Views and News from Les J Parkinson
As with everything else in life pigeon racing has moved forward with the advancement of technology. The World Wide Web was a giant step forward because it made communication around the world much easier. In seconds we can now talk via emails to people on the other side of the world, we can also see them through skype which has come on leaps and bounds. I am one of the lucky ones from the older generation who through work has used computers for many years. That was not the case when I first started writing, in the 70’s I used an old typewriter, which I think is still in the attic. In those days we had the advantage of using tippex for mistakes and later the white strips that also covered mistakes. It was the early 80’s when I started to work on a PC which was OK but well below the standards of today’s multi use computers. You can do so much with them which has made writing articles so much easier. When you read back over them you can add anything you want plus you can change anything that does not read correct. Anyone can write articles now because the PC corrects grammar and spelling so no matter what level anyone was at when they were at school, the PC is here to help you. There is no need to be afraid of them, they can soon be corrected, they reset themselves. The communication between fanciers is so much better through social media, unfortunately anything that can be good can also be used in an abusive way which some do, and that ends up being no good to anyone. I have spoken to a few people about social media and what they have written, it appears it is a case of, “Seemed a good thing to write at the time” obviously not put their brain into gear. However, after the event most regret what they have written but it is too late, the damage to all parties is done. It is a fact of life that people go on social media and do not think before they write, this happens in all walks of life, not just in the pigeon world. When it comes to writing about what goes on in pigeon racing the whole world see it and at time those words are not good for the sport, and they are certainly not going to encourage anyone to join the sport. Going back to technology I am having good reports on the RPRA results system but with racing being put back it has not been tested to see if it will work in the best interests of the fancy.
The problem with technology is, the average age in the sport is not low and therefore many are not confident to use computers. Even the latest mobile phones have so much on them you can do all sorts of things. You can even have your ETS connected to your phone to tell you when the pigeons arrive which is brilliant for training. A lot of fanciers rely on their children/grandchildren to do things on the PC for them. I must admit, at times I go to Kim to sort things out, she is good when it comes to the latest technology. And I have been using the PC for the best part of 40yrs, the early days was with work. I have to admit I ask Kim about doing something and sometimes when it arrives again have forgotten the solution so have to go back to Kim, it is an age thing. I am a little impatient at times and do not think back to when I was told before. Anyway, getting back to that actual racing side of pigeons it looks like the earliest races are going to be in at least June and more likely after that unless there is a drastic change. One thing is for sure if we do not get any channel racing in there will be no shortage of pigeons in the loft come the autumn. This just might do some lofts good because it will give fanciers a chance to leave their birds for another year instead of pushing them too much as yearlings. This would then see lofts with a few older birds and a good team of 2yo’s when they might be at their best.
You do not know how much you miss something until it's not there, in this case I am referring to racing the pigeons and sport in general. I talk to some people and it's as if they have withdrawal symptoms, whether through not be able to race the pigeons or watching sport on the TV. Myself I am missing the F1 series which is something I watch religiously no matter what time of the day or night it is; I have to watch it live to get the right feeling for the race. Other sports I can take or leave but I do like to watch a good game of football but do not go out of my way to watch. The only problem with football is there are too many trying to cheat through falling over when they have been touched by a feather. Having said that most of the football I watch is when we have visitors, Alan, or Steve who both like to watch football. Alan is a season ticket holder with Crewe Alex, we all have a cross to bear. I also like darts and when the Premier League is on Thursday night, I am texting Kieran throughout the games about how they are playing, he is keener than me when it comes to darts. I was talking to one of our neighbours who is working from home due to circumstances. He was saying how dull it all is without sport to watch or even compete in and he is far from being on his own on that front. He did say it is alright for pigeon men, they have them at the bottom of the garden so can go down and see to them, I said, it is not like racing David. Yes, until something is not there you do not realise just how much you miss it, no matter what we look at. I still have the web site to work on and talk to a lot on the phone for one reason or another plus the writing so I have plenty going on and there are the emails so a busy time no matter what. What does annoy me is how some people jump on the money wagon and are after pay outs that they do not deserve. The way some are hiking their prices to take advantage of what people in dire straits need. When things get back to normal members of the public should not support them, would serve them right. There reports on TV are that since the coronavirus started there have been many frauds totalling £1.3 million, they want locking up, permanently.
A question that often comes up is “What type of bird wins at what distance” the answer is simple, "All sorts" but the question should be "In what numbers and what percentage are they winning" Pigeon racing and the type of pigeon we race has changed over the years and they vary from one distance to another. This is mostly to do with the fashion of the day because if there is often a lot of publicity on a particular line so more people want them. As we are all aware there is always the exception to the rule but as a rule of thumb there is not a great deal of exceptional pigeons at set distances, let me add that there are many good pigeons. By that I am talking of multiple winners, yes there are a lot of pigeons winning at most distances, but exceptional pigeons are few in any loft, in fact few lofts can boast a team of exceptional pigeons. You often find that good lofts have a good team backing one another up week after week. There are fanciers who have several consistent pigeons in their lofts and that makes that loft stand out and bring their overall performances to the front over the racing season. Years ago, the distance pigeons were generally bigger and longer cast, they were pigeons like the good-looking Dordins and such families. Then over the years the top fanciers started to breed to type and the sprinter became a powerhouse and as the saying goes "Built like a brick s__t house" The power was bred into the shoulders and when you handle the majority of today's top sprinters they are like wedges. These are the pigeons that win when they have to work hard and power their way home; even in a tail wind they show their strength. Having said that in a tail wind we have to consider the exception to the rule because there always is one. I remember many years ago selling at auction the pigeons of the late Mike Young who had an excellent team of pigeons. When I handled then they were as with many other distance families, a smaller type that did not need to put as much effort into getting home. Their quality was reflected in the top distance lofts who were in attendance and after them, one thing was for sure they were not going to win in the show pen. On the other hand, the majority of sprinters would win in the show pen because they are bred to strength and their strength makes them look good. The same went for the distance lines in the late Bob Lewis pigeons, they were in demand and neither had much in the line of paperwork but they did attract high prices. This is the difference with distance minded fanciers and sprint to middle distance fanciers, the distance fancier never used to bother too much about paperwork. However, the sprint to middle distance fancier wants the pedigree with everything on them, does that make any difference, I do not think so, good pigeons is what we all want. There are a few who go for type and the best of luck to them, you go for what you want but if you want to win you need to go for good quality pigeons that have the right breeding around them. If they are bred right then you will get the best out of them sooner or later, not all pigeons are going to suit and at times we have to give and take in order that we breed the right pigeons. The days of the big bulky Dordins have gone, the beautiful pigeons that won in the show pen and also on the road. Even the Dordins that were housed at Elimar were not as big as they were when we first brought them in the early 70’s. Times change and in the modern day of racing pigeons the winning fanciers are becoming more and more selective and breeding pigeons to do a job. What happens in the modern days of racing pigeons is, a line of pigeons get’s a great deal of publicity and everyone wants them. All of a sudden, an average loft of pigeons is suddenly flooding the market and most lofts have them therefore they have to be diluted down and the performances are not as good. This results in many not getting the best performances out of them and wonder why. I do think fanciers give up too easy when they bring in new pigeons, they are not given enough time to find out whether they are going to win or not. If more had patience in their new introductions they would achieve better results. When I first started racing the view was that you need to give them 3yrs, that was because most lofts flew the programme and the distances were different in those days. You may think that sounds odd but it wont to fanciers racing in the 60’s and 70’s. In those days 400 to 500mls was consider a distance race but not today, they are middle distance races.
Still on the subject of families but I do not know whether or not it is me or are we seeing more and more fanciers crossing their pigeons here in the UK. It has been a tradition for many years for fanciers to report their winners as pure this or pure that but I think there is a change of direction from some of the winners. Crossing pigeons is what has made the Belgium fanciers so competitive and when they start winning and their pigeons arrive over here, they are classed as pure. But those who visit the continent are fully aware that there is no such thing as a pure strain even on the continent. The Belgium fanciers have always worked on the basis that they bring in youngsters off the top pigeons, which is why they maintain a high standard of winning. I have seen pigeons advertised as pure Vandenabeele's which not strictly true because if you study Gaby's stock book you could see the different pigeons and that goes for practically all the fanciers on the continent. Pedigree's highlight how they bring other pigeons into his stock loft and they are generally from top pigeons. I dare bet that there are lofts in this country that have purer strains than many from abroad and if they are, they are very often distance pigeons. Over the years I have seen in the local weekly notes bring such issues to my attention because I see it week in and week out. So, when you are looking for new pigeons to bring into your loft do not just think strain think good pigeons. Good sound bred pigeons are what strengthen your team and keep it on a par with other winning lofts, mind you the work needs putting into the pigeons first. Peter Fox is one fancier who has done it for years and produced many excellent pigeons.
I had an email regarding cheating related to my article a few weeks ago, this was only one of several. "Les. Reading this week's article got me to thinking more than 10 years ago my partner was putting something in the water we manage our lofts separately I was offered this medication by a prominent fancier whom I had done several favours and I refused to use it but unknown to myself my partner did use it he was timing pigeons well in front of me each week on the inland races we entered 20 YB’s into the BBC race from Lamballe when we basketed the young pigeons he put 8 all prize-winners in I put them in the basket to find the February bred young pigeons had only moulted 1 or 2 flights and were muscled right up, click went my head and I said “what the flipping eck” Have you been doing to these pigeons they held the pigeons over for a couple of days I had five on the day from 12 he had none all his prize-winners missing I had a heated discussion with him and told him in no uncertain terms that he stop using the medication or we dissolve the partnership I've thought about this many times since I no longer worry myself about other people's results because there are still a good number of fanciers using performance enhancing substances being the chairman of the West of England south road combine I keep the transporters at my farm and do a certain amount of crate cleaning and I see YB crates with no moulted feathers and think to myself it's still going on the person that supplied the medication has now passed away but he was a well-known and respected fancier food for thought keep writing cheers "