Nathan's First Handbell Peal AND The First Peal at the Bungalow
An ECG Double-Header
By David Maynard
"Up above the streets and houses..."
Memory, musty from having been long enclosed, fails me as to exactly how or why we first started referring to Bungle (that is to say Alex) as Bungle, but establishing the date of his ursine investiture is somewhat less problematic. Like the first quarter peal rung on toilets, inspiration dawned during a pint-full post practice pub session in the Royal Oak, Heavitree. Somehow the subject of children's TV programmes came up in conversation, and in the ensuing enthusiasm for all things Zippy, George and Bungle, it transpired that some of us were the privileged possessors of middle names taken straight out of the Rainbow house itself. Obviously nobody's parents had actually thought fit to bestow "Zippy" or "Bungle" on their cherished offspring, even as a middle name, but mine had chosen to name me in honour of the undisputed king of the stripy jumper - Geoffrey, and Pip's had looked (as both Taylor Swift and Casey Musgraves also would, years later) to Jane, alpha-female of Rainbow's very own pop trio; "Rod, Jane and Freddy"..
Having stumbled so serendipitously upon this rich vein of comic potential, we decided, predictably enough to ring a Rainbow quarter peal. Not on the Early Learning Centre multi-coloured toy handbells (other brands are available) - this would come later, but a quarter peal in which all participants would have a Rainbow middle name. Two performers had already been selected, or rather predestined, to take part, and we'd simply have to make up some middle names for the others to complete the band. If Munchkin could complete the middle initial alphabet to quarter peals, why couldn't we employ similar creative licence to correct this accident of birth, which stood in the way of our current project?
Cutting the Gordian Knot
"So," I had asked, in imitation innocence. "who will be Bungle?"
"Alex!" came the delighted chorus of reply. Laughter prevailed.
A few weeks later we duly rang our Rainbow quarter peal, and while I still add "...just like in Rainbow" when clarifying anything relating to my middle name or initial for the benefit of bank officials, receptionists or curious peal ringers, none of the middle names that were assumed purely for the purposes of this project have stuck.
None that is except for the one which has stuck so well that more than one confused fresher has asked "Who?" when Alex has been mentioned, or addressed as such, in conversation.
A Chapter on Bungle
I wonder what Rod, Jane and Freddy would have made of all that?
"But it isn't even a Bungalow!"
Stay of Execution
The shocking truth is, however, that the much talked about Bungalow Peal Project was almost consigned to impossibility when Bungle forsook the mean streets of St Leonards to live the suburban dream in leafy Cranbrook. Several of us gave it up as a lost cause. However, invisible forces were at work behind the scenes and circumstances presented a rare window of opportunity. And so, like Maurice spotting an unattended pint from across a busy pub, we seized it with both hands and got stuck right in.
Nathan's first handbell peal
So, as you've probably already guessed by the fact that this article has been written in the first place, we fixed one up. As usual with the ECG we took this project seriously, and prepared for the momentous event by spending the previous day at the Exeter Food Festival, sampling some of the finest cheese, pies, chillies, chocolate, buffalo burgers, beer, cider, wine and gin that Devon has to offer. Bungle would have been proud. Appropriately enough, given the Bungle connection, we also attended a cookery demonstration, to learn a thing a two while we were there... The next morning dawned bright and sunny, perfect conditions for Nathan's first peal, as I explained to the rather bewildered waitress in Exeter's most eccentric breakfasting place; the Cosy Club.
Thusly victualled; intrepid participants four, bell-bejangled, betook, both jointly and severally through the exercise of their manifest skill and uninterrupted endeavour, to put right that wrong for which purpose they're gathering, all seated together in the time honoured form circular, upon this auspicious occasion, had been duly and felicitously convoked. Washed all about by rhythmic currents of bell-song, arms rose and fell in ritual imitation of the opening and closing of some mystical half-dreamed bloom of flesh and bronze. Bob-bedecked and single-strewn they strove, and skirting sleepy shallows and dodging drowsy differences, happened handily home.
Or to put it more conventionally: we sat down to ring the peal, and without more bungling around than the occasion demanded, rang that bad boy.
Guild of Devonshire Ringers (Exeter Colleges
The Bungalow had been duly pealed, another Harrison-honed fledgling had been launched into the dizzy firmament of handbell peal ringing, and perhaps most importantly of all, everyone involved in the wider project had had a thoroughly good time, eating, drinking, telling stories about Bungle's extraordinary exploits, soaking up the Devon sunshine and enjoying the excellent company.
And the Bungalow itself? Ever the optimist, I'd like to think that some of the essence of all the laughter that has been expended there over the last decade has somehow soaked into the stones and fabric of the place, and that the last chapter of its Rainbow Odessey is yet to be written.