I am sure a few of you are eager to hear how my 80 years young recruit is getting on?
I found him at the wake for a mutual friend, re-introduced him to bells via the very easy-going Noddy bells at the Mancroft Ringing Discovery Centre in Norwich, re-integrated him into the community when he fortuitously was introduced to someone who trained at the same tower as him, although a few decades apart, and yesterday took him to his first proper tower practice since the early 1960s.
How did he do?
The answer is “remarkably well”. We had the foresight to ask an experienced teacher to come and stand by just in case it was nothing like a riding a bike and the sally went everywhere. He was the “comfort blanket” or as someone suggested the larger than life-sized teddy bear, a reassuring presence to boost confidence, ready to rescue or at the very least say the right thing at the right time to avoid the need for emergency action. I know all about comfort blankets. I often appreciate one myself, although everyone says that I don’t need one, if I feel that I do need one, then surely I do? Just the awareness that someone with more experience is paying particular attention can calm nerves if you happen to be of a nervous disposition.
Our newest recruit was clearly nervous. To take a rope after all that time and in a tower with a long draught, bells that are not that easy to ring and in front of a random assortment of strangers who may be your new band takes courage. What if it all goes pear-shaped and the muscles refuse to remember what to do or go on strike in protest at the unfamiliar sequence of movements?
They did not and bells were rung, call changes were executed and we finished on a grand finale of Grandsire Doubles with our newest (yet oldest) band member covering as if he had never been away from a tower.
I do like it when a plan works out. That is one more for our merry band although I fear he will outgrow us very soon and require more than we can offer.
My advice to ringers everywhere is to keep looking. There are lapsed ringers to be discovered. You just have to have a nose for them and be prepared to be put in your place should you misread the situation. People give up for a reason, but sometimes they forget the reason and are thrilled to re-engage.