Latest from Les J Parkinson
I had a call from Chris Cooper a few weeks ago telling me that Mel Bratt was going through a rough time. I speak to a lot of fanciers from time to time just to keep in touch with what is going on in the pigeon world. I have been speaking to Mel for quite some time because he was in contact with Mick & Margaret O’Grady.
Mick has had a bad run of ill health but when I last spoke to Margaret, she said they were getting on with life. Getting back to Mel, after Chris had called me, I contact Yvonne who was telling that Mel was in bed and not feeling well. I called again a few days later and had a lengthy conversation with Mell abut all sorts of things, from pigeons as expected and I also expect to a certain extent Coronavirus. We were discussing pigeon racing in the 70’s when clubs were much stronger than they are today. Mel was saying a member in his own way said to Mel he was too old to and win with pigeons, wrong thing to say. I remember a similar thing said to me in 2002, we came away with a box of trophies and the fed grand averages. I think some of today’s younger members don’t realise us old fogies were racing in clubs of 30 plus flying members send 350/400 birds plus per week and even more in some clubs with 600 plus. Nowadays you get the odd good flyer in most clubs with the rest being average and on the same par as each other, don’t get me wrong there are still some big clubs about but not as many as there used to be. In the 70’s in most clubs there were several fanciers working hard to reach the top. There was always someone in each club who stood out, in Middlewich it was the late Denis Gleave. At the time I considered Denis one of the best in the country and on reflection I still do. Fanciers like Denis made other members in the club work hard to try and beat him, the result being better overall fanciers. We also discussed presentations and there were many good ones in those days. You went up to the prize table to a great round of applause because there was so many attending. Unfortunately, that is not the case today, if you get a ripple of applause you are lucky. The bigger and specialist clubs are still well supported but again nowhere near as good as they used to be. Yes, if you wind some of the older members up, they can still show the younger generation how to race a good pigeon. That wind up has seen Mel have two good seasons, pity his wings are clipped for this year, he has a good team that can continue to win. During the 46yrs I raced (had them well over 60yrs) the glory days when fanciers had good events and there were 30 plus members sending each week. The glory days in pigeon racing started on the decline towards the end of the last Century. Don’t get me wrong there are good races and good events but not as they used to be. Racing pigeons is still a great hobby to be in.
Messing things up.
With the coronavirus messing up our lives we have been doing far less talking to our neighbours, and the times of having drinks are on hold. Conversations have been at a distance which has seen a few raised voices across the road. When I was young my dad used to say things and as children you don’t really listen to a lot of what is said. I now find myself in the same position of talking to the younger generation and saying things that remind me of what dad used to say all those years ago, at times it is like an echo in my head. Matthew who lives across the road is probably a late 70’s child and we were recently talking about the situation we find ourselves in. He was saying the coronavirus attacks the system more in the warmer weather, to which I disagreed. The reason I disagreed was because the further north you go the less people are suffering. I went on to tell him that people of my generation saw snow and freezing weather for weeks on end in the 50’s and to a certain extent the early 60’s. During that time, it was always said the freezing weather killed off a lot of the bugs that people now catch. We did not have central heating and the windows were even frozen on the inside and we had to scrape it off in the morning to see outside. Also, in those days there were a lot of self-made plumbers because the pipes froze up so often. Now we hear of pigeon fancier’s lung, but I often wonder how much of it is down to people being softer with central heating and the climate change. I say that because in my younger days we did not hear of so many people having asthma, this was increased no end after central heating came into our homes. Not everything that appears to be good is of use to us. Having said all that, I have just heard the authorities thin we could still be in this position 6 months down the road. One thing is for certain we are not likely to get any racing this year, even so we can hope.
Why are there so many losses?
Having said the above if things go as fanciers hope and we get some racing in the later end of the season we might do better than many have been doing, when it comes to losses over the years. Loses is a problem that many have their views on, and clashing is one problem that is more likely to affect the youngsters and a point that has been raised many times over the years. I am more than inclined to agree with many fanciers from the North West on the point that too many liberation's take place on the west side of the country. There is no doubt that a lot of problems are being caused by liberations across the country instead of working on the basis that liberations need to be more on a line in comparison to the line of the country and not more north to south or vis versa on latitude. Having said that it is not possible for everyone because of their home/loft location. The reason we know that there are problems is because there is more than a fair share of especially young birds reported on the eastern side of the country. We do know that there is still the east west divide but that is always going to be the case no matter where we race from. There has to be a point where the powers that be step in and set guidelines for liberation's, I say guidelines because there are fanciers who are not in a position to corridor fly. Such guidelines and corridors would more than likely only affect counties mainly from the lower Midlands south of that is a problem because of distances involved to the coast. However, the views of many are that there must be a cut-off point somewhere and the governing bodies are the only people who can sort this one out. There is no way that some organisations are going to do it by themselves for the good of the sport because let us face it most fanciers are only looking out for themselves and I do say most. I was talking to a fancier who reported a youngster in Yorkshire on this subject and he was saying that many from the east side of the country like to get their young birds over in the west because of National racing. When I asked why he said that they were looking for a breaking point to get them on a good line. It does look as if this pays off because you only have to look at the National results as a whole to know where the birds are and that the prevailing winds send them in that direction. Let's get back to the losses and reasons that have been discussed. I have always said that liberators should also come into the reckoning, they are the people who can help solve at least part of the problem. Many also believe that a fair percentage have been down to the birds being liberated when the conditions are not right the problem is the weather changes so quickly in the UK. By this I am referring to the fact that pigeons have not left the liberation site so the convoyers are not aware of local problems. I recall many years ago Mike O'Grady was telling me about a training toss that he gave to his pigeons and they wouldn't clear, even though it looked a good day a local soon told him why and he was spot on. This is something that can quite easily happen at the race point and with a little local advice could help with the safe return of our pigeons and better racing all round. I know for a fact that on several occasions' when I have been training the pigeons have been liberated, only to fly around the race point for as much as an hour or even more with the weather looking good. This does happen and the fanciers are waiting at home wondering where their pigeons have got too. They are there asking themselves "What have I do wrong" Most fanciers pigeons have been trained and sent right so should in theory put up at least a reasonable effort. Wait a moment, these points mean changes and we are aware that changes in life are often frowned upon no matter how much they would improve life.
For those who bred early they have a lot of pigeons to feed for a longer period of time, because they are not training, and racing fanciers are losing no pigeon. No doubt if many had the foresight to see this happening they would not have bred so early in the season and would not have had to feed a team of young birds for 4/5 months extra. I am a few weeks ahead with these notes so by the time they get published things could have changed and we might be on the right side, we can only hope and at the moment that’s all it is, hope.
I am getting a flat bum spending all the time pressing keys on the PC and I still have to look at the keys that I am pressing. You would think that after 43yrs of typing articles I would know where each key is but I don’t. There is an advantage to writing articles on a PC and typing onto a word document rather than direct onto an email. The latest PC’s have all sorts of things on them besides spell check they also highlight where they think you can change things to make them read better. All scribes should be tying on a word doc and emailing the word doc and not an email with the article typed straight onto. I am also spending a bit of time and I do mean a bit of time in the garden because we have artificial turf and the borders only need the hoe going over them once a week. Everything is growing well but because of all the damp a few have a type of leaf mould on them, that’s the best way I can explain because I know little about plants. The school where I went had an allotment and I spent quite a bit of time there, think Travis knew I was into lessons. I stayed with gardening when I moved to Acton where they have the Nantwich show. In my late teens I started to have other things on my mind so forgot about gardening and apart from the normal garden jobs I never really got back into it. Don’t even have any lawn anymore, the drive at the front was widened and the back garden is mostly made up of artificial turf so no lawn mower needed anymore.
Pair of pigeons.
We have the solar panels on the house roof for electricity and there is a pair of pigeons that keep turning up looking for a nesting place underneath them or that’s what it looks like. Tried calling them down, they look but had no luck, even Elizabeth has been out and called them. I don’t know where they go to, they stay for a while, look all-round the panels get close up and then later in the day disappear. I regretted not keeping the pair in the box on the side of the summer house and have looked at the space on more than one occasion but got no further with it.
I am weeks in front with the article that I have been sending to the magazine, so this is a late correction. In the last edition of March, I mentioned Southfield Supreme who is in fact a Van Elsacker not Euro Diamond. Thanks for reminding me Dave Phillips.
I have included 5 photos from the 50’s and 60’s. Only a handful who I have met, bit before my time. I can recognise the likes of Charlie Wilkinson, Frank Garner, a rather young Bill Gray, Bill baker and probably a couple more if I studied them. Elizabeth recognised a couple more Alf Garner and Joe Moss.