There was a certain feeling of relief in the air as the Methods Committee met at Tony Smith's house in Winchester for its October committee meeting. Relief as this was the first meeting in what could be called the post-Variable Cover era. The Council meeting in Cambridge in the spring had voted to accept Variable Cover peals by adopting our proposed changes to its Decisions, so we were all looking forward to a meeting which would not be dominated by what had become the great variable cover debate.
Our first topic of discussion, prompted by a peal rung at Barrow Gurney earlier in the year, was enough to make some of us wish we were talking about Variable Cover again. In brief it concerned the use of abbreviations (in particular the use of St for Saint) in method names. Was it reasonable to have two different methods, one whose name was spelled Saint George's Day, and one spelt St George's Day? A number of interesting observations were made. Saint and St are pronounced differently, St isn't necessarily an abbreviation for Saint. Should punctuation be taken into account (S. T. Georges might be the name of a Frenchman)? In the end we concluded that having two different methods with such similar names was likely to be confusing, but this is actually a question for the council itself to decide upon, rather than solely a Methods Committee matter.
The next topic was a slightly awkward question of what to do about 219 triples methods. These methods were named when they were rung for the first (and we believe only) time in a peal of 360 triples methods in June 1974. While these 219 methods are acceptable as methods, unfortunately another 40 of the 360 didn't (and still don't) conform with the decisions. Should we continue to include these 219 in the collection of plain triples methods? We decided that they wouldn't have been included if anyone had noticed that the peal was invalid at the time when it was rung, so therefore they should go. Of course there is a simple solution to our problem. If anyone wants a challenge and would like to claim the record number of triples methods to a peal, we have a composition with 360 valid methods including the 219 ...
In the time remaining, we discussed publications and committee work for the forthcoming year. We have been investigating producing a 4-way table of Treble Dodging minor methods containing all of the methods in the current collection, though we are having problems identifying a cost-effective way of printing it on A0 paper.
We also considered possible extensions to the decision on extensions, and possible ways of altering the decisions on methods to allow a wider range of Differential-style methods than are currently permitted. At the risk of sounding reactive rather than proactive, we would prefer not to make changes just for their own sake, but to reflect the concerns and interests of ringers, so if you have thoughts or opinions please let us know.
The Ringing World, January 23, 1998, page 78