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To each own (25-07-22)

To each his own

 Three times I went to a pigeon day in Germany. Not so much because of the pigeons, but to get out. No telephone, no emails, no newspaper: a relief. But Germany is different. Although I drive anything but slow, you feel like a snail on the German roads.

The Mercedes and BMWs fly around your ears with a loud horn. But a German is disciplined. He keeps his distance, will never pass on the left, does nothing that is forbidden.

Except flying. It is just as deeply ingrained as the racial delusion in the pigeon fancier. Seeing those Germans eat sausage is also fascinating. Don't get mad now, dear German readers. We also have our flaws and quirks. And they are not inferior to yours.


A compatriot who has been working for the tax authorities for almost seven of the twelve months is considered a criminal if he seeks a reliable place abroad for his hard-earned savings. Those who are frugal and save are seized by the tax authorities, those who squander their money, take them to the whores, travel around the world, have nothing to worry about..

The hypocrisy with which the government earns billions from excise taxes on petrol, drink, tobacco and gambling while on the other hand claims that we should drive less, drink, bet and smoke is even shocking. Not to mention estate taxes, an immoral legalized form of corpse theft if you ask me. Someone who steals a watch from a deceased person is a criminal, let there be no doubt. The taxman continues.

Grieving families are once again caught by the state for money and goods on which tax has already been paid by the deceased. If you defend yourself against a burglar, you hang, the burglar is let go because there is nothing to get. That's the Netherlands.

Back to our sport.


Many Germans, most of them very nice people by the way, have the same deviation:They don't think they can win a prize if they don't cure every conceivable ailment or... if they don't have a breed.
The German cherishes his strain as the Dutch cherish his welfare benefit.That only really dawns on you after a visit to pigeon days there.It is best to arrive around noon. Then you can easily find the place of the event because of the hordes of fanciers who, weighed down by the weight of bags full of medicines, sway along with difficulty. Like drunks.Do you see one that moves fresh and cheerful without it?
Rest assured that you are dealing with a rare freak of nature.Germans just can never get rid of that indestructible belief in medicines, vitamins, conditioning and disinfectants, to the delight of the manufacturers, of course. Expensive flyers and advertisements show how lucrative it must be. 


I once witnessed such a stallholder fervently praising his wares, countless bottles and jars with obscure contents displayed in front of him.The moult, the breeding, pigeons that no longer fertilize, you could not think of it so crazy that he had something for it.And he was constantly surrounded by a crowd of interested parties whom he quickly turned into buyers, which made him scream even louder.
I prayed fervently that he wouldn't explode, otherwise this comedy show would come to an abrupt end.Even room-sized posters with a breathtakingly feminine beauty with pearly white teeth, plunging necklines and sultry smiles are thrown into the ring. And whether it works!


How intrigued. Because how can this be reconciled with those countless fanciers (and thank heavens that you don't play against some) who are successful without strain or secret bottle?Like merry, uncomplicated scouts, roaming the forest of our belief in sideshows, leaving a trail of confusion:
“How can that be?”They don't give fortunes to pigeons, don't know terms like herpes, resistance, etc., but how good they are. Like that fellow countryman. Has been playing well since time immemorial and recently he revealed “his secret”.You must have good pigeons. Pigeons that can do without secrets.I fear, however, that he will not be heard. Too revolutionary!


'Strain' is the opium of losers, its promoters are brokers in the air.Because how many pedigree pigeons deny their origin every weekend when it comes to performance and are completely lost by nameless and purebred fellow contestants?
It was inevitable that I got into conversation with fellow sportsmen in Germany.I was asked if I had good pigeons. What a stupid question.“You should look for a Dutchman or Belgian here who doesn't have good birds” I replied.
That comment caught on and seemed to make my visit a scintillating success. After all, the next question was how much I asked for my youngsters. I eagerly mentioned the price. 'Und welche Rasse' I had? (Which strain I had).  'Ah, thatsz ist but everything Kwatsch' (‘That is all bull shot’) I snapped back.This was reason for one of them to conjure up some pigeon photos.Beautiful photos that must be said. One with red pigeons: His 'alte Bricouxstam', the blue pigeons had to represent his 'Janssens', all 'inbred to old Merckx', and his last trump card were dark pigeons."Pure Horemans."
He had always been careful to keep everything as 'pure' as possible. I didn't like it, congratulated him warmly, but he seemed no longer interested in my 'purebred' pigeons.I just went for a walk along those immense rows of pigeons, each with a card: 'Strain Janssen,' 'Strain Aarden,' 'Strain Heremans' and so on. It almost made me vomit. But if they thought I just had a big mouth, they were wrong. 

In the evening I sat at the table with some fanciers, they all looked rich people. I smelled my chance and exuberantly threw my trump cards on the table. A pack of results, carefully selected, the best of the last 45 years.
There was a moment of silence.Then the biggest spender opened his mouth.'Aber Herr Sjaarlakens, Welche RASSE haben Sie? (But Mr Schaerlaedckens, which strain do you have?) It's not true, I thought).
Two cigarettes later I was in my car. Towards the Netherlands. 


You will notice immediately that you are back on homeland soil. Walls sprayed with what is called free expression here. Streets full of dog poo, smashed phone booths. Trucks pushing you off the road, motorists angrily tapping your forehead to explain that you are crazy, selling drugs under the watchful eye of the police. That's the Netherlands.
At home the pigeons turned out to be still alive despite the fact that they had not been given any medicines or vitamins for a while and I grabbed the newspaper.'Football supporters destroyed train, costs 1 million, no arrests!'
Then the phone.A German who had a picture of my '023'. He wanted to know if I could tell him more about that pigeon. Enthusiastically I started: Three first prizes, five second prizes, and... 'Everything clear, Herr Sjaarlakens', he interrupted me, 'aber welche Rasse ist es?' (But what strain is it?’) Devastated, I reached for the gin bottle.