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A Chauffeur's View of
Bill "The Book" Richardson

by Flemming Christensen

In 2005, my friend Steen Haagh set up a 10 day grading visit here in Denmark for the well known grader Bill The Book Richardson. During this visit, Book and I spent many hours together, so many hours in fact that people jokingly started referring to me as his bodyguard and chauffeur.

It was during his first visit that many of us here in Denmark first realized how little we actually knew about our pigeons.   In fact, many of us found it odd to hand Book a pigeon that we had sometimes owned for years, and find that he always seemed to know more about that pigeon than we did.  From this trip, I was able to learn a great deal more than I had known before, and truthfully, it made me look at pigeons in a new way.

Certainly, learning more about pigeons through Book was somewhat challenged because my English isn’t as good as it could be.  However, Book always seems to understand me, and I am thankful for that because it allowed me to gain the most out of his trip.  However, even with what I had learned, I knew there was much much more and as a result, I spend many months considering the things that I had learned from him.

I don’t want to make it sound like I was the only fancier learning from the Book.  Even today, after his second trip, fanciers around Denmark are still shaking their heads.  In fact at a recent organization meeting, many fancier were coming up to me to ask about Book, and to say how much his visit had meant to them.  Book has certainly made an impact here in Denmark!

Fanciers in the United States might know of another friendship that Book made in Denmark.  At the very last minute during Book’s first grading visit in Ringsted, Denmark, he met a local fancier by the name of Rene Hansen. Yes, this is the same Rene Hansen that wrote the article to the American magazine immediately after the trip.  Rene has an advantage over me in that he English is excellent, and this has put him on a faster track in learning some of Book’s racing methods.  I can tell you that once Rene started figuring out the system, he turned in some amazing performances!

Book’s most recent visit, had convinced my good friend Keld Henriksen to move away from his old family that had not been perform as well of late to a new group of pigeons that were selected by Book.  Keld certainly knew that he needed to make this change, but I do not think it would ever have happened had Book not been here to give him the confidence to do so.

Even though my English is not as good as Rene’s, I am still learning a great deal from Book, and we have shared many emails.  No, they are not all about pigeons, but a lot of them are. My long time girlfriend, Gurli, says that I should print and bind these emails and call them my Bible.  Gurli says these things in fun because she knows how much I respect Book’s opinion.

Some have asked how I could spend so much time driving around grading pigeons with Book and not go crazy talking about pigeons all the time.  The truth is that Book is a very easy guy to talk to, and we talked about many other things other than pigeons.  I think this is part of the reason that Gurli also likes Book so well.  At dinners when the wives were around, he never talked about pigeons at all, and he was interested in what the wives had to say, which compared to most fancier’s was a big hit with the wives.

During his second visit, Rene and I accompanied Book on a three week trip around Denmark.  On this trip, Rene and I translated his seminar “General Breeding Practices”.  To be truthful, I was pretty nervous about this show because there were over 70 slides, and I was going to do most of the translating of his comments.  Because there were so many slides, we had to let the audience read the slides themselves.  This was a little odd at first, but Book would wait until they had finished, and then he would comment on each slide.  In the end, many thought it was the most informative show that they had ever been to.

All in all, Rene, Book, and I had a very good time together, and I can tell you that if you ever get the chance to attend one of his grading sessions or seminars, don’t pass up the chance!  I look forward to the day when I next get the opportunity to meet with Book in person!

Best to the sport,
Flemming Christensen

 

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