Project Pickled Egg - Part 20

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Glasgow – The public vote

As Project Pickled Egg gains momentum, one of the most common questions asked is how far it is going to go. Project Pickled Egg is meant to provide a pathway to newcomers to this genre – to show those just setting out on ringing Treble Dodging Major that there is more to life than the Standard 8, breaking the shackles of 50 years or so of indoctrination.

How far does that pathway need to go? When you move on from the Core Seven and the further methods recommended so far, the scope for fresh challenges broadens quite considerably. PPE starts going beyond being a learning pathway and becomes more of a menu of recommendations for those ringers and bands wanting to discover more variety beyond the standard fare. There isn’t a logical end point – there isn’t a ‘most difficult method’ to aim for.

Consultation amongst those who have not yet got onto the harder methods has indicated a strong desire for there to be at least one ‘difficult’ target method, something to aim at, something seen as the ultimate challenge. So although I have a couple of more straightforward methods still to come before closing the larder door, there will also be some hot spices for inclusion!

And so it is with that in mind that the debate returns to Glasgow. Glasgow has probably generated more debate than all of other methods considered for Project Pickled Egg combined. Apparently both Glasgow and Belfast were designed to have the most challenging blue lines of their day. Music was not considered a priority, and few composers worried about music off the front when they were devised. Time has moved on, and we want more from our methods now. A difficult line is not enough. It is not sufficient for our spices just to add heat – we want them to add flavour as well.

Part 18 left a decision on Glasgow hanging in the air – a stay of execution pending one last round of opinion gathering and a public vote. The first time I posted a Facebook poll on the subject of Glasgow, the majority of those voting wanted it to be included in PPE and hence remain in the larder:

Include Glasgow in PPE 24

Don’t included in PPE 13

Include a better alternative 11

The poll was considered flawed by those who thought the third option above was added to the poll late and hence might have affected other answers, and by those who thought the ‘Leave’ voters didn’t really understand the question and hence were wrong. Much discussion then ensued, both before and after the publication of my article on Glasgow.

Based on more information and more time to think about it, the second referendum was held. The question this time was:

“Assuming that PPE is going to extend into some more difficult methods, should Glasgow be one of them? If it is rejected, key features of Glasgow can always be found in other options.”

The result was pretty much the same:

Yes 31

No 24

No strong opinion 10

The verdict therefore is that Glasgow goes into the spice rack.

Many of those expressing a strong view against including Glasgow did so on the basis of the perceived lack of music below the treble. The PPE criteria actually stipulate that the method has to be musical in the plain course. Any band getting to the end of a plain course of Glasgow will have heard several 5678's and corresponding 5432's off the back, a bonus 7568 and 2468, 78654321 and 32456781, and plenty of other 5678 combinations throughout the course. Maybe not the conventional 5678’s off the front, but still a few things to smile at if you are so inclined. There are even some musical quarter peal compositions circulating!

There were many interesting contributions to the debate on Glasgow, particularly recently when it was looking as though Glasgow was going to make the cut principally due to the lack of anything better. And then there was the contribution from Deputy Chief Evangelist AJB in The Ringing World – the last gasp effort to kick Glasgow into the ditch! This contribution from Rob Lee sums it all up nicely:

“Firstly, I'm not sure if there is an option that is (a) musical enough for your liking, and (b) similar enough to preserve most of its character. We'd have ended up with a Chequers-style compromise where no one is happy.

Secondly, I am increasingly leaning towards the mindset of those who state that variety is a more important factor than music in a standard repertoire. I quite enjoy ringing Glasgow, especially in spliced. For me, it falls into the Cambridge/London camp - it has its own unique DNA, so I can live with the lack of music off the front. The same cannot be said of Pudsey, Lincolnshire or Rutland, which are not redeemed by having any notable features, or Belfast, where the same motifs can be retained in more musical methods.”

As I put this article to bed, David Sullivan posted on ringing chat that one of the young ringers at a youth practice called for Glasgow and it was rung with four teenagers in the band. That has only happened because the rest of the band also knew Glasgow. We still need stepping stones into ringing more difficult methods, and one of those stepping stones is familiarity. If we propose difficult methods that are completely new, they probably won't get rung at all.

I could suggest a ‘try also’ alongside Glasgow, if only to compensate the Leave voters. In the ultimately fruitless search for a more musical version of Glasgow, a number of methods were put forward and analysed, including Audlie, Sheffield, Bosworth and Quidenham. The most highly rated was Chenies. However, by the time bands have got to be able to ring Glasgow, the chances of them wanting to ring something that is like Glasgow, but slightly more musical, is actually pretty slim. Such a band will be looking more widely for fresh challenges. So I will just leave Chenies as the method that almost replaced Glasgow in Project Pickled Egg.