The flight of the bumble bee.   Leave a comment

'Take off'

‘Take off’

When I was a young fella at the age of about ten my parents went overseas for three months and I stayed with a friend’s family down the road from where I lived in Khandallah, Wellington. While there, my friend’s mother took me to hear the New Zealand symphony orchestra at the Wellington Town Hall. I was learning the piano at the time and I had a very acute ear for music. It was a lot of fun peering over the side of the balcony looking at each section of the orchestra attentively, studying each section of brass, percussion, woodwind and stringed instruments, right down to the timing of specific individual instruments.

My favourite piece of symphony music then was the ‘flight of the bumble bee’. It was all so exciting, fresh and vibrant to a young fellow. Studying the conductor was also a great past time and how he expertly led the orchestra with great panache and grandeur. Of course the gradual build up of the piece with the introduction of many different twists and turns, culminating in the final climax was the ‘piece de resistance’. I found it both scintillating and fantastically fascinating at the same time. Heaven on earth for a young lad with a very vivid imagination and acute concentration that’s for sure!

Looking back, some comparisons with pigeon racing can be drawn. Firstly, with the individual fancier if we think of a musical piece it has a beginning and an end, just like a pigeon season. A symphony piece is very well constructed and so too must the layout of a pigeon fancier’s plans be for the race season ahead. If we think of individual instruments, then each instrument has its own specific time to play, just as a specific pigeon is earmarked for specific races, even before a season starts. Further, it is not just one pigeon that is relied upon to achieve greatness for the fancier, rather the fancier has a whole team of pigeons to conduct the season with and pigeons that ‘paint the skies with glory’ regularly are few and far between, just as solo performances in orchestral pieces are less frequent.

If we look for analogies to racing pigeon clubs, Feds and the like, then each club member has their own part to play and skilled club administrators are renowned for bringing out the best in their members, not dissimilar to good conductors and concert masters. As in an orchestra, some parts are more stand out than others and just like an orchestra, pigeon fanciers are there because they want to be and they have the time, health and commitment to do so. Perhaps the different sections of an orchestra can also be very much likened to the specialist clubs popular in some parts of the world today.

Clubs and Feds also have set rules, codes and even standing orders for their meetings and so on. The more precise and discernible these guidelines are then the less likely there will be friction and disharmony in a pigeon body. Orchestras too have these set pieces and although they can be modified to keep up with the times, they give a clear and concise score, which can only be interpreted with total accuracy in one set way.

The end result of an orchestras attempt to portray a musical piece in an accurate and gripping way is a sound that indeed delivers an incredible synergy and display of a conglomeration and cacophony of many individual musicians. The dizzying heights an orchestra can reach will depend on the sum total of each musician’s efforts and fastidiousness including the conductor leading from the front to enable all the musicians to perform to an optimum.

So what can us pigeon fanciers learn from this analogy? Well, firstly a club or Fed President is a key person. They are elected into office by the members to serve the members in an unbiased way. Some sporting or other interest group bodies do not even allow their Presidents to have a personal vote and naturally they thus can only vote when the vote is tied, which is where the term ‘casting vote’ originates from.

Should the President be perfect, absolutely not! Are we? On the other hand, neither should they be seen to have a political ‘barrow’ to push i.e. they are not elected to dictate, rather, to facilitate and bring out the very best in all the members of their committee and spread that unity and cohesion throughout the framework of their racing pigeon Federation.

Should they expect their admin team to be all ‘yes’ men, absolutely not? However, one or two independent advisors ought to be searched out by the President of a large pigeon body. These will then help them avoid being unduly influenced by those who may give the appearance that they have a political and or personal axe to grind. The end result can be a pigeon body functioning at its optimal synergy and the members all wanting to keep their encumberant President for term after term!

So what should a President do when on the odd occasion they make an error of judgement, whether it be in decision making or a misjudged conversation or otherwise? Well, the same rule applies as in any ordinary life situation i.e. one undertakes a proactive action and apologises, as there must be a certain standard of decorum. Differences of opinion are not as easy and in fact can be healthy, for as they say, ‘iron sharpens iron’! However the more water tight and clear the rules are in pigeon clubs and Feds the better.

What then are the best modes of communication within a pigeon body? Probably face to face or video conference and more and more sporting bodies are using these latter cyberspace technologies.

What modes of communication are not good? Emails where the sender is being very abruptly honest and there are scores and scores of carbon copy recipients. These are not good for the harmony of the sport and in general fan the flames of dissent and disharmony. Some people like disharmony in the sport, however they are not usually successful in the racing side of the fancy and this love of disharmony and ‘one man up ship’ is an unusual quality or trait to say the least! A good President should be wary of such behaviour and certainly shouldn’t use it for their own political expediency. Neither is a President a ‘one man band’.

Finally, it is when committee members fail to communicate between the periodic admin meetings that factions and rifts can develop in the team and although the President may not be the cause of these difficulties it is their elected duty to try to iron out any problems within their team for the good of all fanciers. It’s no wonder that these jobs in general in pigeon racing are the least sought after!

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