Slightly less stupid
It was raining hard when the doorbell rang.
I didn"t expect anyone, and friends always come "round the back".
Maybe an Oriental wanting to buy pigeons?
"Or a Chinese," my wife said.
But on the pavement stood a somewhat strange looking person.
A hollow glance spoke of a deep displeasure with himself and the rest of the world, the half open mouth betrayed a weak character, the shabby clothing a meagre income, and the restless hands raised serious suspicions about alcohol abuse.
It couldn"t possibly be anything else, this person was a journalist.
I was proved right.
He wanted to write an article about the pigeon sport in a newspaper.
But I have had bad experiences with journalists who write about the pigeon sport in newspapers. Very bad experiences!
I believe that you can subdivide these people in two categories:
Stupid and slightly less stupid journalists.
The stupid ones are usually not too much trouble.
They dutifully write down whatever you tell them and then hasten back to the office.
There the piece is re-read, and when the fancier couldn"t tell anything else other than "the pigeon sport is a good hobby and it is especially form and quality that are important", the story isn"t deemed interesting enough.
It will be re-written or cancelled by an editor who thinks that this is not what the people want to read.
The journalist on my doorstep seemed to be of the slightly less stupid category and that was not what you"d call a bit of good luck; the ones in this category believe that they should be a critic.
"I want to write a piece about gambling and doping. It will appear in a large newspaper, but the weather isn"t good for the birds, is it?" the slightly less stupid journalist said.
I was perplexed.
I knew how abysmal and naive these people can be, but the insane notion that I wouldn"t be able to see that the weather was bad irritated me.
Because if there is one thing I can"t stand, its arrogance combined with stupid remarks.
Gambling and doping?
I wondered if I would hit him over the head with a jug or a vase, and could only just suppress the urge to kick him so that he wouldn"t be able to procreate anymore.
After all, I know what they are like.
You are stuck with them for half a day, you think you have given a good and positive picture of our sport, then they are off, taking your lighter away for good measure, afterwards there appears an extremely negative sensational story in the papers and the next day the neighbours look at you as though they want to say: "Is that what your hobby is like?"
"Why is it that only controversy matters to you?" I asked the slightly less stupid journalist.
Every marginally literate person seems to want to write in a newspaper nowadays, and there is nothing easier than obtaining a press card.
With a one-day beard growth, fake moustache and dirty clothes they head off in search of a story, never minding the truth. The only important thing is to be read.
"You are starting to become a real nuisance. Why don"t you write a story about a champion in the pigeon sport? I wouldn"t mind helping you with that."
He frowned, went away and a few days later he was back again.
He produced a piece of paper with a few names on it.
These were all supposed to be great champions.
I have no idea how he got these names but it was enough to make you drop on the floor crying.
Two of the names weren"t only not champions, but didn"t even race pigeons.
The third one did race but thanked his notoriety to advertisements, and the fourth was as dead as the fifth.
The sixth name, G, interested me. I had heard that he had a fantastic result the week before.
In any case G was someone at least who had achieved something.
That G had "20 pigeons in the result from Orleans", was the story that spread like wildfire.
It turned out to be 15, but that was still enough to put him in the limelight.
But what had also happened?
J Z had " 3 pigeons in the result, which didn"t compare to the 15 pigeons of G, but ... J Z had only 3 pigeons entered in the race and G had 48.
About J Z, who had all his pigeons home when 33 birds still had to return to the lofts of the eye-catcher G, I have heard nothing.
Others had 3 of their 5 entries in the prizes, others 4 out of 9. These fanciers didn"t get any publicity either, but all had better results than G, about whom everybody talked.
People often judge results incorrectly.
Someone "with ten pigeons on the first page" might get all the publicity, but often others who aren"t noticed have better results.
They are not noticed because they only enter a few pigeons.
In local newspapers, pigeon newspapers, daily newspapers and on the Internet sites usually only the first 10 prizes (or thereabouts) of every race are mentioned.
That information doesn"t show who had the best result, but who had some early birds.
After every race you notice again that this is what counts in the pigeon sport.
"Jan has one back at 10."
"Piet at 12."
"Henk at 14, but he gets two kilometres overfly."
That is how people talk.
How many pigeons did Jan, Piet and Henk enter in the race?
When did they get the rest of their pigeon"s home?
That is something people don"t talk about.
And yet that is important to judge results correctly.
National winners are written about, there is nothing wrong with that, but ...
If you want to know the strength of a loft, because you want to buy pigeons for instance, even a national first prize, no matter how commendable, doesn"t mean very much.
The fancier who, from a national race with say 10,000 pigeons, begins with taking the 100th prize and who by the 500th prize already has his 6 entered pigeons in the result, then this is the man who had a top performance.
But who reads as far as the 500th prize in the result list?
That is why some fanciers race with so many pigeons; they hope that one or a few of their birds will return early, because these will ensure that their names will appear in the media all over the world. And there is no Japanese, Taiwanese or American who will ask any further.
They don"t want to know of the races with about 100 pigeons, of which 80 birds come from the same fancier either.
In the past, when racing with young pigeons from Orleans was immensely popular, I sometimes said:
"If I have a bird within the first three National places, the rest can stay away for a week. Have you seen that, A S has another good result," they will then say.
You sometimes hear that certain fanciers always have "luck" with buying pigeons.
Maybe these fanciers are just a little bit smarter.
"Is G someone for an article in the newspaper?" the slightly less stupid journalist asked.
"That is a long story," I told him.