WHEN TO GIVE UP AND SAY STAND
Should I set up ringing as soon as it goes wrong or as soon as I realise I can’t put it right?
An aside here; you say that you set up ringing when it goes wrong. I think it’s usually preferable (from the listening public’s point of view) if the ringing is either allowed to continue and brought round or quickly called into rounds for a neater finish. In any case calling Stand straight away is not essential. Even if a couple of bells are over, it’s useful to get to the end of the 120 to prove it!
In my experience, the better the conductor the earlier a fire up gets set up. Good conductors know a lost cause when they see one, whereas less experienced conductors let ringing flounder expecting or vainly hoping it will sort itself out. So if there is a fire up and you don’t know what is going on, shout stand early and it will make the ringers realise they have gone wrong, rather than you proving to yourself that you couldn’t sort it out. The longer you leave it the more you look as though you were responsible for sorting it but couldn’t. The worst thing that can happen to you as a conductor is for someone else to decide a piece of ringing is terminal and set their bell before you decide it.
Setting up is difficult – even more so if you haven’t organised the band, and don’t perhaps understand all the circumstances. In a peal, I am usually prepared to give it up to an hour to see if things improve, particularly if something new is being rung. Sometimes it is clear that it is not going to go, so you stop it more quickly. Usually, you should make some announcement that it is unsatisfactory and you will stop it if it doesn’t improve. The problem comes when it improves marginally, you give it leeway and, before you know, you are over halfway, when it becomes much more difficult to stop. You will inevitably be criticised by someone – in both directions. I never aim to be entirely consistent, otherwise you become a hostage. You must always feel free to set it up – I’ve set peals of maximus up after 21/2 hours and peals of major 4 leads from the end. Other times I have recognised extenuating circumstances for carrying on.