Handbells and doodles
Last night on Twitter I labelled my blog entry ‘brainblasted’ which doesn’t leave me anything for tonight. There were going to be handbells at Niall’s house tonight and I’d originally said I’d come. Tuesday night handbells are usually half across southern England and I don’t have the time, especially because if I went I’d be hitching a ride with Niall and I hear dark rumours from Colin about handbell evenings not breaking up till past 10:30*. But then the Stedman last night pretty well knocked me out and I also heard from Colin that it was going to be a mob tonight. I don’t do mobs. Tower ringing is different when it’s one ringer = one rope and I personally can pick up quite a lot standing behind someone ringing something I want to learn.** There’s nothing that teaches me handbells except ringing the suckers or Pooka, and if it’s Pooka I can do it at home and furthermore no one is expecting me to make conversation between touches. So I emailed Niall today ordering him to tell me truthfully how many people were coming tonight, because I know Niall of old, and he thinks everyone should be ringing handbells all the time and there’s no point in hoping he might let you off. He wrote back no, no, it was not going to be a mob and I had to come. I do not have to come, I replied. You do! he wrote. Or I’ll cry!
Oh, the dilemma. I wonder if I could have got Colin to provide photographic evidence?
Anyway, after I stopped laughing I was too weak to resist further. So this afternoon was a hammered-on-the-hot-anvil-of-intellectual-tribulation while I rested from PEG II with frelling handbells on Pooka and rested from handbells with frelling PEG II. Something that is becoming more and more of a problem*** is that as I begin to ring more than bob minor on handbells I’m having trouble keeping all the ratbag methods separate in their little abysses of brainsuck. Adding bob major on was just about cope-with-able, because it’s the same pattern as bob minor, you ‘just’, in the fine old bellringer’s parlance, you just add two bells. Gah. But it’s true, what you flounder in in a more-bells version of a method you already (sort of) know is different from what you flounder in when it’s a whole ghastly new method that you’re learning from scratch. This is accentuated in handbells as most things are accentuated in handbells. But I’m now trying to ring bob minor, bob major, St Clements, which, okay, is a plain-bob type method (but EVEN SO) . . . plus multiplicitously-frelling Cambridge minor, and Grandsire triples.† Grandsire is one of the basic methods but it’s a rogue; it’s put together unlike pretty much anything else, and the crucial awfulness for handbell purposes is that the zigzagging that makes a method a method usually occurs while the treble leads, but in Grandsire’s case it happens after the treble leads . . . which is HIDEOUSLY CONFUSING since one of the bricks you’re resting your handbell foundations on is learning to scrabble out of your daze of confusion† when the treble leads and frantically do something else.
But I had made the fatal error of wistfully mentioning Cambridge because while we’re beating the h—I mean, giving Gemma the time and practise and encouragement she needs as a beginner, the three of us are not ringing much for us, and somehow this led to my agreeing to Colin and me coming half an hour early tonight so we could have a whack at Cambridge before everyone else arrived. With the result that my brains were already melting out of my ears before we began on the bob major, which I haven’t rung in . . . months.†† Because the 3-4 pair is my speciality and no one else wants to ring the 3-4††† I rang it the rest of the evening which was about ninety hours long. . . . And then Niall said brightly, oh, Robin, before you go‡, wouldn’t you like to try the 3-4 to Grandsire which you told me you were practising? Well . . . yes.
Meanwhile . . . I told you I’d give you some clue, for the auction, what you’re getting into with my definition of ‘doodle’. This is what you’re getting into. A ‘thanks’ card will feature a doodle. The ‘illustrated’ books will feature . . . a certain amount of creative marginalia, and probably some kind of gleep on the title page. But here, as examples of what happens when a writer goes to the bad, is most of an evening’s silliness—grown increasingly silly over the course of two glasses of cheap fizz. I leave you to decide which are the more alcohol-fueled.
Note that after I hung this post, when I clicked on the photo the first time the little magnifying glass with the plus sign in it did NOT appear. So I tried again and it did. So it’s worth trying a second time if your computer/broadband/town is suffering from gremlins.
* I have a blog to write
** A lot of people can’t. Penelope says standing behind is useless for her.
*** Everything is a problem with PEG II.
† Remember that because of the unique horror that makes handbells handbells, ie ringing two method bells, learning each pair in a method is virtually like learning a whole frelling new method. In the tower, with ONE bell, you only have to learn ONE line, plus where in the pattern each bell starts. Each pair of bells in handbells overlaps within the pattern differently.^
^ This—probably—works out eventually when you start ringing bobs and singles, which further screw up what you’re doing. But learning the plain course of a method requires as much more work than in the tower as there are pairs of bells. This is why handbell ringers are rare and even crazier than tower ringers.+
+ You are? Nonsense. You’re deluded.
†Spitting brick dust, to maintain a dubious metaphor
†† Yaaaaaay Pooka!
††† Inside pairs are always the bigger ratbags. So in a major method with eight bells you’re going to have a rush of people for the 1-2 and the 7-8. I originally made myself learn the 3-4 just to stack my chances of ringing more. This turns out to be a double edged sword.
‡ Yes. I left first. It is nearly one a.m. as I write this. They are probably still ringing. I will have to consult Colin tomorrow about how long they went on. If I ask Niall he will have ‘forgotten’.
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