Gary Marsh reports from Barton Stacey Practice Night

The last time I popped into the Barton Stacey practice was just about a whole year ago I’m embarrassed to say. In the same benefice as my home tower of Wonston, and for the sake of a ten minute blast up the road, my ringing could have progressed at pace. Saturday practice at Wonston, Wednesday practice at Barton Stacey . Could have been a good rhythm. Anyhow, summer is here and I’m stretching my wings as you will have seen from my previous Ringer’s Write-ups.  Nicola Plummer, of Barton Stacey came along to our Wonston #ringingremembers recruitment open afternoon a couple of weeks ago to lend a hand which was really nice of her, and it was good to see her and the rest of her band last Wednesday evening on their home turf.

Just as welcoming as a year ago they accommodated my ability and gave me handling tips. A little bit of trebling on Plain Hunt, a bit of covering at the back. Rounds and call changes. I’ve been struggling with Tennis Elbow for a while now and it was nice to be able to ring steadily on fresh bells with other eyes looking at my technique. Thanks to Mark for renaming my ailment as Treble Elbow! Feels like a battle scar!

Visiting new towers can be a daunting experience as you know or remember. As awkward for the home team as for the visitor. I don’t think there’s a single right way to go about it but there’s definitely a wrong way to get through the first phases of contact. In my own experience of running social support groups, working with volunteers and vulnerable adults, creating an opportunity for proper introductions, getting a baseline of respect, learning a few key names is the bare minimum that both sides should expect. My thanks to Elayne on this occasion for making that happen so promptly and positively. (I’m still angry and always will be angry at the ignorant prat of a year ago who made my wife cry when, as very green ringers, we visited our first non-home tower elsewhere in the district.  Prat won’t recognise himself from this, my scribing. Bullies rarely identify with their own behaviour. But if I see, I’ll tell him). I digress.

I took my photos for this Ringer’s Write-up whilst the regular band exercised themselves on new and old methods. Bellringing photography is always challenging given the typically medieval lighting levels found in ringing chambers. For a leisure activity that calls itself a “performance art” why do we tolerate such abysmally dark arenas? When I say “we” I mean “you”. Wonston doesn’t and I shall write separately about the impact a 30quid lightbulb upgrade has had.

Thanks Barton Stacey, my friendly neighbours. I came in to ringing to increase my circle of friends. It’ll be that structure, purpose and maintaining those social skills of teamworking and relationship building that will limit the risk of social isolation as my years advance. And visiting other towers means I get to choose where I spend my leisure time and with whom.

Gary Marsh, Wonston Tower, Winchester District

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