Energy and controversy

The Very Reverend Gilbert Thurlow, Dean Emeritus of Gloucester was guest and principal speaker at the Winchester and Portsmouth Guild's 16th Annual Dinner on 14th April 1984. Earlier in the day a peal attempt of 6-Spliced Surprise Major at Bishopstoke was lost after an hour's ringing.

The venue for this year's dinner, the Busketts Lawn Hotel, Ashurst, was a new one for the Guild, and suffered somewhat from lack of space to talk before and after the meal. Even so, those of us who arrived on time managed to have a drink and meet friends before taking our places at the tables.

The Reverend Barry J. Fry said Grace showing a confidence which belied the shortness of his diaconate. After a three-course meal and coffee we sat back to seek entertainment and enlightenment in the toasts.

Dean Thurlow led off with a humorous, extemporising speech freely associating events and people of the last half century. He raised the ever-topical subject of Ringing World letters, and observed that "rubbishy" letters sometimes elicited "good" letters in response; two recent examples being ringing for Mass, and the augmentation at Guernsey. Finally recalling his duty, he ended his speech by briefly proposing the toast to "The Guild".

In responding for the Guild, Andrew Barnsdale, a ringing member of the Guild at Binsted, and also Tower Captain outside the Guild at Haslemere, clearly aimed to entertain rather than enlighten, and he did so very successfully. He explained that his speech was cribbed - it had been delivered in Wormwood Scrubs and at last year's Gay Liberation Rally - and he apologised to those having to sit through it for the third time

Philip Gorrod, who was brought up in Thurlow country, East Anglia, but who now rings at Wmchester Cathedral, proposed the toast to "The Visitors". He told us that his first encounter with the Reverend Thurlow was in 1956. He was not sure whether the Dean would remember, but he himself certainly did not, being aged one at the time. Future meetings were obviously more memorable, for he went on to give a short word picture of him. He was a fire-breathing dragon with enough presence to quieten 700 young choristers but who also actually spoke to his dad. He could sleep at any time, even during peals(!). He enjoyed travelling, in earlier times by bike or with a rucksack around Britain, but more recently by plane as a courier on religious tours to other countries.

The last speaker of the evening was Bill Butler, author, ringer at Thatcham, and member of the Central Council Education Committee. Mr. Butler responded to the toast to the visitors by suggesting that much of the character of our Guild could be described in two words, energy and controversy. He offered Basingstoke and Liss as examples of controversy, and the progress achieved in the pilot graded ringing scheme for energy. Mr. Butler ended with a plea which bears repeating: he urged us all to teach a non-ringer to ring.

Throughout the evening our Master, Gilian Davis had introduced the advertised speakers with the command of the situation and subjects we now expect of her. But at this point she surprised us by inviting Derek Jackson (Guild Secretary) to speak. Mr. Jackson told us that Gail Cater, convener of the social committee responsible for this and other successful Guild events was retiring from the job. He presented her with a card and small gift from the Guild.

And that was it, though many stayed on for an hour or more in the convivial atmosphere.


The Ringing World No. 3812, May 18, 1984, page 428