Four Shires Guild of Bell Ringers

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Limericks and other Poetic Pieces

Tim Pinner's suggestion for a Limerick competition opened a flood-gate. I realised something was happening when Chris Righton wrote to me with a poetic piece, but, very cleverly I thought, wrote the accompanying letter poetically, too. It's got to be the first one on the page:-

Come to the Church and help to ring,
Perfectly struck, the bells can sing.
Not too fast and not too slow,
Each tower has its perfect ‘Go'.
Joyful music fills the air,
And call God's children
All to prayer.

Dear Chris,

Tim Pinner's effort struck a chord,
Dreamt up above, so as not to get bored.
Am now too old to go out biking,
You won't be surprised I mention striking!

Best wishes,
Chris Righton

Trevor Hobday was close on Chris's heels, as his first came in only hours after:

John Nicholls, our "El Presidente"
Knows bellringing methods aplenty,
So be it single or bob
He's up to the job
When he's asked to conduct a one-twenty.

Trevor was clearly on a roll, as very soon another hit my screen:

The bells of Long Compton, I sigh,
Are hard for our learners to try.
When the ropes become stretchy
Our ringers get tetchy,
And the headstocks are straight as a die.

Yet another came off the Hobday poetry stocks due to an ‘incident', as Trevor described:-

“At the Whichford practice last night, George from Norfolk nearly lost his trousers, and with much hilarity this reminded us of the quarter that Pam Copson called years ago when Rob Harvey's trousers fell down half way through. Rob carried on ringing in his boxers, while the rest of us tried not to crack up completely. As I remember, Pam's words were: "The striking has deteriorated. Pull yourselves together". And we did get it (with some difficulty). Afterwards Rob wore braces as well as a belt.”

As the end of the quarter we keenly awaited
We were by the conductor severely berated.
For Rob's trousers fell down.
And says she with a frown:
"I fear that the striking's deteriorated".

Another poetic piece appears in Offenham's Ringing Room (and in the Bell Tower's). It's by Robert Hall and records an amusing incident one Sunday morning at Offenham a few years back, when we went to ring as normal. We'd risen the bells and had rung for about 15 minutes or so when Phyllis Brazier (who arranged the ringing there then) asked us whether we were enjoying the ringing. The poem describes what happened:

The Ringers of Evesham, a hardy band,
One of the best towers in the land.
After ringing for service at Evesham
They made the journey to Offenham
To ring for that Service was their intent
and that's the reason why they went.
Ian, Chris, Steve, Les, Phyllis and Bob,
They were the ones to do the job.
We rang the bells, the sweetest sound
So folks living all around
Would be reminded on this Sunday
to pause awhile and pray.
As it neared to 11am,
Phyllis with a polite ‘Ahem',
said “Have you enjoyed ringing your bell?
There's something I must you tell.
It would appear that this Sunday
The congregation has gone away.
I forgot to read the Church Notice,
There is no Morning Service!”
The band all laughed as we lowered the ropes,
Although we felt like a band of dopes.
So if you ring at Offenham,
check whether it's Off or On!!

Perhaps I can give you one of mine. It concerns Hastings stays, which are a variation of the normal stay-and-slider system. A number of rings were fitted with them by Taylors prior to the 1970s. When properly set up they are effectively frictionless and an utter delight, but in many cases their extra complication causes them to be misunderstood, with consequently dire results. Here is my contribution (with apologies to Longfellow's ‘There was a little girl'):-


There was a Hastings stay,
that in a belfry lay,
whose design its detractors thought too florid.
When it was good it was very good indeed,
but when it was bad it was horrid!

Those having bells with Hastings stays will recognise the big contrast!

This has been a very amusing and delightful aside to the normal stuff about ringing in these pages. Come on folks, don't be shy. Send your work in!    CMP