Memories from abroad (Jan 8th)
Who has not experienced things in his life that he will never forget? They may be the craziest things and they differ from one person to the other. I was with Bosua in Japan. If you would ask him what he found remarkable he may say other things than I would. Ii will tell you some of my reminders, so quite personal.
America I found fantastic. Especially since everything was arranged by M Ganus. What stood out?
- Everything is so much bigger. The cars, the trucks, malls, everything.
- The American flags in many gardens and basketball baskets to many walls.
- The kindness, serious or not, especially by the staff in the shops. 'Hi sweetheart, how are you to-day?' We heard it so often that we got tired of it.
- Also Las Vegas with all those pensioners ‘killing’ their pensions was unforgettable.
- And then there was that drive slowly like a snail on a highway without traffic. What an annoyance if you are in a hurry.
- I also got the idea that Dutch pigeons are more popular than Belgian birds, like in the UK.
As for pigeons America was a letdown though. One had the pure Bricoux, the other the inevitable Janssens and so on. They all had a 'family'. How naïve! During a forum one was bragging about his pure Wegge pigeons. I could not help sneering at him saying no one in Europe is familiar with that name. I also said Wegge auctioned all his birds in 1903. Like Trump I repeated: ‘In 1903 folks’. And I said that Wegge himself had no family and never intended to form a kind of. The audience chuckled. Moments later ‘the Weggeman’ was gone. To the toilet I thought, but he was really gone. Another fancier asked what I thought of the crossing Vandenabeele x Hofkens. I sighed.
About Hofkens I am pretty well informed. He lived close to him and two times I auctioned his birds. And Hofkens did not have his own ‘family’ either. Nearly a third of his pigeons was imported, most pigeons that he had grown himself were from those imports. Gust believed in crosses, I said. The fanciers among the audience who claimed to have the "pure Hofkens” will certainly have thought ‘Why did you not stay in Europe'. Understandably this was some decades ago. Mainly due to the internet they are far less naïve, thanks God.
In South Portugal Mr. Ruiz showed me groups of identical lofts close to each other. And believe it or not, they were donated by the municipality. Many lofts have an open front, they are shockingly overpopulated but oddly enough the health of the pigeons was amazing. It showed again the importance of a dry climate. People who think that the birds in Holland and Belgium are superior should have seen the Van Hove Uytterhoeven pigeons in the loft of an ophthalmologist. Fantastic birds they were.
When I was in Japan I was younger than my son now. Scary how time flies. The modernity of Tokyo was impressive and how polite and civilized people they are. Two guys of some 20 years old that deeply bow when they meet? Here this might be reason to call for a doctor. Also those many white mouth cloths were new to me. Then there was this visit to a big importer. He pointed to some pigeons on top of the roof and said: '1st National Dax ', 3rd International Barcelona ', 1st National Bourges. He had purchased them in Netherlands and Belgium for real much money. What did those birds do on the roof? They were old birds and when they stopped filling their eggs they were released. Most of them he never saw back, but among the few that returned there were mostly some that fertilized again.
When you pass the border the highways change into race circuits. Just scary. When you drive 130 kms some horn loudly or point to the own forehead to indicate that you are nuts. About privacy they do not care. Walls, hedges or fences around gardens to to delimit them (' this is mine ') such as in Belgium are rare. You do not see terraces either: Germans work! The food is good and cheap and the German punctuality is proverbial. 10 oçlock is 10 oçlock.
When talking to pigeon fanciers be prepared to always get the same questions: 'What strain do you have’ and ‘what medicine do you give’. In Germany much has changed for the better as well, apart from the use of medicine and additives. Strong birds that can handle all that shit.
Belgium is interesting for economical Dutchmen. You don't have to replace the tires of your car when they are smooth, because over there the roads are ribbed. When my grandson was 3 years old he already cried 'Belgium' when we crossed the border. So much he was shaken back and forth.
What stands out in Belgium are the numerous empty coops that recall bygone times and a national pastime. Furthermore, pigeons in Flanders and Antwerp strikingly differ. Those light checkers and light blue pigeons that you see in Antwerp (like the Janssens) you do not see in Flanders. The blue there are mostly dirt blue.
Another unique thing in Belgium: Nearly all pigeon clubs are housed in cafés. What I do not like about Belgium is that many think there birds are still superior.
In Taiwan you have to get used to a special smell and the huge number of scooters in the big cities. And this sport is mainly practiced in the cities with lofts high up on flat roofs. Fanciers take training very seriously. They already start when babies are ten weeks old. Around 4 p.m. you see training pigeons everywhere, held in the air by men high on the roof waving red flags.
It is really admirable how China has managed to improve the lives of so many millions of people in such a short time. The public restrooms were terribly filthy but they say that in many cities only a quarter of the population has an own private toilet. But this will change soon in a country with such hard working people and an economy that is so booming.
Nothing seems ‘normal’ in China. The vast majority of the fanciers have little money, the few rich however are outrageous rich. Furthermore the average fancier is so much younger than in Europe. Public auctions are also special: A meal is included and potential buyers all have special glasses with which they study the eyes of pigeons with the preciseness of a man that wants to dismantle a bomb.