The Guild of late has not been noted for its excessive modesty when it comes to self-praise and self-engendered enthusiasm. However, on A.G.M. day this year at Romsey, in the Old School Room, it seemed as though the assembled members were swamped by the heat into inactivity. The agenda sheets were no longer the point of concentrated attention, with each item assiduously being ticked off, but rather were used as fans to disturb the sultry air in front of hot, glistening faces.
The meeting started with the usual items of business: the Master's welcome, a moment of reflective silence as those of our number who had died were remembered. On then to the minutes and the reports of the various Guild officers. Those who pride themselves on close attention of business and critical acumen found little to pick up in these reports. All had seemed to have done their job. The meeting seemed to be becoming a machine, inexorably chugging on to the final item on the agenda, No. 25, with officers and members alike in dutiful but meaningless attendance, sweating in a close atmosphere well into the high eighties.
Geoff Dodd gave a thorough-going report of the Central Council meeting, now a routine, dear to the hearts of W. & P. devotees, but this was only a harbinger of things to come: the Bell Restoration Fund. That there was nearly £3,000 in the fund was the treasurer's glad announcement; good news, but what to do with this mammon? The trustees recommended a distribution of grants of over £400 but this meant dipping, a little, into capital. The meeting broke into two vocal camps. That the capital should remain untouched and consequently inviolable in future time was a view decisively expressed by Mr. P. Murduck. However, others saw no objection since the rules of the fund said nothing on the matter and they felt that an imaginative, if cautious, broadening of outlook was in order. With large sums of money now being handled we must recognize the considerable responsibility laid on the trustees' shoulders in the management of the fund's monies and grants.
The top table, whose duty it is to pay close attention seemed now to be wilting under the strain. The master, Mr. R. Savory, appeared to find (verified later on his own confession), that the noble badge of office felt clammy and irritable, and the necessary concession to formality, collar and tie, added to his discomfiture. This contrasted with other members, lightly clad in shorts and tee-shirts, lolling in their seats without a care for appearances.
The Guild dinner was next discussed. Mr. J. Hartless expressed the view that the food was of an insufficiently high standard this year and could something be done about it. This was countered by Mr. W. S. Croft who said that even at second hand he had gained the impression that the dinner had been, as a whole, a stimulating social event where members and guests had mingled at their ease, relishing each others' company.
The meeting then decided that a full-scale ringing course was not to be held this year; perhaps a shorter one on conducting. However, a committee was set up, with Mr. J. P. Colliss as convener, to set the course upon a permanent and well-based footing.
Any other business was not lengthy. There was a query about certain small matters in the annual report, but the meeting reiterated its general approval of this year's issue, which is indeed even better than last year's, and Mr. G. Nabb is to be commended on its production at none too exorbitant a price.
WHO CAN TELL?
Sated with business we moved over to the church hall to sate ourselves with food and refreshing drinks, laid on by Mr. I. Trueman and his willing band of helpers. Several took their tea outside and the company either talked in heat-wearied generalities or discussed particular points sprung from enlivened interest. Who can tell?
At half-past-five the service was held in the cool of Romsey Abbey and afterwards the more energetic climbed up to the Abbey bells, recently rehung (a grant of £200 having been made from the Bell Restoration Fund at the foregoing meeting), to try them out. The young men managed the back-end of this heavy ring, dripping exhaustion and expertise, while the, young ladies in their summer frocks made a gay scene inside the belfry, sitting coolly and charmingly around the rope circle. Those who had reached years of discretion, stayed outside, sitting on the grass, listening, with discerning ear, to the bells ringing out over the Hampshire countryside, leaving the gathered ringers thankful at another enjoyable occasion organized by the W. & P. Guild.
Once again, thank you to all who were responsible for arranging the day, especially Ivor Trueman for the tea and Roger Savory for keeping the meeting on the straight and narrow, and free from acrimony in testing conditions.
W. S. C.
The Ringing World No. 3405, July 30/August 6, 1976, page 642