A New or Modern Kind of Pigeon
You have to be quite old (I’m 82) before you can tell the real difference between the good and the bad - between the real pigeon and the pretend pigeon - between the good fancier and the pretend fancier. These are all deep questions of which history or time tends to sort out for us. When it comes to here and now and being modern we often back completely the wrong thing and what is worse we do it time and again in every age.
This brings me on to what is happening in the sport today. There has emerged quite recently (within the last 10 or 15 years) a new or different kind of modern pigeon and a new and different kind of modern fancier. The traditional top loft and top pigeons of yesteryear such as 'Twilight' - 'Cinderella' - ‘News Lad’ and many of the multiple performance British pigeons Louella used to buy have now been surpassed in the public mind by pigeons that put up excellent performances but for only one year only after which they are never heard of again although the loft becomes famous and thought of by the majority to be the real thing.
How this is achieved is open to question (I have written about the sprint aspect previously) but this modern system that concentrates on one year achievement now includes Long Distance pigeons. The system runs counter to what used to happen. In the old days top pigeons that performed well were the reference birds of families or strains of pigeons. It was these quality birds that were expected to regenerate the loft and breed future top pigeons. Under this new system this is no longer the case. Pigeons fly outstandingly well for only one year and are then fail in later years. They fail because a constant 'buying in' of stock is also a vital part of this modern one year system. The system requires a steady stream of new pigeons bred from imported stock to replace those that are spent.
To attempt to understand what is going on I have now adopted a habit of noting ring numbers and year of birth from published results. A pattern is beginning to emerge. Outstanding one year performances are usually achieved by relatively young pigeons or distance pigeons you would not expect to have reached their peak under traditional racing methods.
I shall continue with my research, but my initial reaction is that these outstanding 'one year' pigeons are not good for the sport and do not create 'Strain Building’, real creative lofts or real creative fanciers who are interested in breeding as well as racing. This new attitude instead creates a poor alternative, that of short term commercial success. Looking inwardly at myself it is possible that I could be driven by envy or a reluctance to move with the times. I may be one of those fanciers who sees a golden age in everything that happened in the past. I myself don’t think so but I am sure this charge will be levelled against me. Nevertheless, which ever happens to be the case many fanciers will not be aware of this new phenomena or understand how modern pigeons are now raced. As far as I know no one has ever written about it before or attempted to understand what is happening and how the pigeon world is changing.
This whole story has the makings of a Dickens novel. The novel would trace London characters like Wally Pope in the fog and mist of the Thames. It would gradually move up river past the Royal Palaces of Westminster - Hampton Court and Windsor to finally reach characters in the Regency towns and cities of the Cotswolds. From my point of view the novel would be a tragedy, others might think it a triumph of human ingenuity derived from modern thinking. Like all good novels the choice would be down to the reader.