Four Shires Guild of Bell Ringers

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A Means to an End

No doubt we have all at some time scratched our heads, argued fervently with our opposite number, cursed, and adopted an attitude 'I shall never overcome!' (As an example, have you ever tried putting together an 'easy-to-assemble flat pack'?)

It is unfair to write at length about a subject close to my heart, but I have in my possession the bellringing trials and endeavours of the late Doug Whitfield (two fully written exercise books), which clearly indicate how difficult it is to overcome learning something 'new', particularly at an advanced age.

Doug was a delightful character. He regularly attended tower practices, and when proficient at handling a bell attended Church Service ringing. His books are a revelation. The initial difficulty of handling a bell, ie basic hand and back stroke requirements, progressed into rounds and eventually to learning a couple of methods, is identified with his graphics. I find some of his comments amusing — BUT this was his way of a 'means to an end'. Examples are:-

Listen and count, one, two, ME, four, five, six.

My bells sounds when my hands pass my nose going up.

When I ring the third bell, ie in sequence, two ropes must pull before me.

When leading, follow the tenor sound (DONG).

Number of bells, pass treble, NAY ONLY USE if treble is right.

He achieved his objective through sheer persistence, both theory and practical. The page upon page of pencil written notes must have occupied many, many hours.

So, Douglas proved that you can achieve. Go on then! Go to the garage and retrieve that discarded 'flat-pack'. Have another go!

John Kinchin

PS. One of the exercise books (cost 9d in old money; 4p in new money) contains a set of conversion tables. Next time I visit my local I shall order 0.568 litres. I'll bet that'll fool them!

PPS. It was with great sadness that I learnt of the passing away of Audrey (Doug's wife) shortly after compiling this article – quite coincidental I assure you. Audrey was a lovely lady, always wishing to pass the time with a chat on a chance encounter. A few years ago Audrey wanted her small front garden tidied. She particularly required an unkempt tallish tree felled. I obliged – without planning permission! The expression of joy that overcame her on completion of the task will remain in my memory forever. Now I can see people coming and going at Greyrich from my window, she said. Thank you for passing Doug's records on to me, Audrey.