John Swan, The Lord Of The Rushie River

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October 14, 2013 by Whispering Smith

Whispering Smith published in the Littlehampton Gazette October 3rd. 2013

I AM NOT anti-fishing and I would hasten to tell local anglers that I have dabbled in the mysterious art myself on many occasion. I have even fly fished, upon invite, for salmon in the hallowed River Test. My host spilled a hot cup of fish soup all over the back seat of my new Volvo, but so happy was I to be there that I bore and still bear no grudge even though the stink lingered for months. I didn’t catch anything but had a whale of a time. Fishing is fun, but it is one of those pastimes that warrant a great deal of responsibility to other river users and swans are river users. All that is required of the angler is care and awareness on their part, the birds cannot see the filament lines and do run into them from time to time and especially so at dusk or at night. Swans are known to gather along Pier Road, a popular fishing spot, mostly because people feed them dry bread there, food they should not be eating. Swans are grazers, waterweed is their main diet and, if feeding them, try giving cabbage and lettuce, if you must give bread, break it into small pieces and moisten. Rose Carter, sometimes known as ‘The Swan Lady’, at the Harbour Lights/Look and Sea Centre, has become adept at catching injured birds and tells me that she has fewer incidents now of hooking due to the non-use of hooks on crabbing lines but birds are still injured in other ways. Injuries include being run over, decapitated and possibly eaten,  bumblefoot, set upon by out of control dogs and a couple turned up, apparently, drunk. Why do I bang on about swans? Easy, one of my favourite books and one my children loved is ‘The Lord of The Rushie River’, penned and illustrated by the flower fairy artist Cicely Mary Parker and published 1938. If you find a copy, read it to your children or to yourself and you will never look at these majestic birds in quite the same way again.

ONE STEP BEYOND the pale. The Arun District Councils decision to cut its grant to the Town Council is another slap in the face for the council tax payers of the town still smarting from the loss of their cinema, closed now for 240 days and counting. Arun must not expect voters to turn the other cheek come election time. 

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