I rang Grandsire Triples inside for service at the abbey this afternoon.
It doesn’t get better.
But that’s not the whole story.
The funny thing is that this time last week I didn’t think I was going to be doing any Jubilee ringing. I have zero interest in or support for* the Queen’s Jubilee, Diamond, papier-mache or leopardskin chenille, but I’m a strong believer in bells being part of community events, and this is certainly an event. But I’m also nowhere in particular’s ringer at present, nor am I a good enough ringer that I’m going to be top on anyone’s list of alternates. But, as I’ve said often enough in this blog, this area is short of ringers, so you probably won’t fall entirely through the cracks unless you want to.**
. . . I think I forget where the beginning is. What I haven’t been telling you because I haven’t decided where I’m going with it is that a certain limited repatriation is going on at New Arcadia. I rang a wedding for which Niall organised the ringing, and I knew about a second funeral there was going to be ringing for but didn’t know if I’d be asked. *** Then I got a very polite note through my door from the admin asking if I’d be interested in ringing the funeral, the Jubilee afternoon, or the Olympic thingummy Monday night at Old Eden. I’d again already said yes to Niall for the Olympic thingummy, and—again—I positively wanted to ring for the funeral, and at that point I thought the abbey was going to be ringing a forty-eight bell triple peal of Evil Buckingham Corgi and that there was nothing there for me, so I said what the hell. Then I found out that there was the usual Sunday afternoon open ringing at the abbey and I howled, because I’d much rather ring at the abbey for all sorts of reasons, but having said yes to New Arcadia I wasn’t going to say no. I did check when I was ringing the funeral and was told that they were having trouble making the numbers—I’d genuinely thought there might be semi-ex-ringers coming out of the woodwork to ring for the Jubilee—and that I was absolutely needed. So no help there.
And then I got another note through the door saying that because of predicted downpours various services were being rearranged to be inside rather than outside, and that one of the knock-on effects was that our Jubilee ringing was now at ten a.m. YAAAAAAAAY. Sometimes the (ringing) gods are kind.
So all was well. And then I got back to the cottage, extremely late Friday night, and a trifle stressed after the day I’d just had, to a phone message from Colin saying, we’re ringing a quarter peal late Sunday morning and I’m short a ringer. How would you like to ring treble to triples?
Eeeeeep. I don’t ring quarters (except occasionally accidentally on handbells). It’s only the treble! I thought. I can ring the treble (probably)! So I thought about it, but I also knew this was Colin trying to hustle me into a slightly more emphatic engagement with the whole ringing thing—he knows that I don’t like not belonging to a tower and am wistful about not ringing quarters. He could find another treble. But he was asking me. So I tested my energy levels as you might test a dubious-looking rope bridge over a ravine, phoned him back at a (decent) hour and said yes.
At which point it belatedly occurred to me that if I was ringing service for an hour at ten o’clock and a quarter peal at a tower half an hour away at 11:30 . . . I had a hellhound problem. I was going to have to walk them before the 10 a.m. service ring. And I was still planning on ringing at the abbey in the afternoon.
I got up early. I hurtled hounds who, while always happy to be hurtled, were deeply suspicious of the change of schedule and were all over me as I slunk out the door at 9:57. We rang nonstop for the hour because you only get diamond or leopardskin chenille jubilees occasionally but also because the tower admin was worried that the schedule had been changed so late the village wouldn’t know what was going on, so our bells were shouting HERE! HERE! HERE! Meanwhile, the weather has cooled off somewhat, thank the (various, including ringing) gods, but it’s been raining in a sort of random and uncommitted manner, which means that it’s gruesomely muggy, and not only ringing chamber but ropes and sallies are damp and sticky. By the end of the hour I had a pretty good range of incipient blisters and I was looking at them—and remembering what Colin’s ropes are like, which is to say, uggh—and thinking, I’m going to be bleeding by the end of the quarter, which will make the rope very slippery. . . . And I am still going to the abbey, even if I have to wrap my hands up like Boris Karloff in The Mummy.†
We got the quarter. ::Beams::
Not, I admit, without the odd stumble from yours truly (sigh). We were ringing bob triples which is a very straightforward method and on the treble all you have to do is count up to seven and back down again for pity’s sake but . . . I’m not used to bob triples, let alone not being used to ringing quarters. BUT WE GOT IT. I wasn’t even bleeding. Although the phrase ‘steam bath’ comes to mind.
So I bounced home†† CHIRP CHIRP CHIRP CHIRP CHIRP and was promptly mobbed by hellhounds again. Guys. You had a perfectly good hurtle earlier. But no. Extreme baying from the kitchen when I went upstairs to fetch my Insanely Heavy Knapsack™, so I took them for another brief hurtle to convince them that they were still my first priority.†††
With the result that I had time for about one eighth of my lunch‡ before I had to give Wolfgang another opportunity to behave as a paradigm of cars that start and sprint for the abbey. Again I thought we might be overwhelmed by ex- and/or semi-ringers who wanted to pull a rope for the Jubilee‡‡—but there were only eight of us. I looked around and thought, oh good, brownie points—I want brownie points. And then Og, the Scary Man, who was in charge, said, Grandsire Triples, Gemma, you ring the treble. —???? I thought. He’s going to put me on the tenor? I can ring tenor-behind, although I haven’t done it to triples much. For people with a sense of rhythm it’s dead easy—you just stay last. For those of us who do not have a (usable) sense of rhythm and therefore have to pull every frelling blow consciously, ringing the tenor can be a bit challenging. And we were ringing one of the middle eights, so the tenor was a not-insubstantial bell, which is to say heavy.
Then he looked at me and said, come ring inside.
And I did it. It was (again) not without the odd stumble (also repeat the sigh). But I DID IT.
CHIRP CHIRP CHIRP CHIRP CHIRP CHIRP.
* * *
* No, that’s inaccurate. I have a strong anti-interest. Except for the method-bell-ringing barge which I think is fabulously cool. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/the_queens_diamond_jubilee/9293191/Queens-Diamond-Jubilee-bell-ringers-rehearse-on-Thames-barge.html
I’m sure there’s more recent coverage—like, today—but this is what Google is offering me at the moment. And no, I don’t long to have been one of the ringers. I am so ratty a handler that the idea of trying to ring on a rocking boat with the wind going whizz whizz whizz doesn’t even work as a fantasy. Also, it would mean hanging out with a lot of people who think the Jubilee is hot.
** Wolfgang is behaving in an exemplary manner, beginning with the wedding yesterday. No one had answered my frantic email but the organiser, who hadn’t been planning to ring herself, being fully occupied with laying on the village Jubilee party^, turned up in case of shortages, and while we were waiting for the very, very, very late wedding to be over with so we could ring and go home,^^ we were talking about the local situation. Sox Episcopi is so short of ringers—and to keep going at all they’ve combined with two other towers—that they’re in breathing-them-in-the-face threat of having to stop ringing their bells entirely. This is so sad.
^ I like her anyway. I was knitting, of course, to some interest/amusement from the rest of the band, and Melody said that her grandmother had taught her to knit and that she’d knitted like mad when her kids were little but had fallen out of the habit and should probably take it up again.+ Her grandmother, she said, was amazing, and could knit a sweater in a weekend. I am very slow, I said apologetically, suiting the action to the words. And she said instantly, But it’s not about speed, is it? —Thus earning my undying friendship and eternal loyalty. Well, no, it isn’t about speed. But I’m much more accustomed to people telling me not to worry, I’ll get faster, or trying to show/tell me how to get faster, which I think is (mostly) well meaning but a bit of a bummer. Yes, of course I’d like to be faster, but I like knitting and I’m not sure but what if I learnt to be really fast it would just turn into another thing that I’m frelling manic about. One of the things I like best about knitting is the soothing quality. Like when you’re waiting for the effing bride to effing show up.
+ Yes! Yes!
^^ supposing our cars started
*** Means by which you do not want to be repatriated
† Which wouldn’t have worked, of course. Bellropes are notorious for ripping off bandages.
†† Wolfgang continuing to start instantly
††† After SHADOWS.
‡ At least the frelling hellhounds ate their lunch
‡‡ The country, or this end of it anyway, is covered in posters and bunting. I have cause for assuming that everybody but Niall, Penelope, Peter and I are totally into it.
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