The Council meeting in Shrewsbury last year passed a motion, proposed by representatives of the Ancient Society of College Youths, "that the Methods Committee be asked to consider, and advise the Council's 1997 meeting of, appropriate changes to the Decisions so as to permit peals in which the cover bell varies."
This followed a decision by the meeting not to include in the Peals Analysis a peal of Stedman Cinques rung on 24th May 1995 at St Mary-le-Bow by the ASCY on twelve bells in which bells other than the tenor took turns at lying behind. The peal was reported as "variable cover" (RW p.689) and did not meet the requirement that peals of Cinques on twelve bells are rung with the tenor as cover (Decision (D) B.2).
Although the motion only asked the Committee to "advise" Council, we are proposing a motion on behalf of the Council, to change the Decision on Peal Ringing. This is for two reasons. The first is procedural; the meeting needs a motion to debate. The second is so that, if the meeting does decide that it wants to recognise variable cover peals, it does not have to wait another year before putting the decision into effect. However, we must emphasise two points:
there is, as yet, no agreement in principle that "variable cover" is a desirable development which is worth recognising;
the fact that the Methods Committee is proposing the motion does not mean that they support the principle, let alone the detail, of the proposition.
The motion placed no restriction on which cover bells might be allowed to vary and so we have tried to consider all the ways in which a cover bell could conceivably vary.
To help us formulate our proposed change to the Decisions, we have established some general principles. These principles, which we hope are fairly self-evident, are:
We are considering additional types of peal, not additional types of method. Decision changes are thus limited to section (D) Peal Ringing and do not affect (E) Methods and Calls.
The methods used in peals should continue to be valid methods as defined in Decision (E) A. Thus a peal of, say, Variable Cover Cinques should be made up of valid Cinques methods (even though 12 bells are needed to ring the peal).
There are two ways of varying the cover bell, namely using special calls and splicing with a method or methods at the next higher stage. These two approaches are of equal validity, and the proposal should cover them both.
"Variable cover" means that at least two distinct bells are used as cover bells at different point in the peal.
Peal reports should show if the peal was rung with variable cover.
In the interest of consistency, the proposal should cover all stages from Minimus upwards.
When considering the truth of a composition the cover bell, if any, is to be considered part of the row. So for example in a peal of Variable Cover Triples and Major, the Triples methods should be considered as generating eight-bell rows. These eight-bell rows must be true against themselves, and against the eight-bell rows generated by the Major methods in the composition.
B.1 (old B.5) Reordered so that the requirement for peals of Minimus to be rung on tower bells comes before the requirements for peals at higher stages.
B.2 (old B.1) Non-variable cover peals up to Triples. The meaning of truth of extents and round blocks is made explicit.
B.3 (old B.2) Non-variable cover peals at Major and above.
B.4 Variable cover peals at stages up to Minor may also include extents or round blocks with the tenor as cover.
B.5 Variable cover peals at Triples and above.
B.6 (old B.3) Extended to permit mixed stage extents and round blocks. Other extents or round blocks permitted in non-variable cover and variable cover peals at a single stage may also be included. Specify when the peal is described as "Variable Cover". A mixed stage peal with the same bell always covering the lower stage is not "Variable Cover". Note that this increases the scope of extents or round blocks which could be used in a non-variable cover peal.
B.7 (old B.4) Extended to make the meaning of truth explicit and to specify when the peal is described as "Variable Cover". A mixed stage peal with the same bell always covering the lower stage is not "Variable Cover".
B.8 Similar reporting requirements to that for peals of "Spliced".
C.2 Rewording so that the requirement for "Spliced" also applies to variable cover extents and round blocks.
C.4 Rewording so that the reporting requirement also applies to variable cover extents and round blocks.
D. Variable cover records to be kept separately so, for instance, 16800 Cambridge Surprise Variable Cover Major (Middleton's with three cover bells) would not supersede the non-variable cover record.
The Ringing World, January 23, 1998, page 78