Four Shires Guild of Bell Ringers

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I'm sorry if this Newsletter reaches you slightly later than is normally expected. Helen and I went on holiday at the end of June, so the content wasn't finalised until early July. We went to northern France. We stopped at a village a short distance from Calais, where the market was in full swing and the carillon of the church alongside the Square was playing tunes continuously for at least the 45 minutes we were there. Nobody seemed to be concerned about the 'noise' of the bells — it was obviously how Bourbourg operated. I guess if anyone complained, they would be told in typical Gallic terms — and without fear of reprisal — that if they didn't like it, they should go and live somewhere else. One wonders why such logic and direct communication quickly dilutes as it travels across the English Channel….

I hope you liked my April Fool in the last Newsletter and weren't too offended if you were taken in. What's that you say; you didn't know there was one? Well…er… it was the front page article, about the 120 ton bell in Budapest. I'm afraid there's no such thing. I made it all up for the occasion. I'd hoped the date on the front might just have helped: it did say 1st April at the top… and there was a hint in my Editorial (what's that again; you don't read my Editorial!!?). However, the photograph is absolutely genuine — this bellshaped roof exists. I took the photo when Helen and I were on holiday in Budapest a few years ago. I thought it would make a good spoof article. Well… I thought it's now or never, so just had to do it.

There was a hint of another AF, too, but unfortunately it was an error on my part that led to this one. I could say the omission of 16 Down in El Presidente's crossword was an attempt to make it harder (El Presidente has said to me on more than one occasion that he thinks his crosswords are embarrassingly easy…), such that the real challenge was to determine the correct wording of the clue. Not so, I'm afraid. I just overlooked typing it in. Ah well, there's no crossword this time, as El Presidente has produced a mind-bender for your delectation — with a genuine prize (see El Presidente's puzzle).

Did you ring to celebrate St George's Day on April 23rd? It was frustrated this year by being on Easter Saturday, when convention dictates no ringing. The subject was further enlivened by the rather timely article forwarded to me by Tim Pinner, about the Badsey ringers appearing in court for the offence of ringing in Holy Week for a wedding (no, no; Hilary and John weren't hauled before the Bench. It was long ago.) To complement this I asked the Guild Chaplain, Patrick Wooster, to explain the Holy Week situation.

The Royal Wedding came and went, with many thinking it was a good day. Bells played a great part in it, with our towers ringing quarters - and a peal, even (Royal Wedding Ringing). This latter was significant for two reasons: firstly it was a Guild peal and therefore can be seen in the Exercise's peal records as the Guild's contribution to the happy event; and secondly — and more importantly — it was the first peal for the Guild's much-loved Ringing Master, Sophia Lewis-Skeath, who had vowed never to ring a peal, because she just didn't think she could. I don't know who put the pressure on her, but whoever it was did an impressive job! Sophia rang brilliantly throughout — and never showed signs of flagging.

Your Central Council reps attended the Council Meeting at Hereford on May 30th and a report of this by brand-spanking-new rep Keith Murphy appears in Central Council Meeting 2011 Report. It wasn't the first meeting the Guild attended in its own right, which was last year when Andrew Gunn took a seat after the Guild was voted onto the Council, but it was the first in which its reps took their seats from the start as of right.

The situation concerning unintended false touches that occurred in the Newing Shield Striking Competition has been considered by the Committee at their recent meeting. A new rule has been formulated to clarify this. (See Notices: Amendment to Rules) Conductors take note!

While you might think the Guild's AGM is a long way off (October 15th), it is the July issue that carries all the information about it, because the October issue appears in too short a time beforehand to give adequate notice. You will see the Notice of the meeting, and there is another equally-relevant notice concerning proposals that will be made on behalf of the Committee at the meeting. They are changes to the Guild Rules to take place immediately, and a rise in subscriptions from 1st January 2012. Additionally, nominations are required for the various Officer posts for 2011-2012, so, as last year, nomination slips are attached to this Newsletter. Mike Rees, the Guild's Hon Treasurer, indicated at last year's AGM that he would stand down at this one, so nominations for a new Guild Treasurer will be required — unless, of course, Mike relents!

Wendy Mace has once again organised the Guild's Walking Tour, to be held on Saturday 1st October. Full details are in the Notices: Walking Tour. Looks like a leisurely hike along the Cotswold edge, with the promise of some excellent views.

This is the second reminder that the job of Newsletter Editor is up for grabs. I'm available to discuss the requirements of being the Editor of this august journal. Again, no one has contacted me. Do, please, remember that I am departing after the January 2012 Newsletter. It isn't the hardest of jobs (I've done much of the hard work in setting up the format), but some time is required. See the advert on the Tag End. Do not think there is a dearth of material out there and therefore there will be nothing with which to fill the Newsletter. It somehow keeps coming in.

Chris Povey

(The views expressed in this Newsletter are not necessarily the views of the Four Shires Guild or its Committee. The Newsletter was proof-read by Richard Lewis-Skeath.)