WHISPERING SMITH: Needled by nerves, but I’m crowing all the same

FINALLY, I have my crow tattoo. After making every excuse under the sun and bailing out three times, my daughter dragged me off to her friendly tattooist in Worthing, pronounced me sober and in good health and showed the young man the drawing I had nicked from the internet.

Anyone who tells you that tattooing does not hurt is telling a porky. It does, not half as much as going to the dentist, though.

Bob Done, the owner of The Lookout Tattoo, was very patient with me, informing me that I was the oldest customer he had ever worked on, the previous being a gentleman in his 60s who wanted ‘do not resuscitate’ tattooed on his chest. That information was not very reassuring but gave me long pause for thought, by which time the deed was done.

Reaction among my friends was varied and ranged from complete disinterest to, “Is the bird’s name Russell?” and on to “You are going to regret it when you are older” – irony there, as I may well have said that to my daughter when she had her first tattoo. My favourite was “It’s really badass, man!”

Being a chap who must have symmetry in all things, I am now considering one for the other arm…

LITTLE Bognor? Coates? Never heard of them, until last week, that is, when an old friend took me for a tour of the part of West Sussex where his family originated and where he spent his childhood. Wonderful countryside, even on a wet and dreary day.

We paused for a while to visit the carefully restored St Agatha’s Church in Coates. It has been there for a while. The delightfully atmospheric church and graves shelter ’neath the shade of a magnificent cedar tree.

My friend, wandering around the tombstones, offered the opinion that it was a lovely place to rest and he was so right, one felt that those beneath our feet were well and truly at peace.

There are so many delightful places to explore in an easy driving distance from our town. It just needs someone, sometimes, to show you the way.

ANOTHER great fun day in the town centre on Saturday. Congratulations to all involved in organising the event. We need more, not just at Christmas, but all-year-round.