It is now two years since he stood with me on the sidewalk.
He said he came from England but I had already seen his car (steering wheel on the wrong side) so that comment was ignored.
And he had pigeons.
Also, that comment was unnecessary because on the back seat I noticed a pigeon basket.
You also have a name? I asked.
'O shit. I am Stuart', he said.
I stepped back because of the atrocious aftershave that even did my dog crawl away whiningly.
And what do you want? I asked, and I pretended not to see that he scratched his butt.
Good pigeons. P v M d told me there was no better address for good pigeons.
I knew that P was a nice guy but that other champions refer to birds from fellow sportsmen is something you see very little in the pigeon sport.
I was flattered, but what P had said was too much credit
I looked at my watch without seeing what time it was.
'I have little time because I must leave' I said.
But I heard myself lie. And probably he too.
Then he began to tell.
He had played 30 years with pigeons but in recent years he could barely win a prize.
And he did everything for the birds.
No product or he had given it, no medicine that he had not tried and no dust in the loft that was safe for his vacuum cleaner.
The quality of the birds could not be a reason; he got them from the best lofts in theNetherlands and Belgium.
More painful was that club members who never spent a penny on pigeons flew the clothes from his body.
If I had better pigeons than those he had and if I was willing to sell him a few he asked then.
But if I would have had birds I would certainly not give or sell him any.
Because I know that story by now.
He failed with all birds that he had imported?
I would be next for sure!
So there was not much to say and I walked to the front door.
But then he wanted to just have a look in the lofts.
'Ok, come on' I said as politely as I could.
This is not the secret, but poison if used at random
The pens were empty as always in winter.
He looked inquiringly at me; I smiled and pointed to the aviary.
'That is where the racers are' I said.
Are they there the whole day In this bitterly cold weather? he asked.
Of course not, I said. That was only a joke; they are also there at night.
He scratched his ass again, showed a barely audible fart and pointed to the feeder.
'You only give the birds moult mixture?' he asked.
What is that? was my question again.
He looked at me with the look of a tormented man who thought he was fooled.
But I never fool people. At least, not people who cannot win a decent prize.
I said: 'Moult mixture' is an invention of sellers of castles in the air.
Scientifically it has never been proven that a certain mix favorably affects the moult.
I wished I had kept my mouth shut, since I looked less stupid than he thought I was, which meant I would have to cope with him for another while.
And he began asking questions.
HE AND I
- How often do you cure and against what?
- With what do you disinfect after the race?
- Do you give electrolytes, probiotics, enzymes, animal proteins?
- And how do you think about tea?
I shook my head despondently.
I give nothing special, and blind treatments certainly not.
At least not anymore.
That used to be different.
In the past I kept on medicating against canker.
Not anymore? he asked.
Not since I put some vinegar or a clove of garlic in the drinker I said.
Does that heal canker he asked?
Not heal but you suppress it once the birds are free, I said.
And to force to my words I gave some examples.
- I never saw pigeons that were as healthy as Klaks I said. And Klak did not even know the words trichomoniasis, coccidioses, ornithosis and so on, let alone drugs.
And I know many of such people; one of them was L Claessens.
- The National Champion Fond 2010 in the Netherlands was Knaven.
When I asked him if he had an explanation for his amazing results he said that he thought that one reason was the fact that he stopped medicating.
Verbruggen, Verbree, de Bruyn and Verkerk seldom medicate and lost their belief in most additives as well.
Roodhooft used to believe passionately in tea but he completely changed his mind.
Verreckt Arien, Braad de Joode, Vercammen, Cools, all top racers, frankly admit (read are so honest) that they take no risks and medicate, but the fact remains that many destroy their birds by too many antibiotics.
We said goodbye, I got the impression that he looked upset, but maybe it was my imagination.
Recently another English car was in front of my house.
I wanted to say again that I had no time, that he ought to announce ... until I noticed that he was so unashamed as to scratch his butt.
Did not I know that man? I tried to think fast.
He saw my desperate eyes and said: I am Stuart, I was here before.
Of course I said. Stuart. How are you doing?
He had already turned to open the boot of his car.
I have brought you something to thank you. My pigeons got no drugs at all in 2010 and it was my best year ever.
I am not surprised, I said, but be careful, there are times that you need a vet or medicine.
Then he left.
Besides his gift he left a terrible smell of aftershave as a souvenir.
If he comes again in summer, I let him in the loft I thought.
No lice that will survive the smell of that after shave. .
I could not wait to open the box in which my present was.
But what I saw then nearly took away my breath.
The box contained a bottle but' it was empty.
Then I understood the symbolism.
After reading this please do not misunderstand.
Also birds can become ill.
The same like people.
But do we take drugs when we are not sick?
Why give them to healthy pigeons then?