The Tower Handbook

12.3 Looking after a touch

a: How long should I wait before calling Go?

The initial rounds should be more than just something that happens before you start the real ringing. It allows people to settle down, to feel comfortable with their bells and if necessary adjust their rope length. It also allows them to work out whether their bells are odd struck and adjust their rhythm to compensate. Odd struckness is far harder to diagnose once ringing changes, because so much else is changing all the time.

How long you wait depends on the band and the bells. The best guide is the rhythm. If it is steady and even, then call 'go'. If not, wait a while. If one bell is not settling, can you see what the problem is? Could you give any helpful advice? Don't expect a perfect rhythm with an inexperienced band. You must judge whether it is as good as it will get, and then call 'go'. If it is obvious from the rounds that the changes will fall apart, there is little point in going into changes. Set up the bells and try to sort out the problem before trying again.

b: When should I call the ringing round?

That depends on the objective of the touch. Every touch should be rung for one or more of four reasons:

The balance between these will be different for service ringing, practice ringing, peal ringing, etc, but good ringing will meet most of them. The ringing should be called round if it no longer meets the appropriate aims for the occasion. The lowest demands are made at a practice, but even so if the ringing deteriorates beyond a certain point it does not benefit those taking part and should be called round. You must judge between a bad patch that may recover and a mess that will not. In the latter case do not let the ringing just crash on. Call rounds and perhaps have another go.

c: Should I stand the bells instead of calling them round?

If there is an emergency, then call stand at once, but otherwise, it is much better to call the bells round before standing. To those listening outside, it sounds as if you have struggled to completion rather than abandoning your efforts in failure. Even a disastrous touch can be completed with a few good rounds. Wait until you do get good rounds, reminding the band if necessary, eg 'Let's have some rounds before we stop'. It is a useful discipline. It may take slightly longer but helps end the touch on a positive note.

d: Should I try again if the first attempt fails?

It all depends on why it failed. Many fire ups are triggered by a combination of small errors that could otherwise have been corrected, so it is usually worth having one (or two) more attempts if there is time. You might be luckier second time round. But if the cause is more deep seated and likely to be repeated, then it is better to stop and solve the problem, or try something different.

If someone has learnt the work wrongly, the same thing will go wrong every time. Stopping to discuss it could help solve the problem. Perhaps there are too many inexperienced people in the band at once. Stopping to replace some with steadier hands while the less experienced take turns would be more rewarding than just crashing on. The people in question may get half as much ringing, but it will be more worthwhile. You need to be tactful when asking someone to stand out this time. Make sure they have another go afterwards too. If the whole band is shaky and does not really know the method, then the only answer is to go away and learn it more thoroughly.

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