[r-t] Methods Committee proposals

Don Morrison dfm at ringing.org
Fri Apr 29 13:35:53 UTC 2016

On Fri, Apr 29, 2016 at 6:49 AM, Giles Blundell <grblundell at googlemail.com>
> The papers for the CCCBR meeting are available at
> The Methods Committee has made 4 proposals.
> Comments, anyone?

This is certainly interesting.

First a general, positive comment: In every case I think the Committee
shows it has been listening to much of what folks have been saying, and I
applaud the effort to liberalise things. This is clearly a positive step,
the most encouraging I can remember, ever. Bravo!

I am, however, saddened, with how this continues the tradition of the
Methods Committee developing its proposals in what appears to be secret,
without any engagement with others over their details, and then suddenly
launching them shortly before a Council meeting as a finished product. Even
reading the summary of the recent Administrative Committee meeting in the
RW just two weeks ago I saw no hint that these changes were coming. I think
it would be better to have a more open process, where wrinkles could be
worked out collaboratively ahead of time.

It is a little alarming to see that these for the most part continue the
tradition of advancing by growing the length and complexity of the
Council's decisions. The goal should be to shorten and simplify them.

Some of the thoughts and concerns I have about some of the specific
proposals follow. All of those which are concerns it would have been good
to deal with, or at least air, earlier, before they were presented as a
finished product to the Council.

1) The various amendments that allow incomplete extents, while an
improvement, seem still to be oddly, arbitrarily restrictive. If I am
reading things correctly, they allow only adding a shorter-than-an-extent
touch. As has been seen in the quarter peal community for decades, many
bands enjoy ringing interesting lengths by using MEBs that subsume such
shorter-than-an-extent touches. For example, why is a 5570 of Cambridge
Minor, formed by ringing five extents plus a 1440 and a 530 allowed, but a
5589 of Cambridge Minor, formed by ringing six extents plus a 1269
forbidden? That said, it is clearly an improvement, and I don't see that it
causes any harm (unlike the confusion sowed by the recent adoption of
non-method blocks), so I think it should be adopted, but revised next year
to allow partial MEBs, too. It would have been better to have it revised
this year to allow partial MEBs, but attempting to do that during debate at
a Council meeting seems a surefire recipe for getting the wording wrong; it
is far better for that to happen deliberately, with an open, transparent
process, and sufficient time to think and revise.

2) I am delighted that the arbitrary restriction on the number of blows a
bell can remain in one place is being relaxed. I'm intrigued by the
"continuously lead or lie" business: it allows a bell to remain in one
place through the course of a method, but only if it is at an interior
place. So, as an example of good news, Martyr's Link, used in a quarter
peal in Cambridge about a year ago, would now be considered a method if
rung in a peal. I wonder what the rational is for making leading and lying
places subject to stronger restrictions, and still relegating such methods
to non-method status?

A more pressing concern, though, is what to do with all the methods that
were formerly classified, and named, as non-method blocks, but which would
now be bona fide methods? I doubt the band that named methods things like
"Chip Off The Old Block Minor" and "Round The Block Minor" would have
chosen to name them "Chip Off the Old Bob Minor" and "Round The Bob Minor".
Although I do suspect they will, in general, approve of the disappearance
of this antiquated*, arbitrary restriction :-)

Similarly, what happens with older methods that were suppressed by the
Council, such as Caunton Bob Doubles? I hope they come back into the fold.

3) I am delighted they will now allow quarter peal ringers to name methods
at stages above minor, and am pleased to see it is being allowed with a
minimum of fuss and bother, not requiring any definition or regulation of
quarter peals. I do quibble, however, with the requirement that triples be
1260 or longer rather than 1250 or longer. The wording would be simpler if
it were simply 1250 or longer for all stages, and quarter peal ringers do
frequently ring 1259s and 1251s of triples, though given the infrequency
with which new triples methods are rung, it seems unlikely that this
restriction will cause much difficulty in practice. I am sad that quarter
peal ringers can't name methods in spliced, but that has long been the case
with minor, too. Sad, too, is the seemingly completely arbitrary
restriction that quarter peal bands can name methods, but not non-method
blocks. Although I believe the correct solution to this last problem is to
eliminate the whole notion of non-method blocks, by eliminating the few
remaining restrictions that classify methods as non-methods.

4) Allowing calls not just to decrease, but also to increase, the length of
a lead seems quite sensible. It is, however, still oddly, arbitrarily
restrictive, in that it allows only the insertion of new changes between
two existing changes, rather than the replacement of changes by a longer
sequence of changes. There are perfectly plausible calls that will still
have to be fudged by pretending they're two or more different calls applied
to the same lead, or something silly like that.

5) I'm delighted the bizarre prohibition of peals of minimus in hand has
been lifted. While I don't really see the need for an umpire for a one
person peal of minimus, I understand that others do, and I certainly
understand, if not agree with, the motivation for this restriction. Might
it be possible for the Council to now recognize peals rung in the past in
this fashion? I believe Frank King rang a peal of minimus by himself, with
an umpire, some years ago which the Council did not include in its analysis
(or whatever the term used then was for not recognizing things). And why is
an umpire the only way to address the underlying concern; for example,
would not making a video of the performance and posting it on YouTube
address the concern as well, or potentially better?

6) Being more squishy and subjective, it's going to take a while to get my
head around the last proposal, but on the surface it is certainly exceeding
positive. I particularly laud "That the Council agrees that these
definitions should reflect current ringing practices and also that they
should not inhibit future developments in ringing, and should not impose
value judgements on what people choose to ring." Having these as your
ground rules (does that metaphor work trans-Atlantic?) seems to bode very
well for the future. And I'm similarly delighted to see the firm end of
year deadline.

Despite all these positives, looking at it as a whole, it does seem as if
the plan is to not undertake a thorough re-evaluaton of the existing
decisions, and shorten and simplify them, but rather just to lengthen them
and make them more complex. Continuing the tradition of kicking the can
down the road, though, at least, in this case kicking it somewhat further
than has been done in the recent past. And, with their ground rules,
promising to address the can again when they get there :-)

Unlike the case with the non-method blocks of a few years ago, on first
reading I think we should probably support all of these changes as positive
steps forward, which will cause little or no trouble in the future, but
continue to press for a more thorough revision, with a deliberate, open and
transparent process.

One further issue that could have been dealt with in this same, incremental
approach, but which the Committee has not addressed, is methods that have
false plain courses. This seems a surprising omission, and I hope they
address it soon.

And I do offer my thanks to the Committee. Whatever my misgivings about
details and process, it is clear they really have been listening, and I
believe their hearts really are in the right place.

* Perhaps using "antiquated" here is insulting to many of us: I believe
this restriction was only introduced during my own lifetime, in the early

Don Morrison <dfm at ringing.org>
"A wise man will avoid public office, while respecting it."
     -- Will and Ariel Durant, _The Age of Reason Begins_,
         paraphrasing Montaigne
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://bellringers.net/pipermail/ringing-theory/attachments/20160429/dd170e4c/attachment-0002.html>

More information about the ringing-theory mailing list