I love junk food. We were having a discussion about McDonald’s in the pub the other day and it turned out that quite a lot of people that you would never expect also love McDonald’s. They even have “favourite” MaccyDs where they always stop on long journeys to visit families etc. One person has an app with McDonald offers on tap. A guilty secret indeed. As well as burgers, I also love cheap pizza, chicken in a bucket and French fries, but I don’t eat them except as a rare treat perhaps once a year. I don’t eat them because about 5 minutes after the last yummy, salty, greasy bite I begin to regret it. I know that I have just filled my tummy with rubbish and that I am going to be sorry for the rest of the evening. Sure it was wonderful for the brief time that I had it in my mouth, but once swallowed it would neither nourish nor sustain me.
I think that I am beginning to feel the same way about tower bells in the Ringing Room. It is wonderful as you participate and during lockdown it kept many ringers, including myself, engaged and enthusiastic, but for me it is junk food. I find that it does not translate to real life and leaves me confused and dissatisfied with my real life achievements. I know that this is not true for everyone, but for someone at the start of their ringing career, swanning around and rattling off touches of fairly advanced methods is not sensible. I am sure that for those ringers who have years of experience and can actually ring these things in the tower, there is no harm done and even progress can be made, but for someone like me it is not healthy to gorge for hours on things that are totally unattainable. A little in moderation is acceptable, but too much can be bad for your health.
It has taken my return to ringing to bring this home to me. In a real tower, on a good day, I can just about manage to treble to a plain method, but in my heart I want to ring inside to Cambridge, preferably the tenor and if I missed out a bob when making seconds I could call a neat little touch. In the virtual world I can, but in reality I am years away from such cleverness. To describe this as annoying is an understatement.
I know that I need to be sensible and practise what I can do, rather than devote hours to what I can’t manage yet, but it is tempting to just go online, find some friendly folk and waste a few hours pretending that I can ring all manner of things that are way outside my league.
Hence, recently, when I could have been hanging out at an open practice where we often start with some “easy” Stedman triples and work up from there, I could be found practising Kent minor on Abel – again and again and again, because IRL if you intend to call a quarter on handbells there is not enough time to fanny about with virtual Bristol, even if it is delightful.
Perhaps, like McDonald’s I will allow myself a sneaky virtual feast every now and then, but as a treat, not as a main meal. It is pointless to struggle with indigestion for no good reason, but how I miss the satisfaction of being accepted as a bona fide ringer, rather than a somewhat incompetent novice.
A shame, but necessary.