9th May 2016

Measures of awareness

How high do we need to raise public awareness of ringing? We can’t expect other people to know as much as ringers know, but we could try to achieve a similar level of knowledge about ringing to that which many people have of other sports and musical activities.

The table below shows ringing and four other activities, with comparable descriptions of each for the equipment used, the activity itself, and the people who take part. These descriptions are not about participants or keen followers, but about people with no involvement. For example the cricket knowledge would apply to someone who never watches cricket, couldn’t name any current cricketers, doesn’t know there is a Test match on and doesn’t care who wins.

Our goal should be for most of the people we meet in everyday life to have at least the level of knowledge described in the ringing row.

Activity Equipment What happens Participants
Ringing Most bells weigh several cwt (but some can weigh tons). They are typically hung in sets of 6-8 (but can be more or fewer). They swing full circle, are fitted with wheels, and controlled from below by a rope. Rope has a fluffy bit (sally) since on alternate strokes the rope rises to a different height and this makes it easier for the ringer to catch. One performer per bell. Bells ring in sequence. Rhythm should be even. In change ringing sequence continually changes according to predetermined rules. ‘Methods’ (corresponding to musical tunes) have interesting names. Performances take from a few minutes to several hours (peals). Ringers are very varied: male and female, all ages (from teens until well past retirement) and from all walks of life. They don’t need to be very strong but do need co-ordination and a sense of rhythm.
Cricket Smallish leather ball hit with a wooden bat. Larger grass pitch with a flat strip in the middle. Wickets at both ends of the strip, made of 3 sticks with ‘bails’ (smaller sticks) balanced on top. Batsmen wear leg protection. 11 players in a team. Batsman at either end. Balls bowled alternately to one of them. Both run together to make scores. Extra score for hitting a ball to the boundary. Batsmen are got out by the ball being caught, or by knocking bails off stumps. Games last from a few hours to several days. Mainly played by young men. Played at all levels: village, county, national. Amateur and professional players. Traditionally they wear white flannel.
Ten pin bowling Large, heavy ball with finger holes. Long lane with pins at the end. Pins automatically cleared and set up by a machine. Scores displayed automatically. Multiple lanes alongside each other. People play against each other, either individually or in teams. They have three balls for each go. The aim is to knock down as many pins as possible with each ball. Pins are set up again if they all go down before using the last ball. Often played as a social activity by groups (eg work colleagues). Others play regularly in clubs and leagues.
Golf Small dimpled ball, long clubs of varying weight, some with wooden ends, some iron. Ball hit a long way by swinging club through large arc. Grassy course extends over several acres. ‘Greens’ (flat bits) a good walk apart. Each has a hole in it that the ball must be got into. 18 holes in a course. Score based on total number of strokes to get ball into all holes. Players have a handicap (added to score) to compensate for differences in individual ability. Game takes a few hours. Played by all classes, men and women, but some clubs have elite status, compared with ‘pay as you play’. Amateurs and pros.
Organ playing Most are pipe organs, but some generate sound electronically. Sound made by air blown through pipes of different shape, length and material. Lots of pipes. Playing console has more than one keyboard and (usually) a pedal board. ‘Stops’ can be used to produce and mix different sounds One person plays, using both hands and feet. Music varies widely. Can be used to accompany singing or to give solo performances. Organists normally play from music, but some can perform from memory. Organists can be any age or sex. They need to be musical and have considerable dexterity – more so than playing a piano.

If you know of any other useful analogies between ringing and other activities, please let us know.

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