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A S in Belgium (31-01-24)

Everyone has those moments when things are not going so well for them. But if such a moment lasts for a long time, it becomes annoying. Can you believe it taught me to lie?

'Fine' I said when people asked me (well-intentioned, by the way) how I made it. That's all I said, they wouldn't hear me lie. Because if you start to suffer with one knee in such a way that you can barely stand, it is of course not 'fine'.
Then May 10 came, the weather was good, the knee pain was less and I grabbed the bike.

And if it's somewhere great cycling, it's in the region where I live. Through forests, past swamps, through villages where time has stood still.
I stopped when I saw a dozen people sitting and standing somewhere.
It could have been 10, but that doesn't matter. 
The age varied from I estimate 18 to 85, they were in a great mood and looked at the sky with one eye and a pigeon loft with the other. Before that, someone wearing a dust coat was nervously walking back and forth. I looked at my watch: 9:20 a.m.
The pigeons in Quievrain were released at 8.00 am so that could not be missed. 
That was 'watching pigeons come home' here. 
I always say 'everything happens on the street'.  Sometimes I also say 'nothing happens on the street'. It depends on my mood. And on the street, of course.
But here it happened on the street. Until I arrived.
The ambiance disappeared like snow in the sun. There was no more laughter, there wasn't even any talking.
Dutch in Belgium? Just as popular as Biden in Iran.

I thought I vaguely knew one of those people. Years of pub visiting had given him the appearance of a herring that had been in the sun for too long. 
A guy with an unbelievably ridiculous face too. 
Not that I have anything against guys with ridiculous faces, but there are limits.
And a face to hang in front of all the mirrors at home and for which fish dive to the bottom in the pond is just a little too far for me.
I always took him as he is, a complete idiot, but otherwise he's not too bad.
He's also quite intelligent, but you can't make him understand that.
I stepped into the bushes and went for a pee.
But my tragedy is that usually someone is next to me quickly and when the matter is done, the hassle only begins. It was that herring man.

"Are you S?" he asked. I couldn't think of any counter-argument. "Is that true about your knee?" What kind of a fool was that? Why wouldn't that be true? Why should I lie a little bit about my own knee? 
"You have to move, move around a little more," he said.
And you should move around less, I thought (the man came from far away).

'How many birds did you enter?' I heard someone ask.
"Four," said the dustcoat running up and down in front of his loft.
'Gee, you have guts.’ 
'Right, but if that chequer misses again, she can go to the long distance.' 
'Is he also playing long distance?' I dared to ask the man next to me.
"He means Noyon, 220 kms," he said, without moving a muscle from his face. I was speechless, but with him the ice seemed to be broken a bit. 'Are a lot of pigeons in the race?' 
'That's what I believe in such weather. Let me think, Guy three, Squint Pear two, Ugly Fred two, Fat Gust his Grey, I think they've all entered birds.  All in all, there could be eighty pigeons.' 'How many men have basketed them?' 
"I'm thinking about thirty or so." I didn't say anything but thought my own.

"That's S," I heard someone whisper. No one responded. I seemed to attract them like a magnet attracts  beetles. Now 'the herring' turned to me.
'That M writes well, do you read his articles?' That was a stab under the water.
"Sometimes," I said. "He's got a good pen. I myself have a Parker and it is better. The best, so to speak. And you know what you had to do?"
He looked at me curiously.
"Drop dead," I said, looking at my watch. A quarter to ten. Someone came cycling up. '
"At what time should the birds fall?" 
A little later pigeons come over, no one reacts.
Then one alone, low and much sharper than the others. 'The good blue of Sus' shouted four men at the same time. 
Then a pigeon stumbles into the loft of the dustcoat. Fifty. Pigeons keep coming over. I didn't understand it very well. They had to be Dutch pigeons, but they were released 10 minutes earlier. So they should have passed before.

Now the man next to me opened his mouth. If I had ever met Koopman in person. "Yes," I said. "Then you have to say hello to him." "I'll do it," I promised.

(It's not true, it went through my mind. Have you seen Koopman in person? So what? I also saw my grandfather alive when he thundered off his bike as drunk as three Swiss. Are these not completely unimportant matters?)
"Do you know me?" the man asked.
"No, why?"
"Don't you need to know my name to say hello to Koopman?"
"What's your name?" 'Sjef'. 
'Okay Sjef, but then you have to tell me why you thought that pigeon belonged to 'Sus' when there were so many of them flying? How could he have caught up with the Dutch pigeons?'

He shook his head. 'Simple. You in Holland basket everything that moves. Junk! You saw how our ‘Quievrain racers’ got through, didn't you? That had indeed not escaped my notice.

Every fancier near the border also knows that the Quievrain pigeons in Belgium make more meters than the Dutch pigeons when they race Quievrain the same day.

A man arrives on a bicycle that Napoleon could have been riding on. "Sus," said the man next to me. "Your Old Blue at forty-nine, Sus?"
'Fifty and 10. He made a tour and then you soon lose a half minute, he boys.'
Everyone nodded in agreement.
With Sjef, the ice was really broken.
'Young man here racing pigeons is still fun. Next week it's time to be there. There will be free mussels for the fanciers and a girl will do Striptease.' I greeted him and grabbed my bike.

Later I heard that Sus had won the first prize. 
And the parents of his winner? He had got them from a Dutch friend just across the border. The same man who couldn't understand why the Belgian Quievrain pigeons always flew faster. And then I knew for sure.

Letting your pigeons fly about the same distance or preferably the same race every week makes them 'faster'.

If I'm going to that party with free mussels and 'that girl who does striptease?' I'm not sure. Because mussels? Hmm. A long time ago.


 Where I live nature is very beautiful. But pigeon fanciers have to pay a price.