I have not been participating in the Ringing Room handbell practices recently. Now that we are back out and about, other distractions pop up – we can ring our handbells together in person if we would like to, we can go out to lunch with friends or visit an exhibition. Suddenly, there are so many possibilities and I have been neglecting the Friday Clinic, where a disparate group of ringers, at all stages of handbells, and from all over the country/world, turn up and encourage each other. I had forgotten just how rewarding it is.
This week I reconnected after a month or more gap, and I am so glad that I did. I had already been for lunch with friends, but it was local so a 2pm ringing start was still possible. I had only drunk 2 little glasses of bubbly stuff. Enough to make the fingers trip along nicely, but not so much that speech was slurred. I was waiting for family to turn up for their summer holidays, so had no intention of dashing off out elsewhere.
We started with just 3 ringers and Kent was suggested. I offered to call 240 from my on-going attempt at calling my first quarter. Monday’s real life effort had us ringing 1800 or so rows, and me lacking the experience to bring it round because although we had sorted ourselves out and rung the last 240 quite nicely, something had clearly gone wrong earlier and the only way I could think to bring things to a conclusion was to continue for another 480 rows. Even then there was no guarantee that it would ever reach a tidy end. This is where my inexperience as a ringer and a conductor really shows. I have absolutely no tricks up my sleeve to sort things out once we are wrong. A good clear run and between us we now have the stamina and skill to succeed, but if two bells swap and remain swapped for more than a short time, we gaily gallop off in the wrong direction, sorting ourselves out so that the ringing sounds OK, but skipping or repeating chunks that has me all of a dither as to what to do as a conductor. Therefore, the chance to ring some of the quarter with other people was too good an opportunity to ignore.
We got along fine, rang the 240 and the other 2 seemed to enjoy themselves. Since no-one else had turned up, it was suggested that we started at the beginning and rang until we ran out of steam. I was in two minds – what if all went swimmingly and we actually scored the quarter peal? I suspected that the other Belles might be a bit put out, since I have made them clang along to Kent on my behalf for weeks and then they would be denied the chance to join me in my triumph, when certain boxes would be ticked and the ART handbell scheme completed. I decided that if, by some fluke, we were to be successful we would have to keep quiet about it, until after I also scored it with my loyal companions . This would be a dry run only, whatever the outcome.
Luckily, I did not have to face the moral dilemma because a 4th person turned up, allowing us to shift to major, but what if they hadn’t?
Anyway, it was a lovely way to spend 90 minutes and given that not everyone has the luxury of local real-life handbell ringers to play with, I must make sure that I turn up every week to hang out. Lots of hard work by quite a few people has gone into learning how to the ring the little bells, and they deserve a band to ring with , even if it is remotely and one of the conductors is a bit flaky.