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Bell Notes

by Michael Wareing

It started out as a good idea, of having an annual lunch for the ringers and families –Christmas was suggested but was never achieved as the ringers were busy. In the last few years it has been the last Sunday in the February half term but this year we have reached a new date; well at this moment we still do not have a date as the ringers are so busy! The ringers seem to be off to India and Japan and paying lots of money to break limbs, which is called skiing. At the moment we are now looking at Sunday’s in May or June, so perhaps we will be calling it our ‘mid summer lunch or later?’ We do however have a date for our first ringing outing of the year (we try to have two), but that is a Saturday, where we go out and ring bells in other churches. It was suggested that we could both have a lunch and an outing together but then our outings are lunches with a bit of ringing either side of a lunch.

Our usual dates in the year are around church open days and towers tours which still seem to be popular. They mostly are the Leytonstone Festival, s Fair and what used to be Car Free Day and perhaps a few others but also this year we have, so far, a Wedding to ring for on 25th March, which we will enjoy ringing for. It ‘s funny how things change as we used to ring almost every Saturday, from about Easter (sometimes before) to about October, so the ringers would meet almost every Saturday, quite often for most of the day, for all the Weddings. The thing about ringing for Weddings is that we ring before and after the service, so during the time of the service you could go out, do a bit of shopping have a cup of tea, have your lunch, read a book etc. etc. but most of the time we would just chat so it was very sociable. I met Les Porter that way, ringing for Weddings; he had a very good line of stories about him being in ‘tanks’ during the war….always funny! But also the misery of being a Leyton Orient supporter!

In February he celebrated his 95
th birthday, so congratulations and he still supports Leyton Orient.

Because of various legal changes, couples can now get married at various wonderful locations, so now in most churches wedding services are down to a few each year, which seems a shame as churches are also ‘wonderful locations’.

Ringing outings also seem to less popular, perhaps because people are more mobile and can visit when they want. Almost every church that had bells and had ringers had an annual outing, going off to ring in far flung places like Rugby, Basingstoke, Evesham or Boston. On some outings you were ‘invited’, thus reaching a pinnacle of important excellence …sort of…well you could dream! Most just needed the numbers to fill up a coach….yes! a coach! But of course there was a big problem as both outings and Weddings always happened on a Saturday and your loyalties were stretched…sort of. So not finding a date for our ‘Christmas Lunch’ is a small problem. So this is also the stage where I ask if anyone at St. John’s could help us and join us to keep the St. John’s bells ringing --- please come and have a go, as we teach people to ring. Although we ring for ‘open days’ outings and have the odd lunch, the regular time taken is about three hours a week, which is for Sunday Services and a practice night on a Monday evening, which is ‘open’ to all visiting ringers from anywhere in the country, or beyond.

We were able to ring for Sue Ashdown’s father, as it was Eric’s Memorial Service and Burial of his Ashes on Friday 10
th.February. Eric was a member of St. John’s for some years until he was unable to get to church and Sue used to be a loyal ringer until she had to care for Eric. Please pray for Sue as her cancer has returned.

Now this is a footnote: In the December magazine I was going on…as I do, but this was about all the ringers who are good at making cakes and I also included a recipe from Lynda of a Welsh Honey Cake.

Well both Alasdair and Milene both made it and I got to have some of both, so I am thinking what if I put in a recipe for a Chocolate Cake? Making cakes at St. John’s has always been a tradition, we always could put on ‘a good spread’ so we were always being told….it makes people happy.