That old man river he just keeps rolling along…

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November 29, 2015 by Whispering Smith

Whispering Smith Column published in the Littlehampton Gazette November 19th 2015

YEARS in local government taught me many things one of which was that there are more ways than one to skin a cat – should you read this, my little Cleo, nothing personal intended. Whether or not you believe your council is run by the members you elected or by the unelected officers who advise them it matters not, the outcome is the same. Combined they  present a really unpopular idea, one that they know will never fly, one that the populace will rail against and one they actually have no real intention of implementing. They then  very quickly tone this  down to show that they are listening and then propose their original, one that is not quite so drastic, the one they wanted in the first place but thought it might meet too much of a storm if presented. This shows what caring, understanding benevolent folk they are. That’s how I suspect it will be with the threat of the massive increase in parking fees.  Create a firestorm then water it down to the original idea which, although equally unacceptable, is better than the one first mooted. Everyone thinks they have won and the wheel keeps on a’turning. No seaside district council would be stupid enough to so drastically price itself out of the tourist  market, as an old trader once told me, ‘better to sell ten for a tanner than one for two bob’

A wet autumn Sunday. No crabbers today. No youngster squeaking as they haul in a bunch of goggle-eyed crabs on yellow nylon line dressed with two week old bacon bait up onto our riverside walkway. No buckets filled with pop-eyed, scrabbling, brown backed captives. No fishermen hunting the river-bound deep sea bass or the soft mouthed mullet. No powerboats crewed by red-skinned sun seekers. No ice cream vendors, fish and chip eaters or rumblings of delight from a shuttered funfair. Only the rain, the gulls and the swans, uncaring eidolons of a grey wet November afternoon. I love that moving river in rain, wind or sunshine, always different, always something to see, rolling by and caring not for we, the autumn wrapped few, who watch with delight in its passing..

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