Today a message, a silent text

A report from a first-time Sunday Service ringer

Peter and his partner Renata are learning to ring at Over. They came to see what was happening as we were ringing out the old year on New Year's Eve, wanted to try ringing for themselves and are making good progress. On Sunday 16th February, Peter sent Edie a text to ask about a suitable time for a tied bell practice, but it was a busy day, with a birthday to celebrate, so Edie replied with a text inviting Peter to ring for Sunday Service for the first time. 

Here is Peter's account of the occasion:

Today a message, a silent text.

Be at the tower by half past ten.

The prospect of the first round ringing for real with a live church filling up was positively terrifying.

Only fifteen minutes to go, no time to fret.

Out the door down the lane in brilliant sunshine, through the six foot wide heavy oak door plugging the gap in the Norman arch, swinging on immense wrought iron hinges with a foot-long black latch of guillotine proportions.

The door is sporting a welcome note. Keep it closed! The heating is on!

Heating the volume of a chunky village church is no laughing matter as the solid walls seep heat to the outside world at a prodigious rate presenting a challenge as satisfactory as filling Liza's bucket.

Actually it was noticeably warmer inside.

Across the aisle in the distance a couple of Sunday-best garbed men were nursing sheets of paper taking care not to lose any notes off the paper before playing or singing them with the approaching eager anticipating congregation.

Congregate they might, there were a few minutes to go as I identified myself as there for the donging of dings not singing of songs.

Edie and the confident ringing team arrive and I am instructed to ring up and set the treble bell. There are unfamiliar faces. An impressively bearded chap called Jon from over the hill near Ely. 

Self-consciously, the raising of the lightest bell in the tower seems to be an exhausting task that takes for ever as the rope snakes anaconda-like in all directions seeking out unwary prey.

Finally set, I shed the outer thickest jumper, retrieving both my hearing aids and the glasses slung around my neck on corded string.

The five other bells are rung up. I am invited to choose one, number four which I have rung before in practice.

Treble away! Down the Sallys drop one by one and I set my bell adrift pretty well on time and on we go.

Out of the corner of my eye sensing the movement of number three I am trying to keep in time.

I shorten my swing by pulling less hard or increase the pull of the rope to slow the bell without bouncing off the stay or setting the bell over the point of balance which will call for an increase in effort to set it into the swing in time.

And then the call to set the bells and delight, oh joy, it settles first time on the dot.

Time to sit out whilst the others complete Cambridge.

Not sure what Cambridge is except the name of a method or a series of changes of order of the bells as the bells are rung but for the present I am not really bothered but feeling relieved that I have survived so far and not let Edie down.

One feels a great sense of debt to someone who has invested so much time, patience and cheerfulness in getting you to this point that I don't want her to feel it's been a waste of time.

Cambridge over and onto another set of rounds. 

This time I lose concentration, miss the Sally and the rope snakes, but I somehow manage to recover and on we go and stand the bell with an extra dong.

Another method and they ring down. A merry sound which abruptly ends.

Three minutes to the hour and I am invited to ring down the solitary bell and terminate it a few seconds past the hour.

It's all over.

We head for the porch to eat celebratory mini chocolate birthday cakes.
Over 16 February 2014