[r-t] Going where angels fear to tread...

Giles Blundell grblundell at googlemail.com
Tue Jun 10 12:03:33 UTC 2014

Those of you who know me will know that I am no theoretician. And those who
don't know me will be able to conclude as much from my absence from
composition or advanced ringing.

But my line of business is as a civil servant, which means that I spend
quite a lot of my life trying to understand and interpret legislation. And
in some ways, the CC's Decisions are legislation. So could I perhaps make a
few comments on what we should be looking for?

When Parliament produce legislation, they generally try to do one of two
things - either they rewrite the existing law to make it easier to
understand, or they produce new law to govern us in a new way. And I would
emphasise they try to do *one* of two things. If Parliament tries to both
rewrite existing law and produce new law at the same time, everyone gets in
to a dreadful muddle.

I think we're beginning to get to that point with this discussion: on the
one hand we're arguing about what a peal, a method and so on should be, and
on the other hand we're trying to say how this information and regulation
should be delivered.

On the one hand, it's probably more important that we should end up with a
set of decisions that allow what we want, but on the other hand it seems to
me that in practice would it be a lot easier to make the changes if we
started off with a workable framework in which to fit our revisions?

So perhaps I could make some suggestions about the structure we should be
looking for.

There seems to be consensus here that the Decisions should not be
prescriptive but descriptive. There also seems to be consensus that it is
important that we share a common language. Unfortunately to share a common
language without prescribing what words mean what is (as far as I can tell)
close to impossible. So I would suggest that we get over trying to solve
this conundrum and just live with it. That would mean having a Decision
that gives us definitions - in this note I'll call that the Definitions.
The Definitions would contain the (prescribed) meanings of words which are
important to us such as row, change, peal and method. I suspect (but have
not yet gone far enough with my thinking to confirm this) that the
Definitions would also include much of the Decisions on method extension.
For the moment, please note that at this point I'm not trying to move on to
what the definitions in the Definitions should be, although my personal
choice would be for a fairly minimal definition of a peal to be used.

Much of the discussion has been about what is recognised as a peal, which
to me, in effect, seems to mean what is included in thePeals Analysis. So
as well as our Definitions, I think we need a further Decision to say that
the Peal Records committee will prepare a Peals Analysis. Since this is
something which already happens, I don't think anyone need to worry about
this too much.

But at this point we run into the conflict between rewriting and producing
new legislation. In terms of producing new legislation, I would like this
Decision to say that the Analysis will include any peal reported to the
Peal Records committee (which is covered at the moment by saying that the
Analysis reports peals published in the RW). I would also like to add
something that might read like a restriction but which is intended to be
permissive - namely that the report to the Peal Records Committee should
include enough information - either using the terms in the Definitions  or
otherwise - to enable a third party to reconstruct the rows of the peal and
satisfy themselves that it met the Definition of a peal. That is, we would
not restrict the reporting of a Peal to terms given in the current
Decisions: if you must resort to submitting a spreadsheet of the rows rung
to demonstrate what was rung then that is what you can do.

And that, in terms of Decisions, I think is more or less it. We have a
simple structure to understand and which is capable of later amendment, so
it should be fairly robust.

There is one side issue though. A plan rather like the one I've given seems
to have no role for the Methods Committee, whose terms of reference are 'to
consider and advise on all questions arising from the interpretation of the
Council's Decisions relating to methods, calls, and peal ringing.'  So the
Methods Committee could be abolished. But I do think that we could make use
of a Decisions Committee, with terms of reference of something like 'to
consider the making of amendments and deletions to the Decisions of the
Council to remove unnecessary material'. A further Decision that mandated
the Peal Records Committee to let the Decisions Committee know about any
peals that had not been reported only using the language in the Definitions
would give the Decisions Committee a valuable role in working out how the
Decisions should be revised to improve our common language. That is,
instead of the Methods Committee deciding to reject a peal after it's rung
and before it's included in the analysis, the Decisions Committee would
decide how to improve the decisions to make it easier to report repeat or
similar performances of peals after they have been rung and after they have
been included in the analysis.

I hope this is helpful: if not, I'm sure you'll tell me why, or let this
contribution sink into obscurity.


Giles Blundell

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