What is a Tipplerman - Ken Burgess


What is a Tippler man? I'll tell you what he is - he's a breed on his own, a Psychiatrist would have a field day prying into his mind, to see what makes him tick. What a nut case people might well think when they see this lonely figure gazing hopefully up into a black sky clucking and whistling or'shaking a corn tin, whilst he drives white pigeons from the top of his shed, then curses because they don't come back to it. He's a loner, this man, probably because he doesn't want anyone else to see him making a fool of himself as he goes through his antics. When our man has finally achieved his object by getting his flying kit down and into the shed, fed and watered them, he will make his way into the house red nosed and shivering, declaring to anyone in the household how much he enjoyed that training session. Kind people make allowances for idiots, that's why our man's family will pretend to listen to an action replay of the training flight supplying the hot tea treatment: all our man needs is plenty of "tut tuts", and "well I never" comments to keep him happy. He's a bit of a lad at the pub is our man (another aspect of him is that the place he decides to fly from is not very far from a pub) in the middle of a debate at the bar he will suddenly leave his company and rush outside and stand gazing skywards. Human nature being what it is passers by will stop and also gaze upwards to see what's so important up there, but they don't see the tiny dots that makes our man so happy, they think he's nutty gazing up into the empty expanse of the sky, smiling away to himself. Beware anyone who should happen to ask what he's looking for because a lecturer on the merits o~ Tippler pigeons is never far away. On his return to the bar our man will bore anyone who cares to listen, or is not quick enough to escape in time on the merits of his kit of birds, "Nothing to touch 'em, doing their training time a treat, IVational winners, if I ever saw better I can't remember them, etc., etc." "Good for you" says the bemused chap edging his way to the safety of the door, "Hope they do you proud, should like to see these Champions one day". A few days later our man enters the pub and shuffles to the bar. "How them Champions of yours now mate" says the fellow who received the lecture, he's not really interested, but opening the small talk on a safe subject. "Pulled their necks" says our man, "They wasn't much good after all". "What, didn't they, or couldn't they fly long enough for you" says the now interested questioner. "They flew aright" says our man, "But too long. I waited up until 2.00 a.m. and still couldn't get them down, so I went to bed and got up at 5.00 a.m., then I got them down and in before necking them". Now the question arises from smarty pants. "You tell me that yo~r hopes were for these birds to fly a long time, you train them to make them fit enough to fly a long time, then when they do this time, you kill them! Good game, good game !". Our Tippler man is a very patient one, he will spend hours telling anyone he can get to listen the arts and crafts of flying a kit of tipplers; he will give it the full treatment and will only receive the odd nod as a response. "Yes mate you let 'em out in the afternoon on their barley supper, and they fly in the top until it's dark then they lower out. You put on your lights and out with the droppers, this brings the kit down, then you trap and feed them. This is training the birds for the `Big One', Competition Day. On this day under the eye of your appointed referee you release your birds very early in the morning and they are $own to rules laid down by the union. When you think your birds have had enough you tell your referee, put your lights on and get your birds down, and in within the hour, rings are checked by the ref and time sheet completed." This one sided conversation usually takes place at a bar, and the more ale going down means the story getting enlarged by the minute. Our man is so pleased he has someone to listen to him, must be a bright fella to be interested in Tippler man talk. As our man pauses to have a swig at his beer, his subject, not believing his luck at having a chance to speak asks, "Where did you say the birds were racing from?" Thump ! ! Let's examine our Tippler man in his role of head of the household, he's the tops! As the family settles down after the tea meal our hero gets dressed and off out for his pleasure: he'll spend the next couple of hours standing about in the garden peering upwards, if he's lucky it won't be raining too hard, or the wind blowing from the East, with its icy bite.

Maybe he'll have a bit of company, another Tippler man with no birds to fly, and with no excuse to stand in his own garden in the cold, may join in the fun, if he's allowed. In some areas where there is high ground, groups of Tippler men have been known to gather, all gazing skywards, and having a private game of who will catch the flu first. The head of the house will at intervals trudge into the house leaving his badge of the sport all over the floor, feathers, mud and droppings, demanding hot tea and sympathy. As his mind is on his birds, doors are very often left open en route. "Why don't we go out" voices wifey. "Good idea" says our man, "I've been wanting to see where my kit rakes out over the other side of the estate, put your wellies on and I'll take you." He's a joy in the summer months: "Don't want you kids in the garden today, I've got youngsters out and I don't want them frightened by your noise; no you can't hang the washing out either. Yes you can have some scrubs in the garden, providing they don't grow tall and are not bright colours". Rue is a good one to have ! "Sweetheart", says our man (part of the Tippler man training is to be able to say things like this when he wants a favour done). "My kit needs to go out at three and as I won't be home perhaps you'll release them for me. I'll put them in the basket, just open it up and they will fly out, Keep an eye on them and if for any reason they should `look in' (now follows a lecture on the statement `looking in' signs), open the other basket and the droppers will go on the shed." Wifey is now on a loser. Our man comes home and sees two of his kit flying, and one missing. Why didn't she see one split, a good kit ruined, HELL. Or when he comes home kit is down in the flight with the droppers. Why did you drop the kit, they were only bluffing, now the cock droppers have been at the kit of hens, and they are ruined, HEr.L. Kitchens are for preparing the rations during `feed up' time. Peas are counted out very carefully and a spoonful of this and that added. Water is boiled then cooled, maybe some rue tea is made. The Tippler man who is a good cook has made a `cake' and dried out some bread for crumbs; most of this can be found in, and around, the oven when he's finished. Tonics are prepared in the sink, they stain rather well with practice. Strange how `things' from the water fountain won't go down the plughole. With his magic mixtures on the best tray our man shuffles down the garden to his beloved ones. Wifey joins in the ritual at this stage, sweeping up the spilt canary mix, etc. Competition Day. The Saturday night has been axious times for our man: he's been searching his soul, "Have I done everything I could or should have done to ensure a good effort from the kit". He wont't be able to stand the suspense of waiting to give the birds their final feed, so he'll have to go the pub for an hour, or tvo. "Topped up" he'll go straight to the shed to feed and water the chosen kit; he may spend an hour or so deciding which one to drop out if he's trained more thanrequired. And so to bed,alarm tested and set. Wifey of course will be respondsible that the alarm is heard. Alarm goes off, strainght down the garden and the shed lights on, a good look at the birds and fresh water offerd. Tea will be drank by the gallon this day, and release time. As the ref arrives, the dog goes potty ensuring that everyone should be able to join in ! This is the Tippler Man - recognise yourself ?