CCCBR President’s Blog #9

I used to play golf on a course where the 15th hole was tantalising close to the club house. I usually wanted to stop at that point – I was tired, I was probably approaching 100 shots, and had resorted to using the lake balls in the bottom of my bag. Basically 18 holes was too long.

If the concept of peals being 5000 changes had never been instigated, what length of ringing would we set for our upper target of performance? I asked this question online last weekend and it got some fascinating responses. Quite a lot of people suggested something around the 3000 changes or two hour mark – long enough to get sustained good striking, but short of the fatigue zone.

It wasn’t an original question. Albert York-Bramble raised it in The Ringing World in 1955, the same year he founded his ground-breaking, and short-lived, “College of Campanology”. He advocated 3000, although the reasons at the time were based on needing to prevent the general public opposing excessive noise from church bell towers in the days before sound control.

No one could claim excessive noise from a church bell tower at the moment! Coming up to nine weeks without ringing ☹. The primary outlet for releasing our ringing urges, ringingroom.com, is surging in popularity (an urge surge?). It passed 1000 users a day last week, and its developers, Bryn and Leland are working hard. I was surprised to be name-checked in a fascinating podcast interview with Leland which can be found (along with others) here. If you listen to it you will learn why the Brumdingers’ motto is now #embracethechaos …

It was of course particularly disappointing not to be able to mark VE Day with bells. That was such a good opportunity to provide a soundtrack to national celebration. I hope you heard the Funwithbells Podcast that was recorded specially for VE Day – it has 30 ringers telling the story of bells in the war, and is extremely interesting. I was pleased to be able to read a letter the President of the Council wrote to The Ringing World, apologising to the public that after five years of no ringing the ringers should be forgiven for being a bit rusty!

There are more and more people making progress on handbells who would not have done so without lockdown. Young ringers Toby Hibbert and Kate Jennings rang a quarter of Bob Minor in ringingroom.com within a month of taking up virtual handbell ringing, and the Read family in Jersey enabled Hannah and William to ring their first in hand (real bells) for Jersey’s Liberation Day.

Back in the virtual world, one of the young ringers I am teaching handbell ringing to explained “ringing two is easier than ringing one because if there’s a problem with the internet both your bells are late by the same amount.” Not sure I quite followed that but it was positive thinking from a 10 year old!

Graham John posted a wonderful photograph of stacks of motion controllers being mailed out to budding online handbell ringers. Unfortunately this is not going to last long because the controllers that work best are discontinued – the manufacturer must be intrigued by this late sales blip!

Rebecca Banner and her son Dan made a bellringing simulator game in Roblox, the online gaming platform. Apparently they are working on something much more complicated aimed at teaching non ringers to ring! Sounds like an entry for the ART Awards if that one comes off.

Who wants to know about insurance? Of course you do! Once a year SMWG hosts a meeting with Ecclesiastical Insurance, which insures most churches in which we ring. This year’s call was via Zoom, robbing me of a trip to Gloucester. We are fortunate that Marcus Booth at Ecclesiastical is a ringer, and he has now been joined by another ringer, Becca Meyer, as a graduate trainee (great minutes Becca!)

The launch of the YouTube competition exceeded expectations. I was actually a bit nervous about it but with a small team comprising Neal Dodge, Simon Edwards and Ros Martin, and various levels of risk assessment and management, we got it launched. Entries are starting to come in for the first category – Best Striking on 6 bells.

Talking of YouTube videos, the Council’s Comms & Marketing team rushed out a short video to explain why bells are silent, in response to a suggestion on Facebook.  If you have a route to a local church, parish or village/town website please can you try and get this posted there?

Roger Booth has released the first four (maybe five by now) of his video tutorials on using Abel. I watched the first two and was amazed how little of Abel’s capabilities I actually use. The first one can be found here.

In the same week that the Council’s Guidance note on ringing and COVID-19 was published, lots of ringers watched a live streaming of the funeral of Andrew Stubbs, a well-known ringer who made an enormous contribution to ringing across multiple fields. The coronavirus took Andrew from us, and ringing will be the poorer for it.

I am really enthused that we are continuing to attract ringers with skills and talent to help with key initiatives. One of the two latest to step up to the plate (another next time) is Dickon Love, who becomes a Dove Steward, bringing his immense energy for ringing to the role. In the words of the Dove team he will “be leading the project to migrate Dove onto new technology and will be seeking opportunities to make the Dove data more widely used and appreciated.” When I asked my daughter Charlie why she thought the database of towers was called Dove, she said “is it because a Dove can fly over towers and see where they all are?”

Cripes, I have had to bump seven things onto Blog #10 as I have hit my word limit.

Simon Linford
President, CCCBR

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