Pilot: Jeff and Terry – Breeding and racing the pigeons

Hello, I would like to tell you all about my pigeon hobby, would you be interested in this. What is your name? My name is Jeff My name is Terry and I am very interested in knowing more about your hobby as I don’t know much about it When I left school I joined pigeon racing. When I was 16 years old, I made a loft cage for pigeons and started breeding and racing the pigeons. I also bred the good racing pigeons with each other to increase the quality of my pigeons. I also trained my pigeons to race at three miles then increased to 10 miles and to 20 miles, and so on. I became a member of a club and raced in a 100 miles competition where my pigeon struggled to fly back. The following week, I used another pigeon for this race that came 6th in this competition. Sometimes the pigeon would keep flying in the air and I would try shouting and encouraging them to come down after a while I would swear in frustration. After a while the lousy pigeon would come down and I would not use it again for over a week to recover. Eventually the pigeon got stronger and traveled back over 200 miles but still came 6th then later increased to 300 miles and came 4th place and the furthest was in France where the pigeon arrived home exhausted! Sometimes when the pigeon is lousy, I was told this could be because of the wing feathers that could be bleeding like a toothache. The pigeon needs to be fully fit before they are strong enough to race well. If they are not well enough to race then they could struggle to fly back over the sea and often they would drown. How did you become interested in this hobby? Was it inspired from your father? yes I became interested when I was little from my father. How do you know the different types of pigeons and their strengths? There are some pigeon types/breeds from Yorkshire that have good reputations, because if you buy random pigeon for racing they would not be good and perhaps disappear. How long have you been doing this? Ermm… Since I was little, before I didn’t have good pigeons You learnt how to train the pigeons It was when I started working, I started to discuss with my work colleague about our pigeon hobby and he came over to my house to have look at my pigeons and was not impressed. I was shocked about this and then he gave me six good racing pigeons and I went on from there to breed them. I started racing them two years later when I was about 18 years old as the membership for the pigeon racing was minimum 18 years old. I stopped my membership when I was 23 years old, I lived in the pub before and the backyard was damaged so I moved to a new pub, but unfortunately the council wouldn’t allow me to keep the pigeons in the backyard. I was so disappointed about this. Are there lots of Deaf people like you involved in this? Yes there are two Deaf people that I am aware are involved in pigeon racing Do you compete against them? No, we are in different clubs, mine is Wigan and others are Rochdale clubs so we don’t compete against each other That’s fantastic, you have been involved for long time and now it seems this hobby is decreasing overall That’s right, before the total members in club were about 25 people but now it’s about 7 of us. Still don’t know exactly why this happened. This is a traditional hobby and older people are dying and the younger generations are not interested in this hobby. I really found this interesting from you. When we were younger we couldn’t watch TV or use the radio so we had to do our own hobby. I wanted to keep my pigeons in my loft but I was not allowed to do this That’s right this is not allowed due to health and safety I really want to disobey this rule but there are many phone wires in my loft, I felt it was too much of a risk to keep my pigeons in there as they could be killed from these wires It is not worth it really I preferred to keep my pigeons in the pub before, it was much better space to keep them without all the wires. I really liked the pub but my wife preferred her freedom. that’s the married life, things change for your spouse, you cannot keep everything the same It was the same for me before, I went to hearing school but I became deaf when I was 12 years old and moved to a deaf school and I had never signed before in my life. When I met the deaf children at the new school, they would sign away to me and I would not understand a thing! So a pupil had to use the board to write his name was “Terry”, exactly the same as my name and he taught me fingerspelling. Now I am 64 years old and I have seen the changes with the attitudes towards deaf people there is more deaf awareness. But I still feel that it is important to have Deaf schools, if I hadn’t gone to deaf school then I would have not met you or other deaf friends. In the past the attitude towards deaf people from hearing people was awful, they thought deaf people had no idea what they were talking about or had learning difficulties. This is not true, the only issue is the communication barrier, also often Doctors or hearing people would think the communication barrier is problem for us, but really it’s the other way around, as they should realise that it is their problem that they cannot communicate with us, they should learn sign language and deaf awareness. Nowadays it is different, other people and I are getting older and we want to focus on our lives, on going out, shopping and driving. It’s a different life now. I agree, every time we get together with deaf people, we are happy but now deaf children are educated in mainstream schools alone. These deaf children become lost and isolated also often without friends. Then if those deaf children grow up and somehow join deaf clubs they still struggle to get to know other people. It is sometimes because of the different communication approaches. They are more oral, speaking away, and don’t know any sign language so they struggle to make new friends. I really feel sorry for them I can speak and sign equally I went to a boarding school in Liverpool; my parents took me to the school and told me that they would be back to take me home But they never came back and the teachers told me to go to bed. I refused and kept crying out that “mum” will come back and take me home. The teacher tried to console me and make me go to bed and I still refused. I felt hurt that my mother tricked me. I confronted my mother on Friday when she came to take me home for the weekend and she could not reply. I was a day pupil at my primary school and I loved the freedom of walking to school and back home everyday even though I was tired in the mornings. I enjoyed going to my friends’ houses for a chat after school. When I went to Deaf school, I was forced to board at the school, I felt that it was not right to force pupils to sleep in the school because they were deaf. It’s not right really, and now things are much better with the opportunity for college and training for today’s generation. Whereas in our generation we had nothing, lower level of English and poorer education, it was crap! Now at the school reunion it is was good to meet old friends and find out about their lives and tease them if they have put on weight or changed the colour of their hair. Thats fantastic!

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