[r-t] Re: Decisions

Robin Woolley robin at robinw.org.uk
Fri Dec 31 11:27:35 UTC 2004

This is a sort of reply to Don Morrison's points.

Philip Earis, Graham John and probably a few others won't like this, but to
understand the current Decisions one needs a knowledge of history. A good
starting point is to read the Change Ringing History series, which probably
now won't be continued, but what we have is interesting enough. (Somewhere
it mentions that Variable Cover was rung in 'antient' times and discarded -
nothing changes, does it?)

First point. In the 'old days', methods were rung by rules. To ring a
method, one learned 'the duty of the bells' and listening to your bell was a
very important skill. In fact, I have seen it argued that 'Ropesight' in the
Jasper Snowden series was an innovation - ropesight was unknown before this
and all change-ringing was done by listening. (As with most of my memories,
I cannot immediately remember the source). Certainly, rules were paramount.
Then, someone (Gabriel Lindoff?) invented place notation - as an aid to
writing down methods compactly. (This would probably be before ropesight,
thinking about it.) As we all know, a piece of wood about three feet long
can be used in several ways. A disabled person can use it as a support and
it can be used to beat someone's brains out. (Or even cut in two to make two
stays, but I digress.) In the same way, place notation has been turned from
a simple way of encapsulating a method to the situation where a method
cannot be rung unless its place notation can be written down. I read in the
CC minutes that Dixon's Bob Minor is an example of this.

Second Point - Extension. In the old days, c 1950, the rules on extension
were set up according to what had been extended - in fact, a very small
sample, but the committee give the impression that they were agreeably
surprised that, contrary to belief, many more methods were extendible by the
rules. These rules were comparatively easy to understand and only advisory -
I have forgotten when they were made compulsory. Now the rules are at best
unworkable and at worst laughable. They are unworkable due to Decision
(G)B1. Consider the average 'Sunday Service Band', which includes consultant
psychiatrists, retired University lecturers, etc. What would their reaction
be, on ringing an eight-bell extension of their 'own' six-bell method that
it wasn't allowed the name, but they could ring an indefinite extension that
starts at stage 28 and goes up by 24 stages each time?
Let's quote Tony Smith again: "The amendments mostly increase the range of
possible extensions,..." This is being economical with the truth. Whilst
true, in fact it decreases the number of extensions which actually will be
rung and, as far as I can see, the aim is simply to regularise the position
of Superlative-12.
Sometimes I get the feeling that those who comment on extension have never
read anything on it! For example, pabs refers me to the current (out of
date) CC guidance to extension. This is identical to my copy dated September
1995 by Roger Bailey which itself is a simple expansion of an article at
RW89/563 by Peter Niblett. In the current guidance it says "..there could be
two candidates, Y Royal and Z Royal, both contending to be extensions of X
Major. In this case we have to try extending Y and Z further -- to Maximus,
14, 16 and so on -- using the same technique that we used to get to Y (or Z)
from X. If one extension technique seems to go on "for ever",... then this
is to be chosen as the official extension path." This is not the adivice
given with respect to Roker-S8.

Thirdly, some time ago, I conducted our little band in a opposite-half
spliced extent of these two methods: x1x1.5; 2nds and x1x1x25.5; 2nds. In
the 'old' days we would have had an unfettered right to name these. What's
the position  now?

In conclusion, Don, we have seen a steady erosion of our rights as ringers -
those which fifty years ago they would have taken for granted.

Best wishes


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