July 1, 2019 by Whispering Smith
Whispering Smith Column published in the Littlehampton Gazette June 27th 2019
The crowd gathered on Highdown Hill, it is the late evening of the Summer Solstice and as the last red lip of the sun dips below the distant horizon the standard of the Sompting Village Morris flutters lightly and waves a listless goodbye. It is the last second of the longest day and from that moment on the long lovely evenings will very slowly shrink away and lead us into autumn and so the cycle begins all over again. Strange to think that in the long, long ago our ancestors would have gathered on that same rise and witnessed the same passing and the same beginning. I could feel them. But then, risen again from that moment on by the dancers, the torchlights, the bonfire and the shanties of the Duck Pond Sailors. Children, dogs, dancers and bells at the closing of a fine good natured, magical evening. Chattering, singing as we walked back down the chalky hill, we watched the long line of lights from Worthing to Brighton backdropped by the red-topped turbines out in the Channel. We made our way to The Spotted Cow public house for some fine ale and a merry singsong ending the evening somewhere around midnight. There is so much to do, share and enjoy in our little area but sometimes you just have to go out and look for it.
Our new mayor, once a Liberal Democrat but, within weeks of being elected has left that party to become an independent making it a bit a struggle for either of the main parties to take full control of events. Whatever, a happily upbeat Cllr Tracey Baker has, asked surprisingly, as I would have thought what follows is and has been for a long time now, quite obvious – what can be constructively done to improve our town centre and seaside? Ma’am, I offer you four. Do something about the bomb site where once stood a thriving pub and has been a miserable blue boarded greeting to visitors now for eight years or more. Rid the precinct of the noisy drunks and beggars who plague passer’s by for money and hurl abuse when their request is denied. Encourage your colleagues in council to be more selective and encouraging in the choice of new businesses – no more vape shops, betting shops or hairdressers please! And perhaps the simplest of all, do something about the cyclists young and old who weave in at out of the High Street pedestrians often at high speed and on one wheel.
VERY happy to see that the Look and Sea café has reopened for the summer at last. A new layout inside and comfortable furniture throughout. Ideal for watching our lovely river flowing silently by. The coffee was passable, a range of cakes – a threat to the already under siege waistline – and a superb variety of ice cream. I miss the old staff though and the long dead cat that came in one door and was chased out of another by a waitress only to circle the building and dodge back in again through another door. This regular performance, much to the annoyance of the staff, was of great amusement of the patrons. Harbour Lights are shining again.