The X-File (No.15) - March 1997

Only 6 of the 35 new methods published during March have made it past the tough X-file selection test (that's almost an 83% failure rate according to our new computer), which presumably says one of two things: either we set our audition standards too high, or our method designers set their standards too low. It's true to say that, on occasion, we may miss a decent method whose qualities are exploited by a clever composition, but that's hardly our fault; we, like a jury, only have the evidence in front of us to go on. Still, I don't see many complaints.

Here, then, are this month's top 6 contestants who have emerged from the X-file offices with smiles on their faces .




Rung at









S Jenner


Monkey Town





G Fothergill







D Mottershead


North Hackney



South Hackney


I R Fielding




BDa1a2 (out)



S D Pettman


Milton Abbey





D D Smith


Mildmay Surprise Maximus : x5x4.5x5.36.4x7.58.6x9.70.8x8.9x38.0.3 lh 1T

Mildmay might sound like a weather forecast to send a shiver down Yorkshire Water bosses spines, but with 92% of the rows gleaned directly from a course of Bristol, it's more likely to make the hairs stand up on the back of your neck. With pure Bristol above the treble the first deviation occurs at the 22nd row of the lead, a couple of wrong 3rds causing dodging in 45, 67 and 89 over the half-lead. Music is, not surprisingly, Bristol-esque and slightly Strathclyde-esque around the half-lead, and plenty can be packed in with a 2-lead course using 4ths-place bobs. The only problem would seem to be stopping yourself from ringing Bristol.

Monkey Town Surprise Major : x56x4x56x23x34x45x4x5 lh 12

With Cornwall above the treble, plenty of roll-ups are assured, albeit (particularly with a seconds-place lead-head) in rather large chunks. The frontwork is a mixture of right-hunting and dodging and produces 2 each 5678s, 8765s and 8756s, although, again, these are all confined to one lead. There is plenty of potential, however, for music front and back in most leads of the course, and, being clean-proof in-course, finding a good composition should be easy. Overall, though, Cornwall (or it's 2nds-place version, Falmouth) has a neater and more pleasant structure.

Weaverham Surprise Maximus : x5x4.5x5.36.4x7.58.6x9.70x8x9.8x8.E lh 12

Like Mildmay, Weaverham is vastly Bristol. In fact, it's Bristol with the place notations in the 90 and ET sections swapped and with 11ths-place at the half-lead. All this has the result that the expected points occur at the "wrong" stroke when the treble moves in 0-E, and lots of wrong hunting occurs in the front 8 places over the half lead. Only 75% of the rows are actually lifted directly from Bristol, but, unlike Mildmay, the remaining rows also produce Bristol-style music. So, another interesting diversion for Bristol enthusiasts, if only slightly marred by the 2nds-place lead-head. The 12ths-place version is still unrung, although the somewhat rare lead-head order (j1) may prove tricky on the composition front.

North Hackney Surprise Major : 36x56. lh 18

In the absence of any other evidence, I've guessed at this place notation. Apart from the 2nds-place when the treble dodges 34, this is purely Glasgow above and Double Dublin below. And there's nothing wrong with that: 8 roll-up positions at both front and back and spread between 5 different leads. However, I suspect that the somewhat abundant T falseness, coupled with BE, will have been severely restrictive. Nothing BYROC couldn't handle, no doubt, but that's not the point, is it?

Octavian Delight Royal : x34x4x2x1x78x58x56x1x78x9 lh 10

At times, ringing this Stephen Pettman creation looks more like ringing triple-treble-bob hunt, with a surprising 29 sets of 3 dodges in the plain course. If you discern this as a major problem, then read no further. However, despite it's linear failings, the music produced is good, and it's fairly straightforward to ring. At the back we have 8 567890s, in 2 small clusters, and off the front 6 098765s and 2 098756s, as well as a few 4- and 5-bell roll-ups at both ends. Composition isn't a problem, although I suspect that a split-tenors one might be required in order to keep a band's attention for more than half an hour.

Milton Abbey Surprise Major : 3x5.4x25x3.4x4.5.4x36.7 lh 12

This month's offering from the Sussex band has classic features both front and back. A wrong hunting start to Bristol points a blow late is combined with a frontwork which has roll-up potential in all but one lead of the course. Once the treble reaches 56, the already present-and-correct coursing quadruplet starts 4-bell hunting and in the 5th lead has produced an 8765 and a 5678 even before the treble has reached the back. A 3rds-place as the treble dodges 78 causes a double-dodge on the front and brings together a new foursome (successive backstrokes in the 4th lead yield 8764, 8756, 8735). For the second time this month, however, the in-course falseness is BET littered throughout the course, and thus a method which promises much is likely to deliver a disappointing peal.

This file is now closed.


Forward to X-File No.16
Return to X-File No.14
Back to X-File Menu