From The Chair
By Chris Williams
What a lovely surprise it was to receive a letter from a fancier in Durham by the name of John Luke , he had read the article “From The Chair memories of Belgium” and has kindly passed on a few details about pigeons of the late Maurice Voets of ‘Kessel. I really appreciate this gesture John Luke and thanks for taking the time to write to me.
Tuesday March 2nd saw a veil of early morning mist hang in the air as the cocks take flight, it is in these moments of reflective solitude that the pigeon fancier gathers his thoughts. Being involved with pigeons’ is the best thing I have done, as thanks to the sport I have made friends all over the world and thanks to the humble pigeon, I have visited parts of the world that I would not have had the chance to. I spend all day in one way, or another involved with the sport. Life and pigeons are for me inseparable and I would not want it any other way. When practiced the right way, pigeon sport is the perfect hobby. Before anyone jumps at me let me clarify what I mean by “the right way”. In a nutshell I mean enjoying them by appreciating the simple pleasures of pigeon racing, focusing on your own pigeons and doing your own thing as playing “keeping up with the neighbours” in this game is just to stressful and how do you know what they are doing is right for your birds? Each pigeon and fancier is different and there is no one size fits all approach, they sometimes try this in schools and from my own experience I can tell you this doesn’t work. A case and point being that Cerebral Palsy is an umbrella term that covers a variety of symptoms which effects individuals differently and yet during my secondary schooling the teachers constantly compared what I and another boy who also had Cerebral Palsy could and could not do. The same principle can be applied to the pigeon sport, each fancier must play to their own strength and its only by doing this that you get real pleasure from pigeons, after all that’s why we have them in the first place!
At our own lofts the first youngsters of 2021 have now been rung while the old birds are getting into their exercise regime around home and are now getting some what I call “snap “ in their wings which shows that the routine is starting to sink in. The legendry fancier the late Tommy Shaw of Stoke on Trent said it best “regularity breeds contentment and contentment brings on form”. If we think about this logically mankind is a creature of habit and as the pigeon is regarded as “mans oldest feathered friend” then it stands to reason that they too thrive on routine.
As the new season approaches fanciers will be busy stocking up on corn and other essentials for the racing season, here in Dorset fanciers are lucky to have Rodney Muspratt who supplies fanciers with a variety of top brands of corn. If anybody is interested call Rodney on 07775804091 .
I recently heard that Tony Stephens of Poole had been quite ill with Covid-19 but am happy to report he is on the mend. Tony is well respected by all within The Dorset Federation and his performances at the distance speak for themselves and I am sure I speak for all his friends in sending him good wishes for the season to come!
My admiration for the people and pigeons of the Emerald Isle is well documented, in my honest opinion the Irish fancy has one of the toughest race courses in the world crossing vast amounts of water. Racing from France into “the land of Saints and Scholars’ is no easy task. I came across a small article about one of Erin’s greatest fanciers Sandy Mairs of Millvale whose marvellous pigeon “Barcelona Bluebelle” made history being the first Irish pigeon to fly 1,000 miles when it flew 1,001 miles from Barcelona in 1965. I am sure this will be a great source of inspiration for todays marathon minded men in that corner of heaven across the Irish sea. Stories such as “Barcelona Bluebelle” help to kindle the imagination and passion of pigeon fanciers from all parts of the racing world and are a great source of motivation for those individuals who aspire toward racing greatness. According to the lamented Irish master of pigeon prose Liam O'Comain Barcelona Bluebelle” was a “magnificent flying machine', which was described by contemporises as being a well-muscled pigeon, who’s noble blood contained Jurion and Delmotte lines.
Now we are coming to the time of year where predatory raptors are most active and dangerous which in turn causes fanciers many sleepless nights and headaches to say the least. Speaking from our own experience we find the use of a hawk kite has helped. I have included a photograph of our kite that I purchased online, maybe other fanciers will find them useful, after all every little helps .
Readers will recall my great friend “Big John“ McNeill, who I mentioned in a previous article well he has since been in contact with news about some football team he supports, anyway hopefully once this pandemic is over we will have a much needed catch up but until then I have enclosed a photograph to remind myself what he looks like. Does this mean the drinks will be on you John?
Well looking at the clock it is time for me to put down my pen for this week and head to the loft. Until next time my friends enjoy your pigeons!
Sandy Mairs of Millvale with his pigeon Barcelona Bluebell, the first ever Irish pigeon to fly 1,000 miles when it flew 1,001 miles from Barcelona in 1965! This true racehorse of the sky also flew Nantes 4 times a 560 miles on each occasion.
Hawk kite in action
My mate “Big John" McNeill celebrating his team’s victory.