September 2015

The Performance (Does this ring a bell?)


Have I checked my bells?

Is that the correct sharp?

Is this music on my stand the right piece?

Oh dear…concentrate!



Watch Wendy’s wand -

Keep together.

Here we go ------!

It’s now or never!


Our bells are raised, we are ready to ring,

Oh dear I can’t remember a thing!


Keep calm it will be ok,

If you focus and remember to count… they say.


Where are my specs?

Where are my chimes?

I can’t remember how many times

I chose the wrong bell or picked up the wrong sharp!


“I’ve got the joy”, or I think I have!

“Oh no the wrong music!” she said.

“I seem to be looking at “Nimrod" instead!”



We hold up our mallets,

Then cross them in front of our faces,

This is the time we lose our places!

Sticks are flying, bells are...

It all started back in early June when, whilst on holiday in Madeira,

my wife received the latest Cheadle U3A email.  Alton Handbell Ringers were looking for new recruits and were to host an open day event on the 8th July.  Having an interest in things musical and previously having been a tower bell ringer in my youth, I quite fancied the idea of having a go.

It was with some trepidation that I went along to the church in Alton on the evening of the 8th July, and couldn’t help but think that I would no doubt be much older than the rest of the group and that  perhaps they wouldn’t want an old man as part of the team.

How wrong could I have been?  I received the warmest of welcomes from Wendy and the group and it was suggested that her husband Alan, being the sole male member, would perhaps appreciate some male company.

My reception into the team has...

From a new recruit.

I was lucky enough to see the posters for the Open Evening in the village, and I thought I would go along to see what it was all about.  I'd long held an interest in musical activities, but they'd largely been confined to the privacy of my own home, or with a group of (generally impressed!) first school aged children.  Having recently retired from the teaching profession, I was ready to be taught a new activity.  I was so impressed. The sound of so many bells and chimes, co-ordinated with much skill and patience was beautiful and I was hooked!

So … I found myself at the audience end of the line of bell ringers at my first performance, suddenly realising what I'd put so many children through during so many school concerts.  I froze, and managed only two half-hearted notes in the first piece after completely losing my place...

What a warm welcome from the WI at Kniveton on 23 September!

Here are some of the comments I recorded after our concert, while we were tucking in to a delicious buffet.

Mary: I thought it was absolutely fantastic.  Apart from the sound - the way that your bells match your scarves and the glitter; it’s lovely, the presentation.  But the tunes were wonderful.  I will say that my granddaughter plays the clarinet.  When I listen to her practising, she always has to finish with ‘Ode to Joy’ because it’s my favourite, so to hear that was wonderful.

Molly:  It’s the first time I’ve seen bell ringers and they’re absolutely fantastic.  Really, really good and I would love to see them again.

Ann:  I think they’re fantastic.  And they all look so smart together and looking so happy.  You’re happy with what you’re doing.

Be: I think it’s been a wonderful evening.  Years and years ago, I did learn bell ringing but...