Spitfires, Hurricanes and a Blenheim, a flight of angels over our lovely beach…

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October 4, 2015 by Whispering Smith

Whispering Smith Column published in the Littlehampton Gazette September 24th 2015

SITTING on the longest bench windblown and expectant my attention turned to the dunes along the West Beach. I judge roughly the height and direction from which they will come. Late,  damned weather. Then I hear it, muted a little by the westerly, that drone I remember from so long ago, Merlins and then they are there, Spitfires, in formation, I wish they were lower, I wish they would move more slowly so that I could watch them for longer, then more and a Hurricane and a Blenheim. What a sight to remember the day and what this was all about, an occasion to thank those who served, those who lived and those who gave their all for us. Have we proven worthy of such a sacrifice, I hope so but sometimes I do wonder…

A DISTANT memory that lingers yet: She had an orange hand line on a red plastic spool. The hooks were baited with bacon fat and last season’s mackerel. Her children, three of them, squealed every time she pulled in a brown crab for their boiling yellow bucket. Then, bang, she yanked up a two pound silver sea bass, spine alive and sharp. We gathered around as she smashed its head on the pavement and I watched the dark, deep-sea light fade from its black eyes. The fish was about eight years old, the same age as her eldest child. From the clear blue Atlantic to the green muddy Arun, dead on grey crab bait I hope she cooked it well. Empty handed, high tide fishermen looked to their expensive equipment, shrugged their shoulders and wandered off along the promenade…

WORK has started on the windfarm, a distant and unobtrusive view from Worthing’s promenade. Say what you will about wind energy their limited impact on our lovely county is preferable to the proposed extraction of fossil fuel via fracking. A local fisherman was quite enthusiastic about it, he pointed out that the huge area would be free of the pair trawlers and the damage they do to the sea bed and would provide a haven, and eventually a nursery for spawning fish which would be attracted by the marine growth, both plant and crustacean, that would gather upon the stanchions. A win for the fish and, in the long run, a win for the fishermen.

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