I wanted to mark Remembrance Day with ringers. I feel it is important to maintain the symbols of community remembrance, even if it is made impossible in the flesh. Since ringers are an important part of my community, I could think of no better way to mark the 102nd anniversary of the 1918 armistice than by some ringing . Towers are closed and meeting up with 2 or more handbell ringers would be a criminal offence, so it would have to be virtual.
There is a new feature on the Ringing Room app that allows the host to half muffle the bells – essentially the handstroke sounds and the backstroke is an eerie echo, like someone sounding a bell underwater. It only works on comparatively newly built towers and since the Reedham tower has been up almost since the introduction of the app, I had to create a new space for our remembrance ringing. On saturday night I constructed an Eastern Branch Remembers ring (not too arduous – the press of a button sufficed) and invited members of our local branch of the NDA to join me at 10.40am on sunday for a ring and to observe the 2 minutes silence together. Many people read the post on our facebook page, but only a few turned up. I realise that some were tolling at their towers or attending zoom services or services at war memorials (that were not advertised as services since services are not allowed), but even so it was disappointing to accept that only a handful of local ringers wanted to mark the solemn occasion together. Or perhaps they were marking it together elsewhere in their own virtual tower gatherings, but I suspect not. All the razzmatazz 2 years ago for the Ringing Remembers campaign seems to have been more about recruiting hobby ringers who enjoy swinging a bell, rather than a desire to serve the church or local community.
Anyway, we were 5 and able to ring doubles if someone took both the treble and the tenor which a few of us are quite good at these days, and we rang very nicely. At the end we had a go at diminishing rounds on 10 half muffled bells (one bell drops out at spaced intervals until only the heaviest bell, the tenor, remains ringing alone), leading up to the tenor tolling in solemn majesty until the stroke of 11am announced itself on my screen. Our ringing was far superior to anything that we might have managed in the tower. Everyone stood their bell at the first attempt and the ringing slowed down pleasingly as the number of bells diminished. We then observed the silence together until I caught the sound of the Last Post drifting through my open door and we went on with our day.
It was only a symbol. No-one heard us. There was no glory. But it was important to me, so thank you to the 4 individuals who chose to remember with me. Let us hope and pray that next year we will be back in our real towers. I bet that if we try ringing diminishing rounds on 10 in reality we will make a pig’s ear of it and no one could possibly interpret it as a mark of respect. But even so, that would be our intention.
Another Ringing Remembers recruit here, who also rang online for the Remembrance Sunday virtual service, fingers crossed next year we will all be able to ring in our tower/s (I usually do 2 service rings on a Sunday Morning).