[r-t] Roger Bailey

Philip Earis Earisp at rsc.org
Tue Jan 22 18:30:04 UTC 2013

I am very sad to learn of the death of Roger Bailey earlier today.  Roger was a maverick, a hugely interesting and entertaining man it was always a joy to spend time with (and spar with). He was mischievous, forthright, kind, and blunt, sometimes all simultaneously. Ringing is much poorer for his passing.

He of course had a strong interest in composition and ringing theory, and indeed it's hard to summarise his immense contribution. 

Perhaps influenced by his south Lincolnshire connections, he greatly enjoyed the history, traditions and development of spliced minor (including a wild passion for Woodbine Delight). He was a long-time member of the Methods Committee of the Central Council and had clear and forthright views in many areas. Paradoxically both a traditionalist and an anarchist, Roger provided support and logical underpinning for one of the big and impactful liberalisations of recent times, the green light to ring minor in multi-extent blocks. Indeed, two of his most frequently-rung compositions are on this plan:

5040 Cambridge Surprise Minor 
No. 3 
2345  F  T  W  H 
3245     s  2  - 
5342        -   
2435  -     3  3 
5243     s       
3425  -     3  3 
Repeat twice. 

1440 Plain Minor 
2345  W  H 
5243  -  3 
4325  S  - 
5423  -  3 
3524  -  3 
3245  -  2 
Two part. 
True to Plain Minor methods with 2nds place lead end.  

Right up until very recently, Roger was still trying to elegantly arrange 210 treble-dodging minor methods into a peal length.

His compositions were often pragmatic, achieving the desired results in simple ways that served the purpose.  This can be seen in his very straightforward extents of Bob Triples...

5040 Plain Bob Triples
23456  W   M
63254      2
25436  3*  -
3* = - - s.
Repeat eleven times, adding a bob Home in parts 2, 4, 8 and 10, and a single home in parts 6 and 12.

...and his 'universal' compositions for treble-dodging major, which he often used for calling handbell peals in new major methods. Roger rang over 3000 peals, including (according to Pealbase) 1361 in hand, of which he conducted 823. He's 5th on the all-time list of handbell peals rung, and successive generations of handbell ringers were taught, mentored and heavily influenced by him.

5600 Treble Dodging Major
23456   W   M   H
64523   2   -   -
62345   -   2   2 
Repeat 4 times. True to methods with leadheads ade and falseness BDEKabcdef XYZ, provided the W-M leads are clean to falseness DEK.

Whilst the compositions have a clear manual logic, Roger, formerly a Senior Lecturer in Computing at Imperial (in his inimitable words "a small technical college in London's French quarter, where my principal activity used to be teaching students to ring handbells"), was also a pioneer of computing in a ringing context. More of Roger's multi-extent minor blocks are on his website at http://www.ringing.info/multiblocks.html, and indeed ringing.info has developed over the years into a very valuable resource, with information and links in so many diverse areas. I hope this can be sustained going forwards. Roger was an extremely personable chap, and his interest in composition, computing and the theoretical side of ringing are shown in his friendship with Brian Price. This has led to many important ringing papers being available online, and much interesting information and anecdotes preserved. I'd encourage everyone to take a look at http://www.ringing.info/shaggy.html if you haven't seen this.

I haven't scratched the surface of Roger's contribution to ringing theory here, let alone his unique and wonderful character.  He was no great fan of this mailing list, and expressed his views forcefully at times.  Here is a particularly entertaining excerpt from a late-night rant to the ringing-chat list that he sent in February 2006, at a time when I was volubly advocating reform of the CC Decisions on methods:

"...Let's look at you to start with. You get elected to the Council and so to the MC. Not because you have any track record of doing anything useful, or because you have any bright ideas, but purely because you appear to be the personification of impatience with the status quo, and thus appeal to the sort of sniggering half-wit that mostly fills the chat-list -- people (I use the term loosely) who never invented any campanological idea of lasting consequence, but who spend their entire time up their own arses on the theory list, telling each other how wonderful their ideas are and dissing everyone else. In short, people who are still young enough to know everything. If they weren't bellringers, they'd be out vandalising bus shelters. Wasters, the whole bloody lot of them..."  

I'm sitting here with a sad smile on my face, hearing Roger spout these words and picturing the twinkle in his eye that he had when delivering such views.  When we rang, drank and talked together in the months and years after this, we would often bounce provocative ideas and quote these words and imagery of bus-shelter vandalising and so forth to each other. I'll miss him a lot.



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