It’s not ‘rocket science’ is it Jim?
Mike Jackson’s interview with Jim Emerton
1.Jim, you have been interviewed many times and describe yourself as, ‘an open book’. Is there anything left to say? What can you tell us that we do not know about you?
A. To be honest, I was a naive, awkward, and deeply sensitive, shy boy with deep insecurities and vulnerabilities. Eventually I grew a personality to cope with a hard world and the unusual demands of life and people. My feelings are expressed in my written work, which is very extensive, with complex and deep emotion, as I tend to be aloof to people.
2.Is there any advice would you give your younger self?
A. On due reflection, my younger self would have been less serious and hardworking and wiser at a young age. Shrewd now, I would have seen through people, the shallow tricks, and cons earlier, as I took too many risks that were life threatening in Asia and beyond, which could have been terminal e.g. in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
3.With racing suspended and the possibility of the racing season starting much later in what advice would you give fanciers at this time?
A. In love with my idea of promoting the total sport I love, I use my mind to help others, educate them and inspire them via ego-altruism. The 9 books, the interviews, the articles keep me on the game.
4.I have recently been appointed press officer for the BICC and I’m looking forward to reporting on the national and international races - in due course. What advice would you give me to make a success of this role?
A. My advice to fanciers is dig in, hope, and plan for the possible future. Marathon success has years of thought and plans in the process. Breed plenty, fly them out every day and be ready for racing to resume-we are. Visualise turning dreams into tangible reality.
5.You hold the record for the longest flying bird in race time in the BICC. Should fanciers try and break your record? If someone did, how would you feel?
A. Mike, you have a nice way with words, flair, sensitivity, and style. Reports need to be deep, probing, and original, and aim to be the most astute BICC reporter of all time-number 1, and then write a book. Do not get too stressed, makes you eccentric and mad like me.
6.In many sports people often compare the best from the past with the best of the present. In the recent virtual Grand National I heard a debate about which horse was better, Red Rum or Tiger Roll. Do you think this can be applied to pigeon racing?
A. My BICC record at 879 miles, could and should be broken. I want to retain it-it will not fall soon, and I may snuff it before it does! What will be, will be in RACE REALITY.
7.Include your own birds if you like, and name the most impressive marathon pigeons in the UK and Europe over recent years?
A. History is blessed my great champions, all great birds such as Barcelona Dream/Snydale Express/Tuff Nut/Circus Boy/The Legend. I prefer ones that go beyond 700 miles in speed/endurance events. Fast birds below 700 miles are common and frequent and often soon forgotten. However, human ideas on value are all subjective.
8.In, ‘Pigeon Racing - Advanced Techniques’, Jan Aerts writes, “It is important to remember that there is a considerable difference between the characteristics arising from heredity and those which are the result of the environment.” The perennial argument between nature and nurture. What are your views on this?
A. In Europe I did like Kleine Jade of Jelle Jellema yet choose my own as a strain. The 850 miles birds of pal Trevor Robinson have been slow but special at BICC Barcelona and the 700 mile plus Tarbes winners of Gordon/Shackleton and Winter are great. The great men produce good birds in their systems.
9.When explaining the qualities that a fancier should possess, Jan suggests: “Patience Character An observant eye The ability to concentrate and to plan.” Surely, he was thinking too deeply about this. Pigeon racing is not rocket science Jim, is it?
A. Performance is a fusion of the innate potential of the bird as a response to external, environmental stimuli including the fancier. Breeding and managements are key variables in the complex equation. Nature. / Nurture impacts on all life forms on planet earth, including man.
10.Turning to your management methods. You say that you prefer an open loft with, ‘selective separation’. Please describe this and how you implemented it?
A. Sophisticated, specialist, scientific, knowledge and the art and mind to practice them are in the minds and souls of the top men. To my mind’s eye it is more important than the rocket science cliché as you are dealing with performance animals that need your care. The clever minds learn the game.
11.With your speciality in mind (marathon racing, what else), I am going to present this scenario to you. You have a team of young birds, all from proven 700-mile stock, how do you prepare them in the year of their birth?
A. The essence of our system is free pigeons out flying in the natural elements for hard instinctual condition. Paired in March, separated after 10-day eggs, then out each sex during every day, we target the desire to rear the first young in July at Barcelona with a delayed nesting cycle.
12.Thinking about young birds, why do you think there are such high loses in training and racing?
A. As YB’s we fly them ranging far and wide on hoppers of our own marathon mix and pellets-all they can eat to grow mature. Training can be from 50 to 200 miles in racing-ideally, I test them all early down to potential quality for yearlings. They need confidence and contentment in a wide radius around home -hard, mature little natural buggers.
13.At the time of a human viral pandemic, thinking about a pigeon viral infection might not seem that important. But, what do you think can be done to manage young bird sickness?
A. High losses of YB’s are due to poor specimens/failure to navigate/ dehydration/predators. /obstacles/climate/weather/clashing /distance/age /poor fancier ship-feeding and breeding and a fusion of all these parameters.
14.A second scenario for you: you have a team of yearlings; it is the beginning of January and you want them to fly 400 miles. How do you prepare them for this?
A. Viruses and bacteria often run through the YB’s as sicknesses. Raise the immunity levels if you can by good management, give liquid feeding of probiotics and vits, and treat pathogenic bacteria with antibiotics. Anticipate some mortality and the viruses to run their course.
15.The final scenario - the ‘big prize’ one! You now have a team of 2-year olds that flew 400 miles as yearlings. It is the beginning of January and Barcelona is the first weekend of July. Explain in detail how you would prepare them for this race?
A. Yearlings paired in March on open loft, separated after 10-day eggs receive a 50-mile toss then are sent in the first 3 races of the BICC prog-mine went 466 miles NFC. Send every yearling beyond 400 miles on the full marathon diet. Cultivate everyone home for later-they will be your old birds.
16.Are there common myths in pigeon racing and what are the mistakes that people make when preparing pigeons for long distance?
A. As 2yr olds repeat the process as for yearlings, yet pair after race 3 BICC to rest and nest for Barcelona in July. Nick and I have a loft rule-every 2yr old must fly over 700 miles Barcelona International for a perch and to breed in the strain. We practice this objective each year to produce our own strain.
17.Thinking of the future, I’m not going to ask what you think can be done to improve pigeon racing, what I’d like to know is ‘what will pigeon racing look like in 10 years’?
A. Myths abound about the superiority and fantasy of foreign birds, through fame, publicity, and commerce. A distance bird is simply that-one that has flown 5 to 700 miles in RACE REALITY conditions. I believe in me and nothing else under the sun-a fool and his money are soon parted-I think, therefore I am. In preparing for distance races, do not sprint the birds on light diets, or pair in winter. Feed richly and bring them slowly on in the races to boost and peak for beyond 500 miles and keep patient and calm with the birds doing the work not YOU.
18. I think I am correct in saying that you no longer keep pigeons but mentor people, do you miss having a direct, hands on relationship with the birds?
A. In 10 years, if I live, members will have shrunk, one loft racing will grow, technology will expand, the great races will dominate in the big clubs. Men will still be jealous, argue and bicker and show human emotions. The sport will survive as an obsession for many.
19.Unless I have asked it, which would be a novelty indeed, is there a question that you would like to be asked but no one’s ever asked you?
A. I study nature each day on my walks and in the garden. Adopting a cerebral approach, I do not miss the practicalities of pigeons, as a busy, creative writer for the press and Mensa. I am on a constant buzz.