Wednesday 10 November 2010

Rotherham Old Ladies Pigeon Fanciers Society

Continuing with funny stories involving old ladies and birds.
His goose was cooked and Swan story you will never forget.

Many years ago, we owned a dog called Tess, she was a cross bred whippet and like a whippet she was lean, mean and very very fast. On her day she would run-down a full grown Hare, because she had a lot of speed and stamina. We did not take her out deliberately to catch rabbits and hares. It was something that she did by accident from time to time, because we lived out in the countryside. Her speciality was ratting, not far from where we lived was a farm with several barns and other outbuildings. It was a haven for rats because of the food and shelter it provided. The farmer would ask the lads in the village to bring their dogs to try and reduce the rat population. Whilst I did not mind her killing rats I did try and discourage her from chasing rabbits.

My dad after he retired from work would take her with him most days when he went out for a walk. The old boy was not to good on his feet and would need to take a rest from time to time. Often the resting place would involve a pub, sometimes they were both gone for hours. Tess was the first dog I had that liked a drink of beer and on the odd occasion she would arrive home a bit unsteady on her feet - a bit like my dad come to think about it! One day they went out together for an extended walk. They found themselves in Rotherham town centre in All Saints square. The square and the streets around it had a fair few pubs. The White Hart, the Ring-o-Bells, Wheatsheaf, Hare and Hounds, the Masons Arms, the Effingham Arms the Fallstaff to name a few. Dad and the dog were both well acquainted with one or two if not most of them. Some of dads old workmates would meet up from time to time in one of the pubs. Everyone would have a good chin wag telling tales as retired miners would often do. It was often said that more coal was dug in the pub than was ever won down the mine.

On this day, it was a hot day and dad and the dog were sat in the shade taking a rest. Tess was quite obedient and well mannered and did not have to be on a leash. She would always automatically sit under the bench or seat where dad had chosen to sit. On this particular day, there were a few people around feeding the pigeons that lived in large numbers around the square. There was a particular old lady who would come along with a bag of bread crumbs to feed the pigeons and sparrows. The birds knew her so well that they would sit on her hand to feed. Dad liked to sit and watch the antics and would have a chuckle to himself if the birds ever crapped on her. His opinion of the pigeons was that they were a form of avian rat and that people should be discouraged from feeding them. On a few occasions he had passed comment to the old lady that it was a bad idea to encourage the pigeons by feeding them. She always chose to ignore his advice - a bit like my mother in that respect.

On this day, the old dear had a big flock of pigeons surrounding her and the birds were in a feeding frenzy. Suddenly Tess was out from under the bench and she ratted a couple of the pigeons in the twinkle of an eye. Dad described the situation  "a flurry of birds started taking to the wing, when suddenly a puff ball of feathers exploded everywhere". Dad called Tess to heel and starts to scold her for what she had done. The old lady by now had collected her senses and homed in for dad. She was incandescent shouting and swearing at him and generally giving him a bad time. Dad and the dog thought it was time for a strategic withdrawal into the nearest pub. Things had started to settle down - when the old dear comes bursting in through the door – Once more giving dad a bit more of the verbal. She snatches up his glass of beer and throws it at him. His pub pals think that its my mother come to berate him for being in the pub. They then start to encourage the old dear on to bigger and better things.

The culmination was that with support of dads pals, she started to get a bit carried away and dad found that another strategic withdrawal was needed. He managed to make his way down Bridgegate and onto a bus to travel home. The following week, he is in town again - once more sat with his cronies in the corner of the pub when the old lady turns up again with a couple of her friends and gives dad a bad time all over again. So it was not surprising that a second strategic withdrawal had to be made. Dad was unable to frequent the pubs in town for several months until the furore of the "Rotherham Old Ladies Pigeon Fanciers Society" had died down. Apparently, dad had also been highlighted in the local newspaper - in the readers letters section - in a less than complementary way. For a long time afterwards, whenever dad went into the pub he would be greeted by his friends by a "oh-oo-oor - oh-oo-oor" the call of the pigeon.



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