Encouraging news for Littlehampton fisherman

A river gull hoping for some treats
A river gull hoping for some treats

Sixty or so years ago during my first assembly at Connaught Road Secondary Modern School the music teacher wandered down the lines of the new input as they sang All Things Bright and Beautiful – neither one of which was I – and as he wandered so he singled out several boys, including me, to stand at the back of the hall.

I thought to be chosen was a bit of an honour only to find out moments later that is was anything but. We were, he claimed, ‘growlers’ and I was the biggest growler of them all having a tin ear and being tone deaf besides and we would be milk monitors for the term.

As it happened it was not all doom and gloom as I had that very day acquired a copy of the newly published Penguin edition of Lady Chatterley’s Lover and we spent many a morning whiling away the groaning distant assembly by searching for, and very disappointingly not finding, the rude bits.

That dismissal of my vocal skills stayed with me throughout my life and I never opened my mouth in song if I knew anyone to be within gunshot.

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Also in the news – hundreds of families enjoyed a sunny Littlehampton sandcastle competition, work is continuing on a cable route for the Rampion wind farm, a new platform is offering affordable flights in private planes from Shoreham Airport, and Deliveroo has announced it is set to roll out its services in Worthing.

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Recently I was invited by a very good friend to the annual musical/poetry summer event at his house on the Beaumont and after long and extensive practices with the host concerned, I foolishly agreed to sing.

They are a musically talented family – he plays, among other instruments, a saxophone, his wife plays a mean fiddle and their youngest son is a guitar teacher and each contributed. Add to that trio a guest songster with her rendition of The Carnival is Over.

Then followed a truly uplifting performance from the professional classical harpist Alexander Rider - his giant harp made that house on the Beaumont truly sing.

Long story short, I gave voice to Old Man River and Danny Boy and was told by those talented folk that I had ‘absolutely nailed both’ and also that I had a splendid vibrato – whatever that is!

Moral? When you are an 11-year-old kid, don’t let the words of any ‘music master’, hang around your neck like a dead albatross for sixty-odd years. It was a night, such a night, it really was… Cue for another song? I don’t believe so.

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According to ex-fisherman Simon Finch of Riverside Fish who knows about such things, this warm weather is producing unusually high catches of channel crab and lobster, bad news for the crustaceans maybe but great news for the customer and encouraging news for the fishermen who have gone through some pretty lean times of late.

Even better news, whispers have it that the owner of our super promenade fish stall has put in a planning application to extend his premises, it is so good to see a local business doing well and the river gulls who loiter around the stall are also very happy about it, fish guts are a lot better for them than stale white bread!

• If you would like to get in touch with Whispering Smith, please email: whisperingsmith1@gmail.com

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