The location: the National Exhibition of Birds at Stafford on 8 October 2017.
The event: a brief meeting between Carlos Ramôa, president of COM, and myself.
The subject: those of you who have followed the saga of the Lizard show standard will be familiar with the controversy; but those who haven’t might care to read The Scales of the Lizard: Parts 1, 2 and 3.
The latest episode: I had heard that Carlos Ramôa would be visiting the National Exhibition. I had no idea if I would see him on the day, but even if I did, it was unlikely I would have time to cover all the issues. I therefore prepared to ask just one question: why had COM changed the official size of the Lizard canary without COM-UK’s agreement?
British readers will be quick to point out that the LCA standard awards no points for size. COM, or rather OMJ, does things differently. The size of the Lizard canary is enshrined in both the show standard (also known as the Technical Description) and the Fiche de Jugement (which translates as the Judging Score Sheet). For many years, the size was set at 12.5 cm, but after lobbying by COM-UK on behalf of the LCA, this was officially changed to 13.5 cm in 2014 (1).
That changed yet again when COM published the new Fiche de Jugement for the Lizard canary in Les Nouvelles in 2017 (2).
The Fiche de Jugement is a key document in the dispute between COM and COM-UK. COM has ignored the appeal from COM-UK because it maintains that there has been no change to the Lizard show standard; officially, only the Fiche de Jugement has been revised. This is a convenient ploy, because the veto of the country of origin applies only to the show standard. After a heated debate, the new score sheet was passed by majority vote at the OMJ meeting in Cervia 2016.
Most of the changes involved a reshuffling of the points awarded for the Lizard’s major features (3), but the five points for condition and size now refers to a length of ‘12.5/13.5 cm’ (4). This is highly significant because it is a change to the show standard and can only be approved with the agreement of the country of origin.
Simon Tammam of COM-UK voted against the proposal, and therefore the veto applies. The new Score Sheet is invalid.
I duly printed out the new score sheet and headed to Stafford in the hope that I might have the opportunity to ask Carlos Ramôa about this anomaly. That opportunity arose as I was chatting to Rob Innes at the Cage & Aviary Birds stand. Rob has been following the Lizard saga closely and spotted Mr. Ramôa passing by. He pointed him out to me, guessing that I might be interested. He was right.
Hello Mr. Ramôa! I caught up with him and introduced myself. He smiled, and waited while I produced my print-out of the new Fiche de Jugement for the Lizard canary. I pointed to the words Taille et Maintien (12,5 /13,5 cm) and asked him why the Lizard show standard had been changed without COM-UK’s approval. His response was dramatic: he turned on his heels, advised me to ‘speak to your expert’ (5) and walked away. The whole encounter lasted no more than 30 seconds.
I imagine that Mr. Ramôa is accustomed to strangers approaching him about bird keeping issues; it is an inevitable consequence of being President of COM. On many occasions he may not have a detailed knowledge of the subject, and therefore his advice would be appropriate. This was not one of those occasions.
Mr. Ramoa was present at the Cervia meeting, and it was his intervention that persuaded the delegates they could approve the new Fiche de Jugement for the Lizard canary by a majority vote. That decision has been the subject of an official appeal and several protests; he has been questioned about it by journalists and breeders, and on one occasion gave a lengthy response (6). He is not only familiar with the controversy, but has also played a leading part in it.
Given his personal knowledge of the affair, Carlos Ramôa could have taken the opportunity to explain COM’s position; to clarify any misunderstandings; to reassure me that COM is listening to its members. Instead, he beat a hasty retreat.
Goodbye Mr. Ramôa.
- Confirmed in Les Nouvelles 017 ( p.37) published on 21 April 2015. The description in the Score Sheet states Maintien et Taille (13,5 cm) which translates as ‘Condition and Size (13.5cm)’.
- Confirmed in Les Nouvelles Nr 022 (p.45), published in September 2017.
- These include the bizarre amalgamation of the lacings, wings and tail into a single item worth just 5 points. Worse still, there is no mention of the eyelash (previously 5 points) in the score sheet, even though it remains in the show standard.
- The new description says Taille et Maintien (12,5 /13,5 cm) which translates as ‘Size and Condition (12.5/ 13.5 cm)’.
- Presumably this refers to Simon Tammam, the COM-UK World Show Coordinator. I had already spoken to Simon many times, and knew that he had voted against the new Score Sheet at the Cervia meeting.
- He gave a written reply in response to questions from Rob Innes, editor of Cage and Aviary Birds. He was also asked about the Lizard standard by delegates at a meeting of Com-España 2017, but he fobbed them off. See The Scales of the Lizard, Part 3.