January 3, 2013



Oh, never mind the future of the blog for a minute*, I want to tell you about tower practise at the abbey tonight.

We were kind of a scrappy crowd, with too many of us middling-or-less ringers and not enough of the lofty and resplendent.**  I did get to ring a touch of Grandsire Triples, and it was not a great occasion but I held my line when other people were losing theirs, which is always very good practise if you survive.  And we rang some plain old plain hunt on lotsa bells which is not exciting*** but is useful for grinding away at learning that too many frelling bells rhythm for us rhythm-challenged.

And that was beginning to look like that was going to be that for me, and I was thinking sullen thoughts about the plain course of bob major I could have rung in but wasn’t asked† when Scary Man called for Cambridge major.  Siiiiiiiiigh.  Only the lofty and resplendent ring surprise major.  And they all seized their ropes, Scary Man taking the treble . . . when they realised they were one short.  Oh, we can’t ring it, said Scary Man.  There was a brief pause and then he turned round to us:  Gemma, Charlotte and me.  Unless one of you would like to ring the treble.

Gemma had just rung a practise touch of Stedman Triples†† and Charlotte is being a little cautious about getting to grips with ringing at the abbey.  Also, Gemma, who is generally a better ringer than I am†††, hasn’t quite caught on to treble-bobbing, which is what you do on the treble to surprise methods.  I, on the other hand, am relatively secure treble-bobbing to minor (six bells) and have been LOOOOOONGING for the chance to treble-bob to major (eight bells).  I have never treble-bobbed to major.  Never.

I stepped forward and grabbed the rope from Scary Man.  Yes, I said.

Well, you see where this is going.  I wouldn’t have headed it YAAAAAAAY if I’d bollixed it up or broken a stay or otherwise humiliated myself, and was signing up right now for a bookbinding course.


I’m not hopeless.  Even at the abbey.‡‡

* * *

* Although in answer to the anxious emails about KES . . . not to worry.  I have every intention of going on with it.  KES indeed is one of the reasons I feel I can risk messing with the blog’s format.  Saner, more intelligent people than I am—Blogmom and my agent for example—repeat that they don’t understand why I keep saying I have to post every night, that if I have the self-discipline to post every night why can’t I expend less self-discipline and post less often?  Because I’m an all-or-nothing obsessive, is why.  Next question.  But KES really wants me to write it.  So that’ll help keep me coming back to the blog, however the New System shakes down.

** Marilyn, looking around, said, I think a lot of people made a New Year’s resolution to come to tower practise more often.  Including me, she added.  —I haven’t seen her there since I started coming regularly some time last spring.  But her two daughters are now old and tall enough to start learning to ring—Isolde, the older one, has wanted to learn since she was about two and shorter and lighter than a hellhound—so they may indeed start coming regularly.  Aglovale was (kindly and patiently) teaching them tonight and Marilyn was standing at the opposite end of that vast room with her hands over her face saying I can’t watch!  I can’t watch!  (Which seems to me entirely sensible.)  Isolde has inherited her mum’s Maths Brains and will be ringing Spliced Surplus Surplice Maximus by the end of the year, and I will have taken up bookbinding.

*** Except when you screw up and have to fall on your sword again

† Generally speaking if it’s something you’re learning or can’t ring reliably you wait to be asked.  You only ‘fill in’ if you know what you’re doing.

†† Yaaaaaaay Gemma

††† She’s rung a quarter of Grandsire caters.  TEN bells.  Aaaaugh.

‡ Mind you it was not the most perfectly struck plain course of Cambridge you have ever heard.  And most of the clanking was me.  But I never got lost—I never got yelled at—and while when we’d started Scary Man had said, Be nice to the treble, catch her eye when you’re bobbing with her, almost none of them did:  only Scary Man himself and Aglovale.  Mostly I was On My Own.

The thing about treble-bobbing is the pattern is minimal:  for every two steps you step back one before you go on.  You do have to cling to that like mad but that’s all you have to remember.  It’s all in the frelling RHYTHM which as I keep saying I have not got.  I’m used to the rhythm of six bells, so I can treble-bob to minor.  Probably the biggest reason I’m taking AEONS to learn to ring Grandsire triples reliably is because I’m not used to any eight-bell rhythm, either triples with the tenor-behind or major when all eight are working bells.  I have stood behind the treble’s shoulder for a lot of surprise major on practise nights at the abbey and I have thought I should be able to do it—as I say, I’ve been longing for a chance to try—but—frelling eight bells.

But I DID IT.  I DID IT FIRST GO.^  And even if I screw up next time I’ll know I can do it.

^ Although one other point I need to make in all this unseemly gloating is that this was a good band.  I was the weak link.  When you’re essentially being shuffled along by all the other bells being in the right place it does make it a lot easier.

‡‡ And Scary Man came round at the end and congratulated Gemma for her touch of Stedman triples and me for my treble-bobbing to major.  You never looked like you were in trouble even once, he said to me.  ::Beams::  He must be taking sensitivity training.  He didn’t even scold me for my ragged striking.


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