It was 22 days before Christmas and no snow lay deep upon the ground when three wise men (and one other) gathered in Whitchurch. The wise three were the CC Methods Committee and the other, a simple fellow of little learning, was "present by invitation" and the author of this report.
It is one of the committee's duties to keep method collections up-to-date: nowadays this means coping with the twin demands of the techno-whizzes who would like to have everything on a disc, the Internet, or something fancy like that, and those stuck in the era of the quill pen (probably the majority of ringers), who prefer a comforting pile of paper. The problem with the paper is that it goes out-of-date almost as soon as the ink hits the page, as do the Corrections and Amendments that the Chairman efficiently prepares. Nevertheless, someone ordering a paper collection from the Publications Committee quite reasonably expects to receive the latest Cs and As rather than just the Chairman's address from which a copy can be ordered. The wise ones failed to solve this essentially impossible problem: if anyone has a brilliant solution then Tony Smith would no doubt be pleased to hear it.
Next business was the entertainment provided by Coaker the Clown and his "variable cover" Stedman Cinques. This innocent "wind-up" will, of course, run and run, but no-one has yet come up with a way of making the performance a valid peal. It's hard to find a loophole in the inconvenient rule that talks about "with the tenor as cover" and, as for classifying Stedman as a Maximus principle with 420 blows behind, well, nice try Steve, but no thanks. The Committee doesn't make the rules, just interprets them, so it was left to Tony to do just this when someone asks, or possibly, even if they don't.
Dennis Mottershead would like to rename Daresbury Surprise Royal as Dodlestone, because it is nearly a valid extension of Dodleston Surprise Major, and would be valid if there was any justice in the world (according to Mr Mottershead, that is). However, today's battle cry seems to be: "Homophones for proximate extensions are deprecated" (translation: the CC doesn't really approve of naming "nearly" extensions Superlatyve, Surfleate and so on). Tony suggests the band might consider "Dodleston No. 1" as a compromise.
Thanks to the Committee's efforts, a new edition (not a reprint) of John Fidler's classic "Method splicing: practical hints" has now hit the streets, but has had a quiet reception. Next in the pipeline is a new edition of "Treble Dodging Minor Methods", which will have more historical information. Possibly in the future there will be a new "four-way table", vastly larger now that formerly "illegitimate" methods are respectable again.
The Ringing World, January 12, 1996, page 31