WHISPERING SMITH: Going round in circles on the trail of a missing horse

MANY of you have seen and even commented on the sad horse tethered on the grass verge along the Yapton Road.

Well, one morning just before Christmas, a reader contacted me to say the animal was lying down on the frosty, windswept grass and asked me could I do anything about it?

I tried, I rang the RSPCA and could only get a recorded message – much like the one you get from BT, and we all know how that works out – a distant voice offering multiple choice dialling alternatives, one of which led me to another recording telling me I should contact the local highways department.

I rang West Sussex County Council and was told to contact the RSPCA. I explained my difficulty and they agreed to contact them for me. They rang back in a little while asking if I wanted to report a dead horse. I said, no, the animal did have rather a long face but was very much alive. OK, they said and then advised that the RSPCA had no authority to deal with roadside-tethered animals and so long as it was being fed and watered they could not interfere.

Credit to the West Sussex highways people, they did try, even though it seems they could do little about it, other than to refer it again to the RSPCA who, together with their miserable answering machine, get no credit whatsoever.

I mention this because the same reader telephoned me over the weekend to say the horse was no longer there and wondered if it was ok. I have no idea, have you?

IN pub, café, restaurant or almost anywhere that people gather, the ubiquitous cell phone is perched on the table, waiting for a call. On Hove station the other evening, out of 42 people waiting for the Littlehampton connection, 34 were engrossed in the little screen.

What did people do before the iPhone? Maybe they actually talked with one another…

DENTIST last week, first filling in seven years and that the result of a greedily chewed Quality Street toffee.

Boring procedure, lying in the chair, staring at the ceiling wondering why, instead of having restful pictures on the walls where you cannot see them, they do not have such pictures on the ceiling, where you could?