with a different bell each time — and only one bell is making (Cambridge) places at any one time. It’s a much more complicated dance, all together.0 Comments
In learning the blue line for Cambridge Surprise Minor we have looked first at what happens when you make ‘Cambridge places’. Next we will look at the back work and the front work. (The warning given before still applies: if you are reading this and trying to learn Cambridge, then don’t assume that the instructions here are right. I am doing this from memory as part of my own learning process.)
The back work in Cambridge is like this:
double dodge 5-6 up, lie behind, dodge 5-6 down with the treble, make 5th place (below the treble), dodge 5-6 up with the treble, lie behind, double dodge 5-6 down.
And we can draw this in diagrammatic form, like this:
1—x– double dodge 5-6 up
—1–x two blows at the back
—-1x and dodge 5-6 down with the treble
—-x1 make 5th place below the treble
—-1x and dodge 5-6 up with the treble
—-1x two blows at the back
—1–x– and double dodge 5-6 down
–1–x— and continue
Next, we come to the front work, which is something like this:
dodge 1-2 down, lead full, dodge 1-2 up, make 2nd place, lead full, dodge 1-2 up with the treble, make 2nd place over the treble, dodge 1-2 down with the treble, lead full, make 2nd place, dodge 1-2 down, lead full, dodge 1-2 up, and continue.
Got that? Perhaps a diagram will help:
–x—1– start with a dodge 1-2 down
–x—1– and dodge 1-2 up
–x1— make 2nd place
x–1— lead again
1x—- dodge 1-2 up with the treble
1x—- make 2nd place over the treble
x1—- dodge 1-2 down with the treble
x1—- and lead agan
–x–1— make 2nd place again
x—1— dodge 1-2 down
–x—1 dodge 1-2 up
—x—1 and onward
Now we have each of the components of Cambridge Surprise Minor. We just have to put them together, along with a few more dodges and some plain hunting.0 Comments
I went yesterday to practice at Hemingford Grey. Although the tower captain there is away on an extended holiday, this is still a weekly gathering of more experienced ringers. At the end of the practice I was asked, ‘What method are you learning at the moment?’ Hmm, I thought, ‘Nothing really, busy running practices and teaching some beginners.’ Back came the suggestion ‘You could start having a look at Cambridge.’
So, I had a quick look at Cambridge Surprise Minor in Steve Coleman to see what is involved. I also glanced at Cambridge Surprise major, and quickly decided that I’d concentrate on Minor for now. If the Hemingford captain were around he’d probably throw me into the deep end with Major (as he threw me into Stedman Triples and Kent Treble Bob Major without first trying Doubles and Minor).
Anyway, after reading what Coleman has to say on the subject, the next step is to commit this to memory, and part of that process is to regurgitate it here. (Warning: if you are reading this and trying to learn Cambridge, then don’t assume that the instructions here are right. I am doing this from memory as part of my own learning process.)
We can divide a plain course of Cambridge into several pieces of work: the front work, the back work, and the places, which combined with a couple of other dodges, and some pieces of plain hunt, make up the method.
Coleman calls the places the most difficult bit, but they looked fairly easy to remember to me (though perhaps not so easy to remember when ringing, of course). Places are made in 3-4 up and in 3-4 down. Cambridge places in 3-4 up work as follows:
dodge 3-4 up, make 4ths place, make 3rds place, dodge 3-4 up, make 4ths place, make 3rds place, dodge 3-4 up
That’s it. Cambridge places down are the exact opposite of this:
dodge 3-4 down, make 3rds place, make 4ths place, dodge 3-4 down, make 3rds place, make 4ths place, dodge 3-4 down
If I remember correctly, then the dodge in the middle of the places work is made with the treble.
So, we can build a skeleton diagram of this, showing the treble and the bell making places.
First, Cambridge places up:
—x–1– dodge 3-4 up
—x1– make 4ths place
—x–1– make 3rds place
—1x— dodge 3-4 up with the treble
—1x— make 4ths place
1–x— make 3rds place
1—x— dodge 3-4 up
1—x– and continue
And secondly, Cambridge places down:
–1–x— dodge 3-4 down
–1x— make 3rds place
–1–x— make 4ths place
—x1— dodge 3-4 down with the treble
—x1— make 3rds place
—x–1 make 4ths place
—x—1 dodge 3-4 down
–x—1 and continue