A scratch team is a team of people bought together on a temporary, often one-off basis, composed of players who normally play for different sides.
I wanted to ring something for World Peace Day and some helpful people suggested we tweaked an existing method and named it appropriately. This done, we needed a band – an online band because, having come up with the idea, decided what to tweak and thought about how to tweak it, it would be rewarding to actually ring in the first ever performance of Give Peace a Chance Delight Major. Naturally I can not ring anything so “advanced” in real life, but a virtual tower is always open and my ability to treble with one finger is reliable. At a stretch I could even learn the line and take an inside bell if 7 competent ringers could not be found, but I would offer no guarantees that I would not lose concentration and go gallivanting off in the wrong direction. I have never attempted a QP in the Ringing Room on tower bells, perhaps because no-one has ever invited me to have a try.
Therefore 7 ringers capable of learning something new quickly and striking well with one finger was required. I could promise that the treble would be where it was supposed to be. However, not all ringers enjoy virtual towers, and just because you are a Proper Peal Ringer in a physical tower, it does not automatically follow that you will be capable of keeping the rhythm going and staying in the correct place when it comes to computer ringing. It is a different skill set entirely. Luckily for me, it does not depend on excellent handling and the ability to follow the correct rope. Instead, an aptitude to count one’s place and to spot any shenanigans in front of you is required. Sometimes one must hold one’s nerve and “do the right thing”, even when ringers with 50 years more experience are faffing about. I lack many ringing skills, but I can hold my nerve and count to 8.
So who are the band? I am delighted that they are a near perfect mix of everything that is good about ringing. Half are ladies and half are gentlemen. I do hope that the ladies do not all end up on the “lighter” bells because there is no need to do so. Some of us are young and some of us are more mature. One pair is a mother/son combo. One lives in the USA. Others come from diverse places in England (sorry, Scotland, Wales and Ireland, and the Antipodeans will be in bed). Some know each other in real life, some know each other in the virtual world, some have never met each other in any environment. At least one is a teacher/pupil partnership. Most have been ringing a very long time, but one has not. One is almost exclusively a handbell ringer and rarely enjoys access to a tower. Come to think of it, most are handbell ringers, which may or may not be relevant. Some are friends, and some probably don’t like each other that much. Two share a surname but are not knowingly related. Some have rung thousands of Proper Peals and one has never rung anything except a qp covering to plain bob doubles (or perhaps it was Grandsire?). All of us seem to wear glasses or lenses. We span the range and depth of ringers, but when it comes to ringing as a band I don’t think that it will matter one jot nor tittle. We have all seen the composition, we have all committed to doing our best and we all know where and when to meet up to make our attempt. That is all that is required. Eight individuals who want to try to Give Peace Chance.
The only disappointment is that, given our various geographic locations, we will not be able to trot across the road for a celebration/consolation pint afterwards. Although perhaps the Norfolk contingent might manage it, not that the three of us have ever rung together in the same tower. Perhaps it is time that we did.