The Joe Murphy Column
As it is the end of the year, I thought I would go through my old photographs and pick some out as a way of cheering myself and hopefully some readers of my column up and take our minds off the ‘madness’ that is going on around the world; at this time. We always remember people who were close to us during this time of the year, more so if they were involved in our sport.
Obviously, our son Kevin is never far from our daily thoughts. He like Margaret and I loved the pigeons and I have included a photo of the 3 of us when he timed in his ‘My Little Rachel’ to win 4th open SNFC Alencon.
Joe Kevin & Margaret Murphy
This blue hen contained the bloodlines of another dear old friend whom we have also lost; Ian Gilmour of Leven and his wonderful SNFC winner ‘Robbie’s Boy’, who was named after Ian’s brother, whom I participated about with when I was 14/15 years old.
Then there was my old pal from Arbroath ‘The one and only’ Jim George i.e., ‘Round O’ and Jim Renwick who were both scribes of the BHW for a long time; and both encouraged me to take up the ‘pen’ and cover the Fife area; which I did then; but now cover our sport up here in Scotland.
I wasn’t as regular with the pen when I took on a job as a lorry driver with Kestrel Kitchens as I used to leave home on a Monday and cover the area from Fife to Glasgow, Ayr; Stranraer, Dumfries up to Langholm. Then the next day arrive home and loaded up for the next day, and on Wednesday travelled north via Dundee, Forfar; Aberdeen sometimes meeting up with Dave Pirie and Gibby Reed. Then up to Peterhead; where I would meet up with the pigeon lads after doing my drops at the shops. I used to spend the evenings; with Jim Wiseman; Anne & Jim Donaldson, Irvine Buchan & sometimes George Duthie. We had some great nights talking about ‘pigeons’ and having a good laugh.
3 North Section SNFC Winners Stuart Maskame Jim Donaldson and Dave Pirie
After I quite the driving job, I then started doing my column on a more weekly basis; away back in 2005 I remember reporting on the SNFC Tours winner ‘Petite Rose’. At that time, I did not have a computer or was able to type. So, I used to phone up the national winners and obtain details of their winning bird. Margaret and I would sit down and re-write the details and on a Sunday night Linda Richards from the BHW would go to the office in Welshpool and phone me for the National report. After she had obtained all the information, she would type this up and it appeared in the Thursday issue of the BHW. I remember Tom McEwen phoning me on the morning the paper came out and he could not believe that his winning pigeon was being highlighted so quickly after the race. Whereas now it is much easier to obtain the details of the winners and have it typed and forwarded via email to the pigeon press for publication that same week. I also started up the ‘Joe Murphy/BHW Sporting Challenge’ (see logo).
This highlighted some of the best long-distance pigeons and fanciers who raced into Scotland. Including my two good friends Andy Miller & Barry Kinnear.
Two Gold Cup Winners Andy Miller and Barry Kinnear
I cannot finish the year without mentioning Billy Bilsland who won 14 national races with his team of pigeons; he will be a big loss the sport. Going back to my review; A few jobs and years later I started working in a ‘care home’ and undertook the training and further education to obtain my Higher National Certificate in Social Work and was promoted to a Senior Social Care Worker. My last job was working with the Deaf & Blind and I loved the job, but unfortunately, I took a heart attack and had to stop working. May I wish everyone a Happy New Year; let us hope that this year will be much better than 2022; which for some people has been a nightmare. The most important thing for ALL of US is our health, and here we are still having to deal with Covid; and all problems with the hospitals and health service. It seems like we are away back in time to the dreaded Edward Heath and Margaret Thatcher governments. Plus, we have the war in the Ukraine it seems like the whole world has gone ‘mad’; the one shining light in the whole episode is Volodymyr Zelenskyy who has been named the 2022 ‘Person of the Year’. Let us pray that 2023 can only get better.
14 times Scottish national winner Billy Bilsland
THE CAB RIDE
For about twenty years I drove a cab for a living. When I arrived at my pickup point at 02:30am, the building was dark except for a single light in a ground floor window. Under these circumstances, many drivers would just honk once or twice, wait a minute, and then drive away. But I had seen too many impoverished people who depended on taxis as their only means of transportation. Unless a situation smelled of danger, I always went to the door. This passenger might be someone who needs my assistance, I reasoned to myself. So, I walked to the door and knocked. 'Just a minute', answered a frail, elderly voice. I could hear something being dragged across the floor. After a long pause, the door opened. A small woman in her 80's stood before me. She was wearing a print dress and a pillbox hat with a veil pinned on it, like somebody out of a 1940s movie. By her side was a small nylon suitcase. The apartment looked as if no one had lived in it for years. All the furniture was covered with sheets. There were no clocks on the walls, no knickknacks or utensils on the counters. In the corner was a cardboard box filled with photos and glassware. 'Would you carry my bag out to the car?' she said. I took the suitcase to the cab, and then returned to assist the woman. She took my arm and we walked slowly toward the kerb. She kept thanking me for my kindness 'It's nothing', I told her. 'I just try to treat my passengers the way I would want my mother treated'. 'Oh, you're such a good boy', she said. When we got in the cab, she gave me an address, and then asked, 'Could you drive through downtown?' 'It's not the shortest way,' I answered quickly. 'Oh, I don't mind,' she said. 'I'm in no hurry. I'm on my way to a hospice'. I looked in the rear-view mirror. Her eyes were glistening. 'I don't have any family left,' she continued. ‘'The doctor says I don't have very long.' I quietly reached over and shut off the meter. 'What route would you like me to take?' I asked. For the next two hours, we drove through the city. She showed me the building where she had once worked as an elevator operator. We drove through the neighbourhood where she and her husband had lived when they were newlyweds. She had me pull up in front of a furniture warehouse that had once been a ballroom where she had gone dancing as a girl. Sometimes she'd ask me to slow in front of a particular building or corner and would sit staring into the darkness, saying nothing. As the first hint of sun was creasing the horizon, she suddenly said, 'I'm tired. Let's go now'. We drove in silence to the address she had given me. It was a low building, like a small convalescent home, with a driveway that passed under a portico. Two orderlies came out to the cab as soon as we pulled up. They were solicitous and intent, watching her every move. They must have been expecting her. I opened the trunk and took the small suitcase to the door. The woman was already seated in a wheelchair. 'How much do I owe you?' she asked, reaching into her purse.’ ‘Nothing,' I said. 'You have to make a living,' she answered. 'There are other passengers,' I responded. Almost without thinking, I bent and gave her a hug. She held onto me tightly. 'You gave an old woman a little moment of joy,' she said. 'Thank you.' I squeezed her hand, and then walked into the dim morning light. Behind me, a door shut. It was the sound of the closing of a life. I didn't pick up any more passengers that shift. I drove aimlessly lost in thought. For the rest of that day, I could hardly talk. What if that woman had gotten an angry driver, or one who was impatient to end his shift? What if I had refused to take the run, or had honked once, then driven away? On a quick review, I don't think that I have done anything more important in my life. We're conditioned to think that our lives revolve around great moments. But great moments often catch us unaware-beautifully wrapped in what others may consider a small one.
PEOPLE MAY NOT REMEMBER EXACTLY WHAT 'YOU DID, OR WHAT YOU SAID, BUT THEY WILL ALWAYS REMEMBER HOW YOU MADE THEM FEEL.
Wishing You ALL a Happy New Year!!!!
© Compiled by Joe Murphy