Sunday, April 17, 2011

Postcard from the pigeon loft

Pigeon racing is not something I knew a dickie bird about until I spent a morning on a writing workshop with the artists at Project Pigeon. The birds are nothing like their scrawny street cousins. Nor are they pets. These pigeons are intelligent athletes. And, as in any sport, there is money, strategy, suspicion, ritual and rumour: all the elements for dramatic fiction.

The fact we were sitting around a shed in a yard situated under the railway arches of inner Birmingham couldn't detract from the fact that the birds were calm company, the world of pigeon fancying is surprisingly fascinating and the sun was shining. I scribbled loads of notes and outlined the plot of a rather gentle thriller set in the world of pigeon racing. It's unlikely that book will ever be written by me, but I am thinking up ways to work a pigeon loft into other stories.

I doubt I'll be using a pigeon as a main character though. Their key characteristic appeared to be that they just want to be at home with the family, eating. While this translates into an impressive homing instinct which uses navigational skills to surpass any satnav and speed to outpace birds of prey, once they get home, all they do is sit there. It just doesn't make for a satisfying ending.


Lexi said...

Isn't that the classic 'lived happily ever after' ending we all like? I like your summary of pigeons' key characteristic. Many people are like that, too.

I have a wood pigeon nesting again in my balcony bay tree. She doesn't budge when I go right up and talk to her. Perhaps she is one of last year's squabs.

postcardsfromk said...

Well, yes, the 'happy ever after' aspect is nice. Not much scope for personal growth or change though. Think I'll stick to slightly more complex human characters.

The pigeon fanciers had a lot of potential.

It sounds as though your wood pigeon has found her perfect roost. Long may she settle there.


Anonymous said...

A story about pigeons. Pigeonship Down? No, not interesting. Pigeon Run a la Wallace and Grommet perhaps.

But anywhere interesting characters and stakes are involved, there's story. Business on Wall Street isn't terribly exciting, but toss in stakes and people willing to win at all cost and there's a story to be told. Pigeon racers are no different.

If the pigeons are being killed, I doubt that a reader would care. But have one of the pigeon fanciers turn up murdered? Oh what fun a writer could have.

postcardsfromk said...

There's certainly plenty of gambling going on and the top pigeons change hands for unbelievable amounts of money. Plenty of potential for discord and drama.

Anonymous said...

The Avengers certainly could have made an episode from it.