Appearances may be deceptive
The packaging does not count
I do not know how many times I said to my wife: "I might as well quit this sport."
This was always in winter. And always after I had handled pigeons at fellow fanciers. The reason is that they were so much more beautiful than mine.
And when I got home I looked at my birds disgustedly and it surprised me that they had raced so well.
Especially the pigeons of Fons were of a breathtaking beauty and were the reason that we stopped having exhibitions. At shows all trophies were his till we got tired of his one man shows.
I still remember as well how my club mates were staring at my pigeons then. Were those the pigeons that had beaten them week after week?
It took my sleep away, although not as bad as my first flame.
Her name was Nel.
Uglier names I did not know, neither girls that were more beautiful.
She had a body that caused traffic jams. Her smile, her blue eyes, her perfect curves grabbed you by the throat and made your heart beat faster.
Your body temperature rose 10 degrees and yet the blood in your veins congealed.
But our relationship did not last long.
She traded me for a classmate. Absolutely not handsome, far from smart, but' how could it be otherwise, loaded with money.
Some years later I saw that lucky(?) guy again. He looked pretty upset and I hardly dared to ask about his wife Nel.
But he brought her up himself. For three years they had been together and then she went away. With someone even richer than he.
Afterwards it became clear that this was the best thing that could have happened to him. Nel was only interested in three things . Money, money and money .
Any good? No one can tell.
Nel reminded me of the birds of Fons which also gave the impression that life was not fair. Until the birds had to do their job: Achieve good results.
Then the pigeons of Fons were like any other, or even less.
The reverse I also experienced.
That was in the loft of the late William Geerts who destroyed the races in the illustrious Federation Union Antwerpen a quarter of a century ago. Especially a bird called Kapoen was outstanding.
He had got it, together with a round of babies from the completely unknown Fonske Jacobs, a short distance guy.
The first time I visited him I will never forget. He showed me a checkered cock which was uglier than any bird that I had ever seen.
I wanted to be polite, said nothing, but he must have read the doubt in my eyes and said "that is my Kapoen".
I was shocked. How could see such an ugly bird be so good?
Of course this example is an exception. Naturally most good birds have little or no defects, but you are never sure. No one is.
It is about 10 years ago (how time flies) that I visited Leo Heremans for the first time together with my friend Willem.
And every time that we had handled pigeons at Leo"s it was painfully quiet in the car when we drove home.
In those days Leo had fewer birds than 10 year later. And better birds.
Still there was one bird that Willem nor me liked very much, an old rascal of which I still remember the last band numbers: "05". Born in 1993.
The band of the best bird I had ever known also ended in 05. This 05 (from Mr Vermeulen) was a miracle but born in a wrong time. That was before pigeon sport and commerce had found each other.
The 05 of Leo had in our eyes defects only.
But how wrong we were when judging this bird.
Leo called it "The good white flight ". It had won no less than 18 firsts and was one of his basic birds. Those 1st prizes were won from Quievrain, 120 kilometers only, but'
a descendant would win 1st National Argenton (33.097 bids) for M vd Velden against 33,097 birds, another would win 1st National Chateauroux (nearly 20,000 pigeons) for H Vlaminck.
That "good white flight " was a cross vd Pol x v d Bempt.
These names are probably unknown abroad but not here!
They were two old glories with better birds than many world famous names ever had.
Good luck sir
RIGHT OR NOT?
Leo had two so called total sales in 5 years time and for that he has been criticized a lot. But is he alone to blame about the ridiculous hype around his pigeons?
No one can deny his birds win. We can read about his winnings everywhere.
But nowhere can we read about the many bad birds he bred and sold.
I mentioned the names of v d Bempt and v d Pol.
Both are misjudged in our sport .
V d Bempt who lived in the same town as Leo (Vorselaar) was a simple man who shunned publicity.
V d Pol lived near me. Smart guys like Andre Roodhooft bought pigeons from him for very little money and how good they are is something that everybody in the province of Antwerp will confirm.
One good bird in every 50? I am afraid that is too optimistic
NOT SANTA CLAUS
The last two years alone no less than FIVE National Aces were directly bred from pigeons of mine.
Also "Fleur" from Jespers vd Wegen, sometimes described as the best breeding hen of Belgium came directly from my loft, as well as "Bubbles" from Verkerk , sometimes described as the best breeding hen from Netherlands .
Do you think I would have given or sold them these birds if I had known their enormous breeding value?
I try to treat people well, but ... I am not Santa Claus and I am one who thinks of himself in the first place.
I do not find myself extremely foolish but still I sold pigeons I never should have sold and I kept still more that I had never should have kept.
Most good pigeons, especially for races from 500 to 700 kilometers are perfectly built birds, but' as I said, not all. There are exceptions.
I have raced birds for many years, but still: Those who think if I can see if a pigeon is any good are wrong. If you grade a bird the best thing to say is "it is no good". Because most birds are no good. Except in auction lists.