(From the Ringing World, May 27, 1983)
The seed was sown by Peter Swift three years previously when Norman Smith's compositions for 10, 14, 19 and 23 Spliced were scored with alacrity and ease, all of which were credited to the Ely D A. James Taylor's 23 Spliced (all the work and each lead different) was a first for a university when Cambridge rang it at Great St Andrew's (where else?). Unfortunately the summer season took its toll and replacements were thrown into the breach for Norman Smith's 17 and 23 scored in late 1981.
1982 always seemed promising. In January, Smith's and Taylor's 23 Spliced were scored four days apart and they caused few problems; it was obvious we could go a lot further still. Chandler's 23 Spliced had always been considered the most difficult of all, having been rung only twice before. The prospect of ringing 22 wrong place methods (the other being Pudsey!) was a very big step. We required a stepping-stone, and Philip Saddleton provided it by inserting simpler methods from Smith's and Taylor's into Chandler's composition. On 27th February, 1982, this was scored under severe difficulty at Meldreth; in the third of the seven parts we realised the lights were off! Carrying on regardless, but taking the precaution of slowing down, we brought it round after 3 hours in complete darkness, apart from the dull red glow of the heater.
This type of success only adds to the impetus to go for the big one - Chandler's. The first attempt failed; the second one at Bourn (a difficult eight at the best of times) was scored remarkably well. In fact, it was the best Major ringing the majority of the band had heard. The penultimate part brought our hearts into our mouths when we all seemed to be in unison; amazingly, Patrick Brooke corrected and re-corrected the errors before the next lead-end. On June 19th, 1982, Chandler's was rung again, this time allowing David Brown to score, even though we had trouble in selecting an easier eight.
But now what? The most complicated composition rung and no natural progression. The 165 Spliced was mentioned, but everyone was on that bandwagon at some stage. Spliced Royal and Maximus were also disregarded. Well, we'll produce our own compositions! Summer was upon us again but spared us of casualties, apart from Phil Saddleton who has no real aversion to joining us for these extravaganzas.
By December 1982 we had a composition. As an appetiser a peal of Bristol with half-lead calls was arranged but came to grief very quickly. The enormousness of our task was beginning to dawn on us: we were now into early 1983, six months after Chandler's and no Spliced since. The attempts for the peal were all short-lived, coughing and spluttering through one, or even two parts, before thrashing into its inevitable death throes. One attempt dared to go the full way, only this time its benefactors put it out of its misery by deciding the quality was not up to a suitable performance. Seven attempts courted disaster; the eighth proved victorious (although not without its moments); the peal the next day was superb, hardly a trip throughout - a fitting tribute to the perseverance and dedication shown by its creators.
But now what? Watch this space!
(From the Ringing World, July 8, 1983)
Unlike the half-lead spliced, the methods were a lot easier to learn, the major difficulty was experienced by Patrick Brooke in transposing coursing orders, which bore little resemblance to traditional systems of transpose. Incidentally, to enable the band to learn the half-lead spliced methods a computer program was written by Patrick Brooke, Philip Saddleton and David Agg to test ourselves. The program analysed the number of faults and the time taken, whilst displaying the blue line stage by stage on the monitor in front of us. This method of learning became an integral part of the peal attempts.
Two new methods were rung for the first time: Watford Gap and Champion of the Thames. The calls to change the hunt bell required 3rds and 8ths to be made in an eighths place method; singles were also used where 1238 places were made across the lead end. The peal is constructed in eight equal parts; each part constitutes a lead of each method.
With two new avenues of Spliced Surprise ringing explored, where do
we go from here? Suggestions for even larger grandiose schemes have been
offered, the complexities of which defy explanation. But I can report that
Patrick and Philip were busy concocting a composition over pints of IPA
in the Prince Regent after this variable hunt success, which promptly summoned
my early departure from their company! Nevertheless, these two have an
uncanny knack of turning fantasy into reality, and no doubt these dreams
will grace the pages of the Ringing World in due course.
At about the same time I decided that it would be possible to produce something more challenging than Chandler's, which contains several back-works that are common to more than one method. I set out to find a set of methods that were designed to be as different as possible. The criteria I chose were:
The original composition contained three methods that had previously been rung. By the time we thought we were equal to the challenge I had a BBC micro at home, which made the search process much easier. I wrote a program to generate methods with the required lead-head order and restrictions on place-notation, and another to tell me the minimum set of leads that had to be removed to leave the remaining leads true, and quickly arrived at a composition with 23 new methods fitting the rules.
Once again eight attempts were necessary, although the early ones were
only for part of the composition, and again we once rang through the whole
composition without counting it as a peal. The peal was eventually
in June 1984, about six months after the first practice.
We decided after our previous experiences that it would be nice to work
up to the peal in stages, and I produced some intermediate steps with some
of the methods replaced by ones we had rung in previous peals. Only one
of these was rung before circumstances caused the band to drift apart.
Return to Philip's Home Page
This page created by Philip Saddleton
Last updated 11 December 2001