Well, this is me struggling to raise a smile at my 60th birthday party. The serious look is a bit misleading, (though the lopsidedness is real), but I guess it shows I have a full complement of eyes, ears, etc, arranged in more or less the usual fashion. I also have legs and arms (not shown here) which I use when ringing at my home tower, St Mary’s Willesden, a 1000+ year-old church located in a bosky area of inner Middlesex containing many scenic railway junctions, car-crushing plants, freightliner terminals, etc. The bells are a modern light (8 cwt) Whitechapel 8, replacing an earlier 10 cwt ring which was worn out by peal ringing in the early 1970’s. Although we don’t ring quite so many peals there now, there have been over 600 rung on the bells (including many Surprise Major first performances) and it’s still one of the top 10 towers for peals. These days I’m an idle old git, having retired several years ago from my day job as a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Computing at Imperial College, a small technical college in London’s French quarter, where my principal activity used to be teaching students to ring handbells.
The main interest of Imperial College for bellringers is a gigantic erection in the back garden called The Queen’s Tower. This is the only remaining fragment of Thomas Edward Collcutt’s masterpiece, The Imperial Institute, completed in 1893 and demolished by academic vandals in 1963/4. The tower was saved after a public outcry led by John Betjeman, which was just as well as it contains the amazingly wonderful Alexandra Ring of bells. At 38 cwt 1 qr 15 lb (in D-flat) these are the 7th(†) heaviest ring of 10 in the world, and with a total weight of almost 8 tons hung 120 feet up a freestanding tower they must be among the most difficult to ring. However as they’re Taylor’s (just prior to full Simpson tuning) they sound superb when properly rung, so they’re well worth the effort.
The bells were originally a present to Queen Victoria and are believed to remain the property of the Monarch; they are rung 10 times a year, mainly for Royal occasions: The Queen’s Accession (Wednesday February 6th), The Queen’s Birthday (Monday April 21st), Imperial College Postgraduate Commemoration Day (Wednesday May 14th in 2008), The Queen’s Coronation (Monday June 2nd), The Duke of Edinburgh’s Birthday (Tuesday June 10th), The Princess Royal’s Birthday (Friday August 15th), Imperial College Undergraduate Commemoration Day (Wednesday October 22nd in 2008), The Prince of Wales’ Birthday (Friday November 14th), The Queen’s Wedding Anniversary (Thursday November 20th) and for The University of London Society of Change-Ringers Annual Dinner (Saturday November 22nd in 2008). On weekdays, ringing takes place between 1pm and 2pm (check first if the date falls on a weekend, as a quarter peal may be arranged) and visitors are always welcome, but no sally-ticklers please.
Roger Bailey, died of cancer on 22nd January 2013 at the age of 66. In accordance with his wishes, Roger had a humanist woodland burial with the funeral presided over by Brooke Lunn on 1st February. This was followed by a larger Memorial Celebration of the Life and Times of Roger on 19th February at the Conway Hall, London, which included an extended version of Mike Trimm’s eulogy. Donations (a Gift Aid scheme operates) in Roger’s memory can be sent to Pembridge Education Fund, by cheque to:
Cathy Saraby, Senior Nurse Manager, Pembridge Palliative Care Centre, St Charles Centre for Health and Wellbeing, Exmoor Street, London W10 6DZ.
£2,090 received to date (14 March 2013) with thanks from Ann Crawford, Admin Manager, Pembridge Palliative Care Centre.