The old man
"Long may he live" it sounded at the birthday party.
The elderly pigeon fancier did not sing along.
"Long may he live?" It was meant for him but apparently he had little confidence. And he even less felt like it.
He had the haunted look of a man who had not been able to win a decent prize for years.
And it must be said, he was not to be envied.
With pigeons there were always problems.
He could not keep them healthy and understandably they did not perform.
Before him lay pigeons newspaper clippings. Ads of everything which was recommended for pigeons and articles of vets that he could not understand.
And if he asked champions what they gave their birds he got evasive answers.
Nothing do I admire more than the swift rate at which people always come up with new stuff to make pigeons healthier and fly faster.
On the table lay a lot of papers.
- Ads in which a 'speed potion' was promoted. It would make pigeons fly minutes ahead.
- Ads in which a spray was recommended. If you would spew it on the birds before basketing the rain would slip off so that they would home minutes ahead of others. You should not spray it on the legs, because there was other stuff for that; stuff that would prevent droppings to cleave on them so that the birds would be lighter and again fly minutes ahead. .
- New pills were supposed to be the secret weapon if the competitors. They had always carefully kept it a secret but now the manufacturer found that the time had come that everyone has the right to know those secrets.
How nice of them!
But what if everyone would give his pigeons that stuff?
He had always thought only one bird could win the first prize.
The old man had a desperate look in his eyes and began to tell about the old days when it was all so different and so much better.
It was the time that half the village was interested in pigeons.
They hardly existed.
Numerous old lofts without pigeons are the silent witnesses of "the good old days" that the man filled with melancholy thought about.
Girls were then called Jo and Mary instead of Shirley, or Brooks.
You could not sleep from that one kiss, now some sleep with a guy after a first introduction.
A youngster which had canker then disappeared into the garbage bin, strains did not exist, Doris Day sang with full breasts but as she was no match for the avalanche of weeks, months and years pigeon sport was no match for the skill of the vendors of health.
But ... with the products of the merchants in illusions came the sicknesses!
These pills mongers that sell health are the curse of our time.
To sit still is begging for death.
Therefore you see hordes of greying men sweating in peculiar suits chase on our roads.
For some obscure reason they evade loneliness because strangely enough you rarely see such a fellow human alone.
Once such a group of demons nearly caused me a cardiac arrest when I was sitting with my basket along the road.
Suddenly they were there and just as suddenly they were gone.
This bake rage in Holland and Belgium seems to be a collective insanity.
But today so much seems to be about health.
Children run ever so happy on TV because mom serves special butter.
Bothered by wrinkles?
Use that powder, "scientifically formulated" and based on plant extracts from the virgin forests of Brazil.
Pains in the joints?
Use oligo-elements and your pains will disappear as snow in the sun.
'Already 1800 times tested' it said in an advert.
Unfortunately it did not mention how many of those treatments were successful.
But people who read all that rubbish buy.
The power of the media is tremendous and I suspect some men to wear a plaid hat if they read somewhere that this will increase the potency.
If even normal humans are no match for what is written; the weakness of the fancier is not surprising.
He knows that condition is important to perform and manufacturers know about the whispers behind the hand palms when somebody races real well:
"What would he give his birds?"
As if successes can be shaken out of a bottle.
"There is a gap in the market with much money in it ' that type of retailer once whispered to me.
He was right but forgot one thing:
He does not publish the names of champions that give his products and that is a big omission.
As proud as ludicrous he should let them pose with his 'miracle stuff', the thumbs up.
If a guy like Koopman says 'cheese is good' half the world will give their birds cheese. Until they discover that they do not have the birds that Koopman has.
The old man had tried EVERYTHING.
Once he gave nothing. And he never had sick birds.
Now he can hardly win a prize, despite all the new medicine and additives that are available today.
Therefore he was sad and I felt sorry for him.
"I will come and eliminate all birds that are not healthy and you keep your hands of that shit from now on" I said.
"Will I become a champion then?" he groaned.
"I can not promise, but unlike now your name will be on the result sheets' I said. "Everybody who has healthy pigeons will perform sometime.'
Recently I visited him again.
I saw his birds, he did not have many, but their health was breath taking.
On the table lay a torn leaflet.
"With Omega 3 you are also a winner" I could barely read and smiled.
The old man smiled back and seemed not so old.