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Once a year!

Many things happen once a year, but some are more firmly stamped with the date than others.

The ringers have a dinner every year, at the end of January. Our principal guest is normally one of the clergy or a church warden, but over the years we have also invited the Musical Director, PCC treasurer and others. We try to ring the changes (if you will forgive the pun).

This year we were delighted to welcome Janet Lucas. It was not quite an initiation, since she chaired our AGM the previous Monday.

Janet’s speech was an entertaining poem into which she wove mention of bells and ringers she had known, ending of course with some local references. Janet is not unique in choosing poetry. Over the years we have had both musical and poetical interpretations of the term ‘speech’,

The other two speeches were unusual too. John Harrison making his foreman’s speech (at ve days notice, having been elected at the AGM) described how in checking a few historical facts he had come across the 1979 AGM minutes which made such riveting reading that he proceeded to read copious extracts. It is indeed uncanny to note some of the parallels between then and now.

Meanwhile (in a different part of the forest) Jon Tutcher had drawn the short straw to make the ‘unofficial!’ speech. By an amazing coincidence, he produced a tome out of the parish archives and proceeded to tell us of ‘excerpts’ from the 1700s up to recent times, that also had a familiar (if slightly incredible) relation to more recent events.

So what has this to do with the year? We often mark dinner day by ringing a peal in the morning. This yew we did something a little different and rang a ‘date touch’ which (this year) consists of 1999 changes. It takes over an hour, somewhat longer than the quarter peals (1260 changes) that we often ring for evensong on festivals.

John Harrison (Feb 1999) 


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